Monday, April 30, 2007

Too much OT?

There was a multiple-overtime game each of the last three days: Vancouver over Anaheim (Friday), New Jersey over Ottawa (Saturday) and Rangers over Buffalo (Sunday). It was the first time in NHL history that a multiple-overtime game was played on each of three consecutive days in one playoff year.
— Elias Sports Bureau
I've heard some talk the past few days that perhaps the NHL has to look at addressing the number of long overtimes that have been played, a decision that would likely be based on a need to woo U.S. television interests.

Now, I haven't done the number crunching, but have there really been that many more lengthy overtime games these playoffs than in the past? And what sort of measures could the league take to correct the problem, if it exists?

31 Comments:

At 3:16 PM, April 30, 2007, Blogger Nick said...

a decision that would likely be based on a need to woo U.S. television interests.

As an American, I can assure you that watching teams like the Canucks play defensive hockey is the boringest.

Is it exciting for Canadians to watch this stuff?

Dump, chase, fail, collapse back to defense
Dump, chase, fail, collapse back to defense
Dump, chase, fail, collapse back to defense
Dump, chase, fail, collapse back to defense
Dump, chase, fail, collapse back to defense

I wish I had a solution for encouraging teams to play more exciting styles of hockey.

The only thing I could possibly suggest trying would be doing away with things like the instigator rule in the hopes that enforcers are allowed to enforce and finesse players are allowed to go out there and do their thing without fear of getting leveled.

Now, I'm not claiming that this is going to fix everything, I'm just suggesting that it's something to try. I know that guys like J. Michael Neal are going to jump in and start going on about college or olympic hockey or something else that I don't care about.

If you have a bunch of teams playing the lowest common denominator defensive hockey and it's boring.

...Or hey, maybe get rid of some of these expansion teams so the overall level of talent is higher

 
At 3:21 PM, April 30, 2007, Blogger John said...

Maybe I'm just weird, but I consider multiple OT's a feature, not a bug.

But if you want shorter OT's -- start by getting better ice. The Garden ice was horrible -- there wasn't a pass longer than 10 feet that didn't bounce all over the place.

Better ice also allows skaters to skate and allows skill to shine.

Here's an idea to keep Northlands/Rexall from the wrecking ball -- All playoff games in Edmonton!!

 
At 3:37 PM, April 30, 2007, Anonymous Matt Gunn said...

^^ I agree... I love multi-overtime games. I would hope they wouldn't get rid of, what I consider to be, a very exciting situation.

 
At 3:49 PM, April 30, 2007, Anonymous Jeff said...

Addressing Nick's comments: you might find Vancouver's style boring, but if they were your team, you'd be on the edge of your seat with the game on the line.

I'm a diehard hockey fan, but I was bored by the Rangers/Sabres OT. If your team isn't in it, hockey on TV is tough no matter what.

Reducing the number of teams would actually be a good idea though. Won't ever happen, but a good idea.

 
At 4:01 PM, April 30, 2007, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

Reducing the number of teams would actually be a good idea though.

I don't see the connection between OT format and number of teams. There has been plenty of talent in these multi-OT games, but the system that is being played is more why things are getting settled slowly.

Probably gameplay needs to be re-visited: I hate to be over-simplistic, but if there were a game where goalies were more often "hung out to dry", it would probably make for better hockey and shorter overtimes. How we get to such a system? Dunno, taking suggestions.

 
At 4:31 PM, April 30, 2007, Blogger mike w said...

It is a coincidence.

There is nothing wrong with the playoff format.

 
At 4:33 PM, April 30, 2007, Anonymous Daniel said...

The true hockey fans know what is going on in a hockey game. They can tell when the ice seems 'tilted', if its getting chippy, all that stuff. You can't flirt with tinkering something so much that it isn't the same game. Grassroots education on the game will spark interest in the game, not tweaking overtime.

Maybe something to make teams open up a little bit is to do away with sudden death and let them play 20 minutes. I think that is ridiculous though, because it takes away from the pressure to make the perfect plays and excitement from a fans point of view.

If you don't like overtime, don't watch hockey. Those guys are killing each other out on the ice and are dead tired, what is more exciting then that?

 
At 4:35 PM, April 30, 2007, Blogger FAUXRUMORS said...

1) As we wrote a couple of weeks ago on ur blog, we feared that when the NHL instituted the bogus stunt called a shoot out in the regular seson it would be just a matter of time before it was in the playoffs too.
http://newfaux.blogspot.com/2007/04/ot-nonsense.html#links
2) You can be certain that the ground work is being set for it to be used sooner than folks like us who hate shootouts will want to believe!

 
At 4:56 PM, April 30, 2007, Anonymous Matt Gunn said...

The only thing I can see them doing that I would be able to take, would be to make overtime's in the playoffs be a 4-on-4 situation. Just play 4-on-4 until someone scores (no shootout).

I can't imagine many games taking longer than a period to decide.

 
At 5:00 PM, April 30, 2007, Blogger Nick said...

Addressing Nick's comments: you might find Vancouver's style boring, but if they were your team, you'd be on the edge of your seat with the game on the line.

You're right. I'd watch the Wings all night if they played to 20 overtime periods, in fact, I'm not saying that overtimes are necessarily boring, I'm saying more that overly defensive hockey is boring.

Other thoughts...

Shootouts suck, but maybe I just feel that way because every other game seems to end that way.

Here's another idea. reduce the size of goalie pads.

 
At 5:03 PM, April 30, 2007, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

Now, I'm not claiming that this is going to fix everything, I'm just suggesting that it's something to try. I know that guys like J. Michael Neal are going to jump in and start going on about college or olympic hockey or something else that I don't care about.

Actually, all I'm going to do is ask you to provide some evidence that allowing fighting would have the effect that you are claiming it would. Since it's so obvious, surely that evidence shouldn't be hard to provide.

 
At 5:10 PM, April 30, 2007, Blogger Nick said...

Now, I'm not claiming that this is going to fix everything, I'm just suggesting that it's something to try.

 
At 5:16 PM, April 30, 2007, Blogger Nick said...

http://www.flyernews.com/article.php?section=Sports&volume=54&issue=39&artnum=03

 
At 5:32 PM, April 30, 2007, Blogger Art Vandelay said...

Here's what I don't get: 4x4 OT in the regular season was, for 10 years, the only watchable part of a game. Instead of making the entire game 4x4, the New York lawyers appended the soccerific shootout. Now that the suits are figuring out that 11-hour games are only interesting to the same people who collect the entire catalogue of Polydor records or first editions of Stephen King novels, I'd bet we get playoff shootouts by Stanley 09. A stupid "fix" when a better one has been at hand for more than a decade. That's why NHL hockey is in the toilet.

 
At 5:35 PM, April 30, 2007, Blogger Kel said...

The NHL should expect long OT games when they made changes to increase parity. A vastly superior team is going to beat their opponent no matter what style they play. Put two pretty even teams together and you expect to see the games tied a lot of times. Plus the OT format definitely does not encourage risky play.

Ironically, they could reduce OT games by accepting ties in the playoffs, and make it 7 games at most (with OT possible only in game 7) Best-of-7 can mean most wins in 7 games, right?

 
At 5:36 PM, April 30, 2007, Blogger Black Dog said...

here's a thought - considering every move the NHL has made in the past 30 years has been geared towards getting a better TV contract in the US and the end result has been ratings that have fallen and a game that has fallen off the radar in the States - I was playing hockey Saturday with Tyler Dellow and he has the solution.

We'll move the game to grass, play 11 aside ... hmmm, what else.

I mean seriously, what's next? This is getting beyond tiresome. Why even bother playing the game at all? Its so boring and terrible - why not just have a skills competion.

Jesus.

 
At 5:38 PM, April 30, 2007, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

Now, I'm not claiming that this is going to fix everything, I'm just suggesting that it's something to try.

Yeah, I got that you said it wouldn't fix everything. You did imply that it would be a partial fix. I take it, then, that you don't have any evidence that it would make any change at all?

 
At 5:58 PM, April 30, 2007, Blogger Nick said...

I don't see the point in rehashing this again.

Wayne Gretzky, on several occasions, has attributed his success to the enforcers with whom he played with.

I know that you don't think fighting is exciting. If you don't accept even the remote possibility that enforcers allow finesse players to play more aggressively, then I know you'll disagree with me. That's fine.

Again, I'm not saying that it will fix everything, I'm just saying that it's a possibility.

 
At 6:09 PM, April 30, 2007, Anonymous Jeff said...

Earl: Not saying less teams = less OT. But it would increase skill and theoretically make OT and the rest of the game more exciting.

Why is it hard to score, in OT or otherwise? Or rather, why is it harder than it used to be?

I think it's obvious: the nets are the same size, but the goalies are at least twice as big.

As someone suggested, either decrease pad size or increase net size.

I'd hate the latter. As for the former, I'm sick of the whining about player safety. If they can make lightweight bulletproof vests, they can make small, light equipment that will protect the goalies without protecting the net.

 
At 6:19 PM, April 30, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

I actually wouldn't mind them bumping up the size of the nets a little.

The fact is, the goalies are getting bigger, their equipment is bigger, and their positioning is better.

 
At 6:29 PM, April 30, 2007, Anonymous Baroque said...

Every statistical bone in my body is screaming at even looking at such a small data set, but here are a couple numbers from the last three seasons. These are from the first round only (as it is the only round that has been completed).

In 2004, there were 47 total games, of which 9 went to overtime (5 single, 3 double, and 1 triple OT). This was 19% of the total games played.

In 2006, there were 44 games played, of which 11 went to overtime (7 single and 4 double OT). This was 25% of the total first-round games last year.

In 2007, there were 43 total first-round games played, of which only 6 went to overtime (14%). Three were single OT, 2 double, and one quadruple OT.

By the end of the playoffs in 2004, 19 of 89 games (21%) went to overtime. In 2006, 20 of 83 games (24%) went to at least one overtime.

It doesn't look, from this pathetically dinky data set, that there is a large increase in overtime games. I think it's probably perception more than anything else. One of the first games of the playoffs went four overtimes, and some folks started to panic about all the overtime games. I figured at the time that might be the longest game of the entire playoffs; since it occurred so early, it skewed perceptions for the rest of the playoffs.

And I don't think they should change anything about the format. The vast majority of hockey fans-and other sports fans, too-love the drama of playoff overtime hockey. (There was an article on nytimes.com today about exactly that.) Please don't mess up one of the best things about the sport.

(Sorry I couldn't go further back-this is extracted from some cryptic notes I had, not a big database somewhere. I leave that for a bigger math geek than myself.)

 
At 6:40 PM, April 30, 2007, Anonymous Baroque said...

This is from Dave Anderson of the New York Times:

"No other event can match it. Not the Super Bowl, which has never had an overtime game. Not the World Series, where there is no time element. Not the N.B.A. playoffs, which has complete overtime periods. Not soccer’s World Cup, which can dissolve into a penalty-kick shootout.

But when the score of an N.H.L. playoff game is tied at the end of the regulation 60 minutes, the teams keep playing until somebody scores. It’s always theater and it’s often history."



http://select.nytimes.com/2007/04/30/sports/hockey/30anderson.html?ref=sports

 
At 6:50 PM, April 30, 2007, Anonymous David Johnson said...

The NHL has been doing everything in their power to attempt to woo more fans in the U.S. from expansion to rule changes to implementing the shootout during the regular season to games in the afternoon to glowing pucks on TV broadcasts but it hasn't worked to any great extent. Does anyone really think that getting rid of lengthy overtime games is going to the the catalyst that will finally attract those American fans? I don't think so.

The NHL needs to stop messing around with the game and let the game find its niche among the American audience. If people in Nashville don't want to watch a highly skilled, and entertaining hockey team, then so be it. Move the team to Winnipeg where people will. Let's just not fool ourselves into thinking just a few more tweaks of the rules is suddenly going to change how people in Nashville or Miami or Phoenix view the sport.

 
At 6:54 PM, April 30, 2007, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

Earl: Not saying less teams = less OT. But it would increase skill and theoretically make OT and the rest of the game more exciting.

I suppose, but I still think these are two different issues. We could have more exciting overtimes with the personnel that exist, and I'm not sure putting another skilled player on each team would change the existing overtime strategy.

It doesn't look, from this pathetically dinky data set, that there is a large increase in overtime games. I think it's probably perception more than anything else.

This is probably true. And it probably has to do with the fact that two of the longer overtimes took place in west-coast cities (Vancouver and Anaheim). Nothing makes those east-coasters grumble like a few late nights, eh?

 
At 7:55 PM, April 30, 2007, Blogger Kel said...

I actually wouldn't mind them bumping up the size of the nets a little.

The fact is, the goalies are getting bigger, their equipment is bigger, and their positioning is better.


I mentioned that numerous times and every time I don't get any response.

Why change the net when the simple thing to do is to increase the weight of goalie equipment. Weight is as big of a factor as size in sports gear. Impose a minimum weight on goalie equipment and you don't need to increase the size of the net. I'd rather they reduce the size or weight of the puck before they change the size of the net.

 
At 8:58 PM, April 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was talking to Mr. Ed and Francis the talking mule. They were both Uber-pissed to miss the tribute to Barbaro so some foreigner with a name no one could pronounce could help the Harlem globetrotters beat the Buffalo Buffalos

 
At 11:44 PM, April 30, 2007, Anonymous David Johnson said...

I actually wouldn't mind them bumping up the size of the nets a little.

One of the problems often quoted with doing this is retrofitting all the arenas to handle wider nets. That is why they came up with that rediculous rounded 'bubble' nets. A simple solution, and I think potentially effective one, would be to just increase the height of the goals. So many goalies now can drop to their knees effectively closing off all of the bottom of the goal but are still tall enough to cover most of the top of the net too. So, increase the height of the goal 6-8" forcing goalies to either stand up more exposing the lower part of the, or keep dropping to their knees exposing the upper parts of the net.

Another thing I would like to see the NHL do is force goalies to have their goalie pads tied tightly to their legs. Many goalies now have them loosly tied so they lie flatter on the ice when they drop to their knees. In my opinion goalie pads should primarily be there for protection, not as a tool stopping the puck.

 
At 5:44 AM, May 01, 2007, Blogger Doogie said...

Just for shit and giggles, 2003:

Games: 89
1OT: 13
2OT: 4
3OT or more: 4
Total OT: 21 (23.6%)

Lots more long OT games, including that Dallas-Anaheim 5OT marathon, but overall, no different from the other years, so far. I agree, it's perception, owing to the early 4OT game. Nothing else has surpassed 2OT yet this year, and I doubt it will. Last year's longest game only went to 3OT, and it was the only one of its kind that year.

 
At 9:46 AM, May 01, 2007, Anonymous Craig said...

As for 4-on-4... I do kind of like the idea, but it'd probably mean a decrease in roster size by 4 players/team, or 120 jobs.

Of course, with a roster size of 20, that'd allow for the same total number of jobs while expanding by 6 teams...

 
At 11:10 AM, May 01, 2007, Anonymous ebscer said...

Here is an idea that actually won't piss anybody off. Continue to run tv time outs through OT. The players get extra rest and are more likly to be able to make a play, while the actual rules of the game don't change at all

 
At 12:29 PM, May 01, 2007, Anonymous Bob Smith said...

How to correct long overtimes?

Goal scored in first period of OT -Goal scorer gets to punch Gary Bettman in the face

Goal scored in second period of OT- Goal scorer gets to kick Bettman in the ass.

Problem solved.

Come to think of it, that probably is a good solution to almost all of the NHL's problems. And even if it didn't, couldn't hurt eh?

 

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