An argument for longer overtime
My biggest problem with the shootout was always the fact that it was going to have far too much of an impact on the standings. As a way to eliminate ties, it certainly works, but an event formerly relegated to the all-star game now often determines who makes the playoffs and who doesn't.
And that's only going to get worse as goals become harder to come by in the NHL.
Case in point, this year's edition of the Edmonton Oilers, who if shootouts were still ties would be on pace for a 15-39-28 season.
They'd be the worst team in hockey.
In 2005-06, the shootout's inaugural year, the Oilers led the league with 16 games that went to a shootout, picked up seven more wins and finished in eighth spot in the Western Conference. Last season, the Devils led the league with 18 shootout appearances, and that produced an additional 10 wins (and a new record for Martin Brodeur).
This year, Edmonton has taken part in an incredible 19 per cent of shootouts taken, which means they're on pace for 24 appearances and around 20 bonus wins.
Shootouts are actually down overall this season. In 2005-06, there was one every 8.5 games. Last season, that jumped way up to one every 7.5. Now we're at one every 9.2.
Even so, there's an easy way to limit the shootout's impact even more: Extend overtime to 10 minutes.
The hockey I grew up on in the WHL always seemed to have the 10-minute overtime, and while that meant a little longer games once in a while, you rarely went home without a winner. And now that the NHL plays overtime at 4-on-4, the higher rate of scoring over regulation play would guarantee far fewer shootouts.
That certainly makes logical sense, but just to reinforce the notion, I asked stat guru Gabe Desjardins on Friday: "How many shootouts would there have been this season with a 10-minute overtime period?"
"Well, so far in 2007-08, there have been 27,243 seconds of overtime played, with 54 goals and 62 shootouts.
"The rate of goal scoring = 7.14 goals per 60 minutes.
"The goal-scoring rate is basically the same in each minute of OT, so if teams played 10 minutes without substantially changing their strategy, we would have had just eight shootouts this season!"
What's the worry here? The extra ice clean? Thirteen percent of games needed extra zamboni work last season already because of the shootout.
Overtime's generally the most exciting part of an NHL game; why not give the fans more of it, and spare us a large portion of the 150+ deke competitions?
UPDATE I've now got a look at how the standings this season would work out with shootout wins counting only as ties.
Labels: The shootout