01 May 2007

The clamor to change playoff OT

As has been well-documented on many telecasts and blogs of late, overtime is fast-becoming the latest aspect of the NHL that MUST BE CHANGED. The cynical side of me thinks that merely the mention of alternate methods to determine a winner means that a change is sadly inevitable. And now even Lindy Ruff is on board for a change:

"I think the overtime should go to four-on-four. I think it creates more ice; it creates more chances," Ruff said yesterday. "(In overtime) teams get fatigued. The scoring chances go way down."

Ruff said the additional 37 minutes of hockey on Sunday produced five combined scoring chances from both teams.

"I looked around and it looked like people had left. I don't think people want to come here to see six periods of hockey and the last three periods (have) one or two scoring chances. I don't think that's what the game is about.

"Two or three periods of overtime, I don't think it's good for the game."

Are overtimes really that much more prevalent now or is it merely our perception? I tend to think the latter is true, and to me - even if the number of chances gets fewer and fewer - there is no comparison to playoff overtime. Are they really that onerous to the general public? Has there ever been a clamor in baseball to start lobbing pitches from behind a screen for a home run hitting contest after reaching 11 innings? Just as with any sport, if it isn't your team in it you might grow tired of the game but as for me I was fully engaged for the entirety of overtime in game 3 on Sunday.

As much as 4-on-4 even is distasteful to me (although I do wish regular season OT would extend to at least ten minutes of 4-on-4 before giving up and going to the shootout), if they ever implement the shootout for playoff hockey it would be a horrible decision.

Over at James Mirtle's site he posed the question"have there really been that many more lengthy overtime games these playoffs than in the past?" and I haven't been able to find the answer yet. Over at the trust-at-your-own-risk Wikipedia page they list the 20 longest games in history with #20 clocking in at 53:50 of OT played (just past the midway point of the 3rd OT). There are nine games on the list played since 1994. That just doesn't seem like a lot to me - the human mind tends to remember the exceptions rather than the norm.

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