The current overtime system has a five-minute period of four-on-four play. If neither team scores, then they go to a shootout.
While many like the excitement of the shootout, others do not like the outcome of a game being decided on such an event.
Under Holland’s plan, the overtime period would be ten minutes. The first half would be like the current four-on-four. The final five minutes would then be played three-on-three.
The hope is that this would open up the ice and allow for more breakaways and, more importantly, more games that finish under game play rather than the shootout.
Playing three-on-three is not the answer to NHL overtime. If the complaint against the shootout is that it is too gimmicky and not close enough to game action, then neither is three-on-three play.
The theory is that with fewer players on the ice, there will be more of a chance for breakaways and a higher likelihood that games will end without seeing the shootout.
While the shootout is exciting, it does put an insane amount of pressure on the goalie. Three-on-three would not help this, though. If more breakaways or odd man rushes do occur, then again an unfair amount of pressure falls on the goalie again.
Another complain about the current overtime system is that too often teams are playing not to lose.
While a three-on-three format would open up the ice, players are less likely to take chances as they do not want to get burned and give up that losing goal. While longer passes are more likely, teams will be less inclined to press up and take advantage of it.
While a three-on-three format will get more puck movement, there would be no significant increase in quality shots. It will be harder to keep the puck in the offensive zone, meaning much time would be wasted getting players back onside. Icing would likely go up as well. On the plus side, there should be less dump-and-runs and players will have room to carry the puck.
If the league wants to lower the number of games that end in a shootout, then increasing the overtime to ten minutes is a good choice but keep it at four-on-four.
In order to increase the level of intensity, take away the point that teams get just for making it to overtime. Make it an all-or-nothing proposition. If you lose in overtime you get zero points, winner gets the normal two. If after a ten-minute overtime period the game is still tied, then both teams get one point and the winner of the shootout gets two points.
This would solve all the issues. The extra time would allow teams more of a chance to get another goal. With no guaranteed point until after the overtime, it will also make teams play all out throughout the overtime. Hopefully as the general managers meet this week they will explore this tweak to Holland’s plan.
PJ Sapienza is a featured columnist for the Detroit Red Wings and a writer of many other sports. You can also follow him on Twitter.
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