Olympic Hockey Has It Almost Perfect, Shootouts Aren't the Answer

Tyler CurtisAnalyst IFebruary 19, 2010

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 18:  Sidney Crosby (L) of Canada scores the game-winning goal against Jonas Hiller of Switzerland during the ice hockey men's preliminary game between Switzerland and Canada on day 7 of the 2010 Winter Olympics at Canada Hockey Place on February 18, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The second shootout just ended seconds ago and boy was it exciting, but it is not the right way to end an Olympic hockey game. The shootouts happened today in games that involved Canada against Switzerland and Russia against Slovakia. My main problem is with the first shootout of the day.

I just want to say that I like the shootout in the NHL and actually love watching them. They make sense in the NHL as it creates more excitement and gets more casual viewers involved. I get that, and I respect that, because your goal is to bring in new viewers. Also, in the NHL every team has at least three good shooters it can send out in the shootout to try to grab a win. That isn’t always the case in the Olympics.

The Swiss played their hearts out and stayed in a game that they had no business being a part of. So after four good periods of hockey from the Swiss it all came down to a shootout. The way the shootout works is basically the same as the NHL. The problem arises after the third shooter takes his shot. After that they move to a one shot winner-takes-all format. That isn’t the problem though, the problem is the same shooter can shoot over and over.

The Swiss had an NHL-caliber goalie in net, Jonas Hiller, who can handle himself between the pipes. He stopped the first three shooters, one of them being Sidney Crosby, only to find that he has to stop Sid the Kid one more time.

I don’t care what caliber goalie you are, that’s hard to do. Sid buried the shot and Brodeur made a stop against Martin Pluss to end the game. If Sid didn’t make that shot all Lindy Ruff had to do was send him out again. Eventually he would of got one to end the game.

The Swiss didn’t really show anything in the shootout and it was obvious that they were overmatched. Now anyone who just watched Team Russia lose can say Alexander Ovechkin only went one for three. While that is true he had the puck skip over his stick once and lost the handle another time.

Russia and Slovakia had top NHL players on both sides but the Swiss were sorely over matched and didn’t stand a chance. I don’t want to take away from two great games but the IOC needs to find a way to level the playing field in Olympic hockey.