NHL Week in Review (March 15-21)

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The NHL is always looking for ways to get better and be more exciting as they continue to grow.

When the league lost a season in 2004-05 they started their next year with plenty of changes that were meant to help grow the game. Essentially it was a number of rule changes that would speed the game up and increase offence.

It was a strategy that was essentially supposed to help grow the game in popularity, specifically in the USA.

The most controversial of these changes was the introduction of the shootout. It was the solution to games going far over time with endless overtime periods.

It was not a major problem but every now and then two teams had to go through four or five overtime periods to get two points.

The NHL looked to eliminate this by including the shootout after one overtime period. It caused plenty of stir in the NHL as many players and traditionalists didn’t like the idea of two points going up for grabs on a shootout.

It was such a chance practice as anything could happen in a shootout that could mean the difference between a team making the playoffs or missing them by two points.

For many it was just too unpredictable to allow in the NHL but still it happened and since then the outcry has yet to die down.

There are still fervent opponents to the shootout but since it has already been established and does not seem to be going anywhere soon the focus has switched to strategies to end games before the shootout.

The most popular of the theories is one that has gained a lot more traction since the shootout was established. That has been the addition of the 3-on-3 overtime period before the shootout.

hockey-sidebarAdding this overtime period is essentially making it easier for teams to end a game before the shootout becomes necessary. With a 3-on-3 game everything opens up and the most talented players are given the freedom and extra space they need to make a play.

Moving that to the overtime should increase the chances of a good player making a good play to earn the goal.

If it works the way that many hope, it will end games earlier and avoid more shootouts.

More than that though it will provide some thrilling action between the best of two teams in a sudden death situation.

It didn’t take too long for this idea to spring up as it seemed like the establishment of the shootout brought about this idea immediately. Since then the NHL has been considering the change but is not taking it too quickly.

Like many rule changes it first went through a testing phase and for this rule that testing phase existed in the lower levels.

The AHL began to test a new style of overtime this year when they established a seven minute overtime that involved a 4-on-4 and a 3-on-3. For the first three minutes of the overtime teams compete in 4-on-4 and after three minutes the first whistle marks the beginning of 3-on-3.

This hybrid style has worked well for the AHL as it has brought more excitement to the overtime. It has been seen as a legitimate option for the NHL along with the 3-on-3 overtime that is simply a five-minute period of 3-on-3.

The simpler option is the 3-on-3 and the NHL is likely to adopt that option in the near future. If the NHL is to make a switch they will likely choose the simplest option that requires less adjustment.

Moving to a 3-on-3 overtime is the choice they will likely make and the talk this week has been that the change will happen for the next season. It is another example of the NHL continuing to adjust and trying to find ways to make the game more exciting and faster.

More changes will always be coming to the league as it continues to grow and the potential addition of a new overtime will continue the pattern.

(Extra Thoughts on this week in hockey)

Hambuglar Rising
Every season there tends to be a new folk hero that rises out of nowhere and this year it is no different as Andrew Hammond has risen through the ranks and become the hero for all Senators fans even earning the moniker the Hamburglar

Another Losing Season
The Arizona Coyotes are out of the playoffs again this year but it is not the only issue as the Coyotes announced the loss of $34.851 million which is becoming a common theme in the desert leading may to continue the talk of moving the team

Another Accomplishment for Eichel
Jake Eichel is preparing for the end of his NCAA season and the beginning of an NHL career but before it’s all over he is likely to be going through the ringer in the NCAA as he has been named as a finalist for the Hobey Baker Awards as College’s best hockey player


Key Scores:
Detroit Red Wings 5 – 1 Pittsburgh Penguins
– The Red Wings and the Penguins came into the game sitting at the bottom of the top three in their divisions and were trying to hold onto that spot and the Red Wings took the win getting that much closer to another playoff berth

Chicago Blackhawks 1 – 0 New York Rangers
– The Rangers continue to hold on to a top spot in their division while the Blackhawks are in the midst of a difficult battle in their own division as every game counts and this win helps them get closer to a return to the playoffs

Ottawa Senators 6 – 4 Boston Bruins
– The Sens are leaning on the performance of Andrew Hammond to help them enter the playoffs and the man known as the Hamburglar is helping them out including this win against the team sitting just above them in the wild card spot

Winnipeg Jets 3 – 0 Washington Capitals
– The Jets and Capitals have a tradition of fighting for the playoffs before the Jets were moved West but they remain in the similar situations this season as both are holding on to wild card spots with the Jets taking the win and helping their chances

Next Week:
Los Angeles Kings vs. New Jersey Devils (Monday March 23rd; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Kings are finally finding their way back to the playoff hunt and now are sitting outside the playoffs with hopes that they can work their way into the wild card as they take on the Devils trying to get that much closer to the playoffs

Dallas Stars vs. Calgary Flames (Wednesday March 25th; 10:00 pm ET)
– The Stars still have a shot at the playoffs but it is falling away fast as they are limited to spoilers and will try to spoil the Flames and their attempt to make the playoffs as Calgary sits just inside the division spots

New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators (Thursday March 26th; 7:30 pm ET)
– The Rangers are sitting in a great spot and trying to work towards clinching a spot in the playoffs while the Sens are trying to get into the playoffs and a win against the Rangers could go a long way to earning a spot

Nashville Predators vs. Washington Capitals (Saturday March 28th; 12:30 pm ET)
– The Predators looked like a team that was going to bulldoze their way to the playoffs and potentially the Stanley Cup but they have fallen back as of late and are now trying to simply find their way to clinching a playoff spot

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