x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Altering overtime to reduce odds of shoot-out

No more than once a season, this space will be used to facilitate a no-holds-barred attack on the NHL travesty known as "the shoot-out".

No more than once a season, this space will be used to facilitate a no-holds-barred attack on the NHL travesty known as "the shoot-out". And, as you may have surmised, the time for this season's shoot-out shoot-down is right here, right now.

This is the league's sixth season using the skater-versus-goalie skills competition to decide the outcome of a team game, and the backlash among anti-shoot-out crowd remains as strong as ever.

The argument is simple: it just is not right. It is a blight. It is a corruption of the game.

They don't break ties in basketball with a free-throw contest, and they don't go to a pass-catch-kick competition to decide the winner in American football. So why did the NHL sell out its own integrity and cheapen its product with a style-over-substance process for breaking ties?

The short answer is, the shoot-out is a way to determine games quickly rather than take a chance on an endless overtime. The reality is, the five-minute, four-on-four overtime period that precedes the shoot-out has resulted in a decision 40 per cent of the time.

The shoot-out, in all likelihood, is here to stay. The NHL would rather take an Alex Ovechkin slapshot to the noggin than admit a mistake.

However, the league has considered altering the overtime period in the hope of deciding more games before going to the shoot-out.

It is not the end of the shoot-out, but it might be the beginning of the end. And that's a start.