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Red Wings primed to reap benefits of new overtime format

In an attempt to win back fans after a lockout cancelled the entire 2004-05 season, the league decided to do away with games ending in ties, and went to shootouts to decide a winner in games tied after the initial five minutes of additional time. At first, the move injected a bit of excitement into games and it was received well by the fans. As the seasons went on, the shootout was met with a little more resistance from analysts and fans alike year after year.

Perhaps the most resistance came from fans of the Detroit Red Wings. For a team that boasted some of the best talent in the NHL, there was the inability to translate that talent into points. Coming into the 2015-16 season, the Red Wings have been arguably the worst team in the league in the shootout. Following their last appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2008-09, the Red Wings hold a record of 30-40 (.428 winning percentage). Last season, they were a dismal 4-10 in shootouts (.286 winning percentage).

With public support for shootouts dying, the league experimented with 3-on-3 overtime periods in the AHL last season. With significantly less games going to the shootout with that format, the NHL decided to change overtime rules to 3-on-3 starting in the 2015-16 season.

Does Gary Bettman hate the Detroit ... x
Does Gary Bettman hate the Detroit Red Wings?

The new format has been met with instant success for the Detroit. Following the Red Wings’ 5-4 come from behind overtime victory over the Nashville Predators last night, the Red Wings are 6-4 in the overtime period, and have only gone to the dreaded shootout once, with that also being a victory.

The Red Wings have a team built on speed that is primed for success with the wide open ice that 3-on-3 offers. The speed of players such as Darren Helm, Dylan Larkin, Gustav Nyquist, and Tomas Tatar combined with the skillful play-making abilities of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are sure to be a recipe for success. Last night’s victory is a prime example.

The new 3-on-3 format has received mostly positive feedback from both players and fans of the NHL. It offers end to end action in which one small mistake can, and most likely will, lead to an odd-man rush going the other way. The NHL was hoping that the new format would increase excitement, and lead to less games being decided in a “skills competition”. The NHL is getting exactly what it wanted.

Prior to the 2015-16 season, no season had more than 50% of games needing extra time being decided in overtime, with 2010 being the highest a 49.8%. This season to date has had 66.7% of games decided in overtime, a 22.3% increase over last season!

3-on-3 overtime looks like it is here to stay, and the Red Wings will be just fine with that as they continue to reap the benefits of more space to work with.

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