The NHL is considering changes to the current overtime structure. Currently, overtime consists of five minutes of 3-on-3 in sudden death before a shootout if no goal is scored by either team. As so many games have remained tied, leading to shootouts, calls have been made for adjustments.
The general managers of the NHL teams discussed various ways of improving overtime in their latest meeting. They want to bring back the exciting gameplay that overtime used to have. Some of them believe that it has become too tactical, rather than a race for a goal.
As of right now, the 3-on-3 format of overtime, which was established in 2015, is not being changed. Smaller groups on the ice create a level of exhilaration from both players and fans.
Most of the problems lie in the lack of attacking opportunities. Too often, players will circle back into their zones with the pucks and kill time.
The NHL may consider making changes to its current overtime format
While this can work as a strategy for whatever team has the puck, it does nothing for the game itself. One-sided puck possession doesn’t create excitement, nor does it always benefit the teams.
The implementation of a shot clock was also discussed. Many professional sports such as football and basketball have utilized countdown clocks to prevent the very problem that the NHL is currently facing.
The MLB used a pitch clock for the first time earlier this year with some success. Although it could inspire some adverse reactions like the pitch clock did, establishing a shot clock could help increase shots during overtime.
The Seattle Kraken, Montreal Canadiens, and Toronto Maple Leafs have played the most overtime games so far this season with seven each. In the 2022-23 season, the Calgary Flames ended the season with 24 overtime games, though they only won seven.
By this time last year, the Flames played four games that went into overtime. It’s possible that 24 may not be the highest number of overtime games played this season by one team.
Whether or not any changes will be implemented next season is yet to be seen. If games continue to run into overtime or shootouts, the general managers may decide it’s time to update the game.
A shot clock or limited possession in a team’s own zone may become part of the NHL overtime experience to bring back the fervor that overtime used to create.