New 3-on-3 NHL Rule Puts Coaches in Conundrum but Adds Twice the Excitement Next Season

Ross Benjamin

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 2:35 PM UTC

Tuesday, Jul. 21, 2015 2:35 PM UTC

Our resident NHL handicapping professional shares his thoughts on the new three-on-three overtime rule that was recently approved. Join us in reading this extremely informative article that touches upon various aspects on this change, and reasons why the new format was adopted.

NHL Approves New Overtime Format
The NHL board of governors approved a new proposal at their recent June 24th annual meeting regarding overtime games for its upcoming 2015-2016 season. The past format called for teams to play a five minute overtime period of 4-on-4 hockey. If the teams remained deadlocked at the conclusion of overtime, the game would be decided in a shootout session. The latter part of that format stays intact. However, the teams will now be required to play 3-on-3 in the five minute sudden death overtime stanza. Could this new change also affect our NHL picks? We don't think so, but the games will certainly become more exciting.


AHL Statistics Substantiate the Change
There are a lot of hockey purists that cringe at games being decided in an overtime shootout session. Although the shootout is an exciting and entertaining novelty, games were being decided way too often in that manner. Last season alone saw 170 of 306 games (55.6%) that went overtime be decided in a shootout.

The AHL acted as a test dummy last season for lack of a better phrase. For the first time in league history they adopted a three on three overtime five minute sudden death format. The results of that experiment were telling to say the least. Last season under the new three on three rule 75% of those games were decided by a sudden death goal during the five minute overtime period. Putting that number into perspective, just 35.3% of AHL games that went to overtime were decided during four on four overtime hockey in the 2013-2014 season. That was certainly compelling enough for the NHL Board of Governors to adopt the change for this upcoming season.

Must Read: We breakdown the 2015-16 Stanley Cup odds here

New Strategy and Excitement
Obviously by going to three on three, it will produce more wide open and end to end action as a result of plenty of space available for players to show off their skills. The interesting aspect of this new concept will come in the way of strategy. Head coaches will now be in the conundrum of deciding between using two defensemen and a forward, or two forwards plus one on defense. Heck, you may even see three defensemen or three forwards on the ice at the same time for an individual team. Whatever the coaching strategy ends up being, one thing we can be rest assured, it will add additional excitement to the outcome of games, and in all likelihood will produce a plethora of specialized players to participate in that role.  

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