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Old 01-20-2020, 02:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kayT View Post
Also, bear in mind that they change the rules every off season so don't be surprised when you start watching in the spring and things are suddenly different. I've been a big fan for 25 years and the way overtime is done, for example, has changed several times.
Most of the changes are relatively minor, but yeah, the latest overtime change was a biggie. FTR, many regular-season games in the past ended in a tie, with each team being awarded one point in the standings. If the game was tied after three periods, it went into a five-minute sudden-death overtime with four skaters on the ice for each team instead of five, and if there was still no score, that was it, and the game was deemed a tie. Now, after overtime it proceeds to a shootout, where each team assigns three of their best players to each go individually one-on-one against the opposing goalie, with the home team having the first pick. Usually at least one player will manage to score, but if not, the process is repeated with a different player selection until someone scores, which doesn't usually take long. One caveat here is that although one team is declared the winner and earns two points, there are some limitations that I mention below.

Some fans really dislike the shootout overtime rule but I find it exciting. The objection to it is that it puts too much emphasis on the special skills of specific individual players and the teams' goalies rather than on the capabilities of the team as a whole. While there's some truth to that, most teams have a few great players that really make a huge difference, and some have been able get away with relatively crappy players and a great goalie who constantly saves their asses. That's just the way it is, whatever the rules may be.

Shootout goals don't count for an individual player's statistics or a goalie's save average, and they are assessed separately from wins in determining playoff standings, and carry lower weight in the event of a tie in the standings. So in some sense they are not a "real" win despite the winning team being awarded the points, but they make for really exciting hockey. Each shootout attempt is like a single-player breakaway where there is no one in the way and it's just the skater, stickhandling like mad, against a lone goalie. Nevertheless, points are points, and winning a lot of shootouts may get one team into the playoffs while another may be left out.

One of my pet peeves about hockey, though, is that so many teams make it into the playoffs that it doesn't have the same import that it does in baseball. There are currently 31 teams in the NHL (until recently it was 30) and more than half -- 16 -- get into the playoffs every year. Furthermore, unlike baseball, even the initial rounds are all best-of-7 series. I'm fine with it since I enjoy hockey, but I can see people who dislike the game considering the playoffs to be interminable. They literally go on until around mid-June. Someone seems to have forgotten that hockey is a traditional cold-weather winter game, historically played on frozen outdoor rinks. Try that in June and you're going to need a bathing suit, not ice skates. That's also true for any time of the year due to Gary Bettman's fixation on expansion in the US south, where there isn't enormous interest in hockey precisely because of its cold-weather roots, so a lot of kids don't get familiar with it.