The NHL is going to screw with OT again, even though it’s already a joke

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Whenever any discussion of changes the NHL wants to make to its standings system or points system, it has to be remembered that the league has no interest in finding ways to separate the good teams from the bad. The league likes it that very few teams are ever actually under .500 (only 10 of the 32 have records that look under .500 now). It likes that any casual fan will see a team only three or four points out of a playoff spot or division lead and conclude that they must be close even though three or four points is incredibly hard to make up in the standings. They think it sells tickets and gets people to watch. GMs like it because it keeps them from looking quite as stupid as they probably are. They really have to go out of their way to not be “in it.”

What can make the NHL more exciting?

In that context is how possible changes to the already gimmicked overtime should be viewed. If the aim of the NHL is to see less games go to a shootout, then the best way would be to get rid of the shootout, as it’s by far the dumbest way to settle a hockey game. The NHL thought 3-on-3 would turn into a free-for-all, chaotic circus full of highlights, forgetting that NHL coaches will almost always find a way to take the heat out of things and lower the percentages to make games less random. They were never going to trade 2-on-1s back and forth if they could help it, which they have. Teams now can hold onto the puck for minutes at a time until they get the look they want, because there is simply too much ice to cover for the defensive team to get it back.

The GMs are discussing a shot clock or not allowing teams to voluntarily leave the zone with the puck, but there is no saving 3-on-3. It was a gimmick from jump street and deciding standings points, places and playoff spots on a gimmick has always been galactically stupid.

Yes, 3-on-3 can and has produced highlights that go viral. But it’s manufactured heat. If MLB put in a rule that after the ninth inning, pitchers were only allowed to throw fastballs, it is likely that Aaron Judge would hit one very far. And it’s cool to see Judge hit baseballs 480 feet. But what makes it more impressive is when he has to do it not knowing what pitch was coming and figuring out in the blink of an eye what is coming, not being given a leg up and had half the work taken out of his hands.

Soccer has passed NHL in popularity, so clearly the sporting audience has come to terms with ties. The NHL long ago needed to go to three points for a win, one for a tie and get on with their lives, but it lives on the fake parity that the loser point has provided it. The NHL didn’t realize that 3-on-3 culls the bottom and most of the middle of NHL rosters, which evens out teams. Most every team can throw out three really good players that can end a game, which isn’t the point of a game and league that loves to tout itself as the ultimate team game because everyone gets a shift.

But the league wants the standings artificially compressed, and will keep its everyone-gets-a-trophy system. It’ll just keep tweaking at the edges to make it even dumber, even when the answers are so clear. MLS figured out that its fans could deal with ties. The NHL doesn’t even think that much of its fans.

Sidney Crosby’s act never gets old

Anyway, to the good side of hockey. Sidney Crosby has probably scored this type of goal 200 times or whatever, and yet it’s still incredible every time he does:

The precision needed from that angle that he only gets a fraction of a second to calculate and execute, off of Erik Karlsson’s bullet pass, to get it top shelf, is stunning. No one else in the league scores this goal and Sid does it a handful of times per season.

Anyway, Crosby has 19 points in 11 games again, at age 36 and in his 18th season.

Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate and on Bluesky

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