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Chicago Blackhawks: Hockey 101, 3-On-3 Overtime Rule

By Sean Fitzgerald
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Jun 15, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) celebrates with defenseman Johnny Oduya (27) after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in game six of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Blackhawks Hockey 101 will be a weekly article covering the rules of the NHL.

In the first week of Hockey 101, we will be covering the new overtime rules. The NHL heard the pleas of the people. Fans and other observers are tired of seeing so many games decided by a skills competition, aka the shootout.

The NHL took action this offseason, finally changing the overtime rules and switching from the 4-on-4 format to 3-on-3 play. The 3-on-3 overtime period will last for five minutes.

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  • The numbers from other leagues support the switch from the 4-on-4 to the 3-on-3. In the American Hockey League, 75 percent of games that went past regulation were decided in overtime.  The Swiss Elite league also has produced similar results with the 3-on-3 overtime format. The 3-on-3 is designed to create more space on the ice and create more goal scoring opportunities. In turn, the new overtime format should reduce the number of shootouts during the regular season.

    The NHL last season had 44.4 percent of its games that were tied after regulation decided in overtime. That means the majority of games tied after regulation went to a shootout.

    For all you AHL fans out there, the NHL will rule will differ from the AHL rule. The AHL rule is 7 minutes of overtime, and if either team does not score in 3 minutes, the players transition from 4-on-4 to 3-on-3. The NHL will be straight 3-on-3 for 5 minutes.

    With the overtime rule being changed, certain teams figure to benefit from the change, especially those who are not strong in the shootout. The Los Angeles Kings last season missed the playoffs by two points in the Western Conference. The main reason was their shootout win percentage, which was 20 percent for the season.

    The Kings went 2-8 in the shootout and recorded 95 points. If only they had won a few more games in overtime; their shootout percentage would not have mattered. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Calgary Flames, who just edged out the Kings for the last playoff spot in the West, were 4 -3 for a 57.1 winning percentage in the shootout. The Flames recorded 97 points last season and beat the Kings for the last spot by two points.  The new overtime rule should theoretically help the Kings and hurt the Flames.

    The rule change will create more excitement for the game and hopefully draw in more fans as well. Can you imagine the Blackhawks icing Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith versus any other three players in the NHL? The advantage clearly goes to the Blackhawks in the overtime period.  That sounds pretty exciting to me.

    NHL Stats

    Shootout Winning Percentages

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