Few American hockey fans are likely to forget T.J. Oshie’s shootout heroics in Sochi, while few Wild fans have any interest in watching Patrick Kane stickhandle his way past their favorite goaltender again.
But regardless of the love (or lack thereof) that NHL fans have for the shootout, the practice appears to be on the way out following the league’s move towards 3-oh-3 overtime play.
Originally approved by the league’s board of governors back in June, the NHL pushed for new overtime rules after experimenting with the switch in the American Hockey League, where dropping two skaters in the extra session nearly doubled the number of games that ended in overtime, rather than a shootout.
The logic flows nicely: Fewer players means more ice with which to work, a formula that rewards speed and stickhandling, rather than size and strength, and leads to more goals.
And based on this season’s lack of shootouts, the concept appears to hold true in the NHL.
Less than 15 percent of NHL games have required shootout this season out of 407 games played, a mark that lags significantly behind shootout totals in each of the last six seasons.
Even accounting for the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign, in which the league played just 720 games, the numbers were holding steady, right up until 3-on-3 came along.
Number of Shootouts
Total Games Played
However, the Minnesota Wild are still adjusting to the new status quo, having now won just one game in overtime this season after dropping their fifth extra-session loss on Monday to division rival Colorado.
Minnesota has taken just 12 shots on goal through six overtime games, despite the presence of speedy forwards Zach Parise, Mikael Grandlund and Jason Zucker.
The idea is catching on despite the Wild’s struggles.
The NHL has taken note of 3-on-3’s popularity, overhauling this year’s all-star game and replacing it with a 3-on-3 tournament that will replace the two conference teams with four divisional teams that pit teams of three skaters from the Central, Pacific, Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions against each other.