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Buffalo Sabres; NHL Could Learn from World Cup Overtime Rules

July 22nd, 2014 at 9:58 PM
By Mike Matisz

During the World Cup over the past month, the NHL was considering a new overtime method to create more winners without going to a shootout. 

The ideas that were floated around include a 10-minute period with teams changing sides half-way through. Other ideas include reducing the number of players on the ice as the overtime continues on, creating more chances. 

One thing that could be learned through the World Cup could be the method in which points are earned as well as their overtime in knockout rounds. 

The current method of determining a winner in the NHL is an overtime period of four-on-four that ends with a golden goal or ends with a shootout to determine the winner. If the winner is determined in overtime, then the win will be count towards the tie-breaking method, whereas the winner of a shootout does not get a credit towards the tie-breaker. 

In the World Cup, as is with most soccer leagues, the winner gets three points. A tie ends in each team getting a point. If the NHL doesn't want to include ties, then the incentive for winning in overtime should be the full three points, with none to the loser. 

The overtime periods in soccer are two fifteen-minute periods with unlimited scoring followed by a penalty shootout.

The NHL could adopt a method in which teams have two five or ten-minute periods with unlimited scoring. In that case, if a team scored in one of the periods, the team who is down would have the chance to tie it back up.

For example, if the Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators were tied 3-3 at the end of regulation, the teams would play a ten-minute period. If the Senators scored, the teams would still play the second ten-minute period. If the Sabres tied it up, the game would go to a shootout. However, if the Sabres scored two goals, they would win 5-4.

If the overtime went to a shootout, the teams would split the points 2/1 instead of gaining all three points. 

The overtime strategy above would give teams the incentive to win games in regulation or overtime. Plus, teams making a playoff push would take more chances in the extra periods to ensure they didn't lose a point or two by going to a shootout. 

The chances created by having no golden goal would also boost the popularity of the sport. A team that falls behind is more likely to put on the pressure to re-tie the game. Then, if the team that was down then has the momentum, they could try to pressure the other team to give up another goal to steal all three points. 

This new overtime strategy would also mean that teams may not want to enter an additional twenty minutes of play, meaning that the scramble of chances at the end of regulation would increase. 

While the NHL may never adopt this strategy of overtime, the changes that the league is looking to make should prove to be more exciting. There is no timetable on when the overtime rules will change, but the competition committee will continue to look into the possible changes. 

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