Friday, November 22, 2013

Three-on-Three Hockey Gets a Shot in L.A.

Moments before Jaromir Jagr scored this milestone game winner in overtime against the L.A. Kings, the Devils and Kings played two minutes of three-on-three hockey on Thursday, with both teams taking advantage of the wide open ice to generate some golden opportunities.

NHL GM's who have now put 3-on-3 overtime on the table as per their meetings a few weeks ago in Toronto, will likely be looking at this two-minute sampler to try and get a feel for whether or not the hockey is legitimate enough to be put on display. Here's what Devils' beat writer Tom Gulitti wrote about the experience last night:

The simultaneous minors to Jagr and Brown resulted in the teams skating 3-on-3 for two minutes in overtime. The NHL general managers discussed at their meeting last week in Toronto possibly adding some 3-on-3 time at the end of OT after the five minutes of 4-on-4 as a potential way of cutting down on the number of shootouts.

The end-to-end action and five total shots on goal – three for the Kings and two for the Devils (plus an Eric Gelinas’ redirection that went wide) – during the 3-on-3 might generate more supporters for the idea.

“It was different for sure,” Devils goaltender Cory Schneider said. “I think guys were kind of looking at each other off the draw and saying, ‘What do we do now?’ As a goalie, it’s probably not going to help our goals-against or our win-loss total because there’s probably going to be plenty of chances, but I’m sure all the GMs are going to watch that tape and see how exciting it was and how the crowd was into it and try to push it forward. So, we’ll see.”

There seems to be mixed feelings about whether or not a three-on-three element (if the four-on-four overtime does not decide the outcome of an overtime game) would be the right approach. One thing is for certain: Too many shootouts deciding NHL games is not being interpreted as a good thing right now. There have already been 52 shootouts in 335 games this season, meaning more than 15 percent of games are being decided by them.

Red Wings GM Ken Holland has come out strongly in favor of it, as have others, such as Bruins' Milan Lucic.