PHILADELPHIA - They're trying to kill the shootout. Well, at least severely wound it. There still will be shootouts in NHL rinks this season, but far fewer, if the league's concept follows the path of the American Hockey League.
The Rangers got the first taste of the new overtime rules Tuesday night against the Flyers, testing a five-minute, 3-on-3 matchup at Wells Fargo Center. The Blueshirts' second preseason game ended with the Flyers ahead 5-3, so why overtime?
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In order to give coaches and players a chance to experience the strategies of the new wide-open, sudden-death format, which was approved by the NHL's Board of Governors on June 24, each team will play three new-style overtimes in the preseason.
The Rangers also will experiment with 3-on-3 on Sept. 26 against the Devils in Newark and Sept. 30 against the Bruins at Madison Square Garden.
On Tuesday night, no one scored, and then everyone went home.
During the season, if no one scores in the new overtime, a shootout decides which team gets two points for the evening, and the other, one. Not Tuesday night.
The change was prompted by advocates, most notably Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, who sees the shootout as gimmicky and unfair, and also by the season-long results of altered overtime in the AHL last season.
In the 2013-14 AHL season, 64.73 percent of games that went into overtime ended via shootout. In the 2014-15 AHL season, with a seven-minute overtime (four minutes of 4-on-4 and three minutes of 3- on-3), only 23.66 percent went to a shootout.
What was it like on the ice in the AHL?
"It's crazy," said Emerson Etem, the former Anaheim forward who came to the Rangers in the trade of Carl Hagelin.
"Defensively, it's man-to-man coverage," said Ryan Bourque, and therefore some AHL coaches with swift skaters deployed three forwards. "A lot of goals are scored on line changes. I think fans liked it, and they liked the shootouts."
Said J.T. Miller: "You see a lot of two-on-ones, three-on-ones, and some players are already tired from the game."