NHL Overtime – Lessons Learned

NHL Overtime – Why Choose the Shootout?

In this blog, I’m going to summarize my high-level findings of my analysis of NHL 3-on-3 overtime. When you read it, you might say to yourself, “Duh – this is obvious!”

Fair enough, so if you think this is obvious to you, then logically it should also be obvious to NHL players and coaches. Now, look at footage of NHL overtime and ask yourself, why do we see so many bone-headed plays?


1.  The first conclusion is simply stated, 3-on-3 hockey is a puck possession game! Once you see it this way, you will never un-see it! No one will ever be able to convince you otherwise.

2.  Every turnover, other than when shooting to score, must be considered a bad play. Perhaps a corollary to #1, but puck possession is just that important.

3.  Faceoffs are more important in 3-on-3 hockey than in standard 5-on-5, but for the same reason, they establish puck possession. Seeing a theme here?

4.  Transition play (from defense to offense and from offense to defense) is critical to team success in 3-on-3 hockey. It is directly proportionate to the number of scoring chances for and against your team. Body position and angles change quickly.

5.  Defensive systems (man on man, D-zone triangle) must be applied quickly following loss of possession (transition from offense to defense) and well-executed with the intent of causing a turnover (regain puck possession) or allowing only limited quantity and quality of scoring chances.

Once players understand and take the above to heart, your team will be ready to apply systems and improve your 3-on-3 play. Offense is the fun part, but without placing a priority on gaining and maintaining puck possession, you won’t get to play offense.

In the Offensive Strategies section of my blog, I take a closer look at how teams generate high-percentage scoring opportunities.