NHL Overtime – Third Special Team

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NHL Overtime – Third Special Team
In a previous blog (NHL Overtime – How Important is the Extra Point?), we established that at the very least, teams that want to be competitive in the NHL standings must win their share of extra points in overtime and/or shootout.

The quick recap: On average, teams play 18 overtime games in a regular 82-game schedule, win six and lose six during overtime, leaving 6 games decided by shootout, where teams win 3 and lose 3. Of course this is on average (one team wins and one team loses every game) and suggests that 9 extra points is the standard number of extra points earned over the course of 82 games.

In general, and certainly early in the season when standings are still a long way from decided, coaches should focus some practice time on how to increase their team’s chance of earning every extra point. In a previous blog (NHL Overtime – Why Choose the Shootout?), we discussed why some teams might prefer to settle tie games by shootout rather than during overtime.

Regardless of the strategy, 3-on-3 play should be considered a “special team”, in the same vein as “power play” and “penalty kill”. As with the traditional special teams, a coach should be assigned to implement offensive and defensive systems to ensure players identified as overtime resources are working cohesively.

The success rate is simple to measure as it translates into a ROW (regulation and overtime win–a standings tiebreaker since the 2010-2011 season), a loss or a shootout result. Strong overtime team play (offensive and defensive systems) will lead to more points and better positional standings.