3 Ways the NHL Can Improve Overtime

Overtime in the NHL has become boring. Teams have become passive and are constantly aiming to push the game to a shootout. On occasion, we do not even see a shot on goal during the extra frame. Today, we look at three ways the NHL can fix overtime and bring back the excitement that 3-on-3 should produce.

No Offsides in Overtime

Offsides have slowed the game and even killed the momentum one team has. We have seen 2-on-1s or even breakaways halted because a player was offside. There have also been goals taken away because an offside zone entry occurred over a full minute before. To increase the flow in overtime, getting rid of offsides should be considered.

No offsides could lead to more excitement at both ends. For example, there is a turnover at center and a forward hasn’t left the offensive zone yet. That forward could then collect the puck and go on a breakaway against the goaltender. It would also allow for possession to be kept in the offensive zone as the whole team does not have to clear the zone.

This idea would also create strategies that could be deployed. An example would be, do you have a forward camp out in the offensive zone the entire time hoping for a breakout? There would be more action and fewer stoppages in play. Lastly, you would prevent game-winning goals from being taken away, leading to more games ending in the extra frame. It is a way to increase the excitement of overtime, which is what fans want.

Shot Clock

To ensure that some offence occurs during the overtime, a shot clock could be added just like in basketball. If a team does not get a shot on goal within 40 seconds of gaining possession, the attacking team has to clear the zone while dumping the puck behind the goal for the other team to take possession. This would prevent teams from just holding the puck and circling their own zone.

Winnipeg Jets Montreal Canadiens Game Four
The Montreal Canadiens celebrate an overtime victory as goaltender Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets skates by in Game Four of the Second Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

The addition of a shot clock is credited with saving the NBA, so why not try it in the NHL? It would lead to more action and players actually shooting the puck. No more of the 30 seconds passing around the zone and then regrouping because you do not have a shooting lane. Just like in basketball, if you take a shot and can get the rebound, the clock would restart. If the NHL implemented this rule change, it would ensure at least six total scoring opportunities in overtime if the period goes the full five minutes. The NHL and its fans want more excitement, and this is a way to ensure that happens.

No Over and Back

This is another rule taken from basketball. Once you have possession of the puck, you are not allowed to retreat back behind center after crossing it. This would prevent teams who have the puck from going all the way back into their own zone to complete line changes.

If introduced, this rule could have the potential to create more turnover and breakaways. Teams would have to plan their line changes so that they do not get caught, and it would force players who need to bring the puck out of the zone to either give up possession or get the puck into the zone right away. There would also be an increased chance of breakaways as you would not have a player back behind the play past the center line to prevent them.

Needs a Change

Something needs to change with the overtime. Too many times the extra frame is boring and both teams look to be playing for a shootout. Although exciting, the shootout is not on par with overtime from an entertainment standpoint. Three-on-three is exciting and the NHL needs to find a way to bring that excitement back on a nightly basis.


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