Hearing from different coaches and GMs who attended the NHL’s research and development camp in Toronto is proving to be fascinating. If it’s not hearing from many GMs who want to reduce the importance of the shootout, it’s getting the opinions of many of the NHLs smartest people about what tweaks they’d like to see the league adopt in the name of improving the sport. For Detroit Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill, he too is excited by some of the possibilities as George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press found out.
Nill said shallower nets would give skaters more room behind the net.
“You can get around the net quicker,” he said. “You have a quicker wraparound. It’s going to create scoring chances.”
As far as the different overtime possibilities they tested out (4-on-4 with a long change, 3-on-3, and 2-on-2 overtime), there’s one part that Nill did not find favor with whatsoever and you can’t really blame him.
The NHL also tested having overtime reduced from 4-on-4 play to 3-on-3 and then down to 2-on-2.
“I thought it was great going to 3-on-3, but 2-on-2 was a disaster,” Nill said. “It was too much open ice, too gimmicky.”
Nill said he would prefer having a game decided with 3-on-3 play in overtime, rather than in a shoot-out.
“I’d rather it be decided with game skills, rather than a game decided on 1-on-1 skill,” he said. “The action in 3-on-3 is unbelievable, and people want to see action.”
We’ve hit on a lot of these things that have been discussed at the R&D camp and, overall, it’s great to see the league try these things out in a careful setting but the biggest boon from all this is how much the dislike of the shootout seems to be gaining momentum. Whether you like it or not is up to your personal tastes and I’m not going to wag my finger at anyone who enjoys the insta-drama offered by the shootout.
Now that the NHL is reducing the importance of shootouts so that they won’t help factor into playoff tie-breakers, it feels as if the clock is ticking on what happens next with the shootout. The league obviously loves the entertainment aspect of it, but it’s clear they hate that it has such a huge effect on games and that teams are becoming more and more willing to go to a shootout to win a game. While I doubt that it will go away entirely, fixing up the points system in the NHL could be the next move the league looks for to straighten things up. After all, having games that reach overtime be worth more points than games decided in regulation has all sorts of flaws attached to it.
What a start.
This series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might be headlined by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but as many have said in the lead-up to tonight’s opener, there is so much more to this second round matchup than that. Washington’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 tonight could be offered up as Exhibit A.
This game had everything except big offensive showings from Crosby and Ovechkin. They had their moments, but in the end combined for just one assist.
What we got instead was a hat trick by T.J. Oshie that was completed with a game-winning goal that made it past the line by such a narrow margin that it warranted a video review:
This game also featured a sequence of three goals in 90 seconds and yet also some great saves by goaltenders Braden Holtby and Matt Murray. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a controversial hit by Tom Wilson that might lead to a suspension.
There was even some odd stuff. Like how Jay Beagle got a stick stuck in his equipment.
If this game sets the tone for the rest of the series, then we should be in for a closely contested, highlight filled affair.
— Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin and Ben Lovejoy accounted for the Penguins’ other markers.
— Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scored the game’s opening goal. It was his first marker of the 2016 playoffs.
— Washington outshot Pittsburgh 15-9 in the first period, but Pittsburgh ended up with a 45-35 edge.
— This is the first time in the 2016 playoffs that Braden Holtby has allowed more than two goals. He surrendered just five goals in six games to Philadelphia.
— Matt Murray suffered his first career postseason loss after winning three straight contests against the New York Rangers.
Tom Wilson has already found himself in a controversy for delivering a late, knee-on-knee hit to Penguins forward Conor Sheary in the third period of Game 1 Thursday night.
You can see that incident below:
Wilson spent two minutes in the sin bin earlier in the contest for crosschecking Evgeni Malkin, but there was no penalty on this play.
Fortunately Conor Sheary was able to stay in the game. The question now is if Wilson’s actions will lead to him being suspended prior to Game 2.
This isn’t Wilson’s first brush with controversy. He delivered a big hit to Brayden Schenn in 2013, but Wilson wasn’t suspended for that incident. Lubomir Visnovsky’s final campaign was cut short due to a check by Wilson that angered the New York Islanders. More recently, Nikita Zadorov was concussed by a crushing blow from the Capitals forward.
In 231 career regular season games, Wilson has 50 points and 486 penalty minutes.
Related: Wilson says ‘I’ve never been a dirty hitter’ after teams voice complaints
For the first 30 minutes of Game 1 between Pittsburgh and Washington it looked like goaltenders Matt Murray and Braden Holtby might outshine these star-studded offenses. Then the floodgates opened up, if only for a moment.
Washington already had a 1-0 lead going into the second frame courtesy of Andre Burakovsky‘s first marker of the 2016 playoffs, but Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin scored back-to-back goals within the span of 57 seconds midway through the second period to tilt the scale in Pittsburgh’s favor. That lead didn’t last for long though as Capitals forward T.J. Oshie got a breakaway opportunity and took full advantage of it.
In total, there were three goals scored in the span of just 90 seconds and you can see all of them below:
After that sequence, the 2-2 tie held for the remainder of the frame. However, Oshie was able to reassert Washington’s edge just 3:23 minutes into the third period.
Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.
Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below: