Update: the rule was passed by the Board of Governors and the 3-on-3 Overtime System will be put into place beginning next season.
If you’ve been keeping up with the hockey news, you may know that the NHL Board of Governors will be voting on changing overtime from 5 minutes of 4-on-4 hockey to 5 minutes of 3-on-3 hockey, followed by a normal shootout if necessary. Many people are wondering what this will mean for the Panthers if the idea is passed. Read on for my take on the situation.
The Panthers’ Overtime
The Panthers had a notoriously large amount of games go into overtime and the shootout last season. 24 games went into overtime and of those 24 games, a whopping 18 of them went into a shootout. The Panthers lost 10 of those 18 games, so the shootouts weren’t necessarily the team’s strong suit (despite Luongo’s incredible performance in the 20-round shootout). Of the 6 games that ended in overtime, the Panthers only won 1 against the Colorado Avalanche. Even that one overtime win was scored by Brad Boyes while the team was on the powerplay. This is because the Panthers never really figured out what to do in a 4-on-4 scenario. The line combinations were never truly working and the Panthers needed a true sniper to brush past the opponent and score in these high-stakes scenarios.
Why Would a 3-on-3 Overtime Be Any Different?
Many are skeptical that a 3-on-3 overtime would not be any different for the Panthers than the 4-on-4. However, it is proven that 3-on-3 overtime periods yield far fewer shootouts than 4-on-4 overtime periods do. The AHL made the switch and in one season the percentage of games that went into shootouts decreased from 15.6% to 5.7%. That is pretty impressive to see in one year. Having only 3 players from each team on the ice, besides the goalies, at a time would allow the individual players to shine with more lucidity than ever before. Each player could be highlighted and would have the chance to reach the net more easily without being blocked by the opponent. This allows for more defense than the shootout but less than a 4-on-4 overtime. The Panthers found that their power play units were much more effective with 4 forwards and 1 defenseman. I assume that making this switch in the amount of players allowed to be on the ice at a time during overtime could have a similar effect. More goals will be scored and less games will reach the shootout, which has been an Achilles Heel for the Panthers.
Possible Line Combinations for 3-on-3 Overtime
- Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad – The Young Guns
These three young players would be a strong offensive force against the opponent, while still maintaining defense. It is risky to put one young defenseman with two young forwards but Aleksander Barkov plays a very defensive game. With Bolland gone so often this past season, Barkov had to step up to the plate many times to defend his team. Aaron Ekblad also has a beautiful wrist shot, which could be properly utilized in a 3-on-3 setting. Jonathan Huberdeau has the ability to become a powerhouse next season and he works very well with Barkov. I think this line will be very successful for the team during overtime.
- Rocco Grimaldi, Jaromir Jagr, Erik Gudbranson
Rocco Grimaldi is a powerhouse during overtime periods and the coaching staff has mentioned that a full spot for him is likely if not guaranteed for next season. Grimaldi is ranked toward the top of the league in overtime goals but he is still young and could benefit from some guidance. I think Jaromir Jagr could assist him in this area. The two would play alongside Erik Gudbranson, who may not score as often as he should but is still a hardworking do-or-die kind of player. I think this line could do some real damage.
- Nick Bjugstad, Jussi Jokinen, Dmitri Kulikov
Nick Bjugstad has scored some beauties in the shootout and I’m sure he could do the same in overtime. He works decently with Jussi Jokinen, who had the second most amount of assists last season. He could set up some great goals for Bjugstad and may score a few too in the process. Dmitri Kulikov would work well with the pair because he can defend his team but may also contribute to create some scoring chances as well.
- Brandon Pirri, New Player, Brian Campbell
The Panthers are going to find a goal-scorer and they’re going to find one soon. It may be Patrick Sharp, Kyle Okposo, Phil Kessel, or even our first round draft pick, if we decide to keep it. The player will team up with sniper Brandon Pirri to do some serious damage. These two players will play hard and they will play fast but they will need the help of veteran Brian Campbell in order to keep the puck out of our net. Brian Campbell is a master at this and this line could be a real surprising combination, depending on who that new player is.
I was a bit skeptical at first about this 3-on-3 overtime but after analyzation, I see that it is a bigger deal than I had anticipated. It could really change the course of the game and could benefit the Panthers a lot. I mean, imagine what would’ve happened if the Panthers would have won some of those 10 games that they lost in the shootout because the 3-on-3 overtime opened up more scoring opportunities. We could’ve made the playoffs! With this new overtime system and with the ever-improving regime and strategies, the Panthers will be unstoppable next year.