The NHL All-Star game is broke ground this year with a new 3 on 3 format. The league decided to do this in order to keep the entertainment in the game itself and showcase all the speed and skill the players have, but are not able to show in a regular game setting or even a four on four contest.
Adopted from the AHL, a 3 on 3 format was introduced into the overtime periods just this season before the teams would go into a shootout. Fewer players equal more ice. With the skill of the players now a day, it gives them the opportunity to take control quite easily. Especially with rookie star Dylan Larkin setting the record Saturday night for fastest lap with a time of 12.894 seconds in the competition and then put up a lap time of 13.172 seconds after stumbling into the final turn. 19-year-old Larkin beat Mike Gartners 13.386 second lap set in 1996. Although everyone isn’t this fast, it still sets a great stage for excitement near the end of a game for years to come. The players will only get faster and more skillful as they come into the league. They dedicate an entire day before the All Star game for each player elected to participate, to showcase skills such as passing, shooting, speed, and agility in various different small events. This year it ultimately lead to the rise of the Eastern Conference team and their ability to decide when they were going to play in the following days games, first or second.
Now one would think that oh its just going to be one three one three game huh? That was not what the NHL had in mind. They set the stage for three separate twenty-minute games, switching ends at the ten-minute mark. First, the Atlantic division took home a win over the Metropolitan division by a score of 4-3. Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban scored the game-winning goal to put the Atlantic ahead, that can be watched here. Then, the Pacific played the Central division and combined for 15 goals in 20 minutes. Winner of the fan vote and MVP of the all-star game John Scott netted two in their first game to take down the Central division that can be watched here.
Then it all came down to the final game, the Atlantic vs. the Pacific. It took 13 minutes for either of the teams to score. Ducks forward Corey Perry gave the Pacific the lead late in the game and almost put it away with another until it was called off for goalie interference on Oilers forward Taylor Hall. The Pacific goalies kept them ahead in the game making huge save on guys like Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau, who had a couple great opprotunities, and Sharks forward Joe Pavelski.
Final game can be watched here
The NHL overall has seen a rise in overtime goals as a result of the 3 on 3 format this season. It also makes the coaches think differently. Do they put out all forwards, or do they put out two and a defenseman. Basically what kind of talent you have on your team greatly determines what the coach would decide.
The NHL has successfully created a new way to end games without going to ol’ reliable, the shootout at the end of overtime. I would take two stars breaking down ice on a 2-on-1 any day of the week for a greater chance to salvage a point out of the game. The strategies going into the new game play have certainly changed for fear of odd man rushes each way down the ice. What positional players are being sent out to start? What kind of players are they? When I say this, are they players who play both ways as in offense and are a big part of the defense as well, or are they more offense driven forwards? Take the Pittsburgh Penguins as an example. In my eyes I would send out my three stars, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Sidney Crosby, as I hope coach Mike Johnston would do the same. I could go on and on about different combinations for teams as they enter the 3-on-3 overtime period, but all I am saying that there is certainly strategy and extensive thought before sending the guys out there. This being said the NHL All-Star Game was more than expected. All the star players were skating hard and actually playing, unlike their NFL counterparts in the Pro Bowl, which is another story for another day. Every hockey fan out there should be ecstatic for what is to come in the season and I couldn’t even imagine what would happen if a playoff game came down to an overtime with the 3-on-3. Just let that settle in for all you serious hockey fans.