When the NHL introduced the shootout in 2005, following the lockout many purists were aghast at the thought. A skill competition following 65 minutes of fast and furious action? But the shootout, along with the single point for an overtime loss have now become a trademark in the NHL and there is no chance the league will get rid of the 3 point game.
Why? Look at the Western Conference playoff race. Going into Thursday night's games, 7th place and 11th place were separated by a mere 3 points. Do the math. That's 5 teams battling for 2 playoff spots heading into the final week of regular season action. Fans in SanJose, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Colorado and Dallas are getting their money's worth in seeing intense playoff style hockey before the season ends. This creates interest in markets where it is needed.
Some numbers here. Dallas and Colorado has gone to the shootout 11 times this season. Los Angeles and San Jose have had 13 games going to the skills competition. Phoenix has had 16 games going to the shootout.
Let's not forget 2010 when the New YorkRangers and the Philadelphia Flyers played on the final day of the regular season for a right to go to the playoffs. The game went into a shootout the Philadelphia eventually won and started their run to the Stanley Cup Finals later that spring. Or in 2007 where the New York Islanders won on a shootout in their last game just to qualify for the playoffs.
I hope the NHL won't use the shootout in the playoffs. That is wrong on every single level but in the regular season, it is here to stay and there is nothing the purists can do to change that.
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