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Dreger: Number of Playoff OT games up, length of OT down

Darren Dreger

4/19/2010 8:02:55 PM

Two major overtime trends have emerged over the first five days of the NHL Playoffs: the number of overtime games is up and the length of them is down.

There were 37 OT games the first two post-lockout playoff seasons; a total of 13 went longer than one extra period. There have been 39 OT games in the two-plus post-lockout playoff seasons since; only 4 have gone more than one extra period.

Undeniably, overtime games are taking less time to finish, the question is why? One General Manager says more teams now play an up-tempo style which generates more scoring opportunities. Another GM says teams are less concerned about swapping chances and are more focused on gunning for the win then they are concerned about the loss. Two of the seven OT winners have been scored on the power play which is not a new thing, although according to one GM, there is a correlation with how the game is officiated, because less tolerance for obstruction provides for more scoring chances.

An Eastern Conference coach and Western Conference executive submit undistinguished goaltending as a factor, saying they have yet to see a "great goal" scored in overtime. Although this wouldn't explain the blunder veteran defenceman Dan Boyle made which led to an own goal Sunday night, mistakes attributed to younger, inexperienced players are another factor worth considering. However, since brevity is the theme, a popular response from head coaches involved in the playoffs was appropriately brief: "coaching."

Based on the feedback from the around the league on why overtime games are ending so swiftly…good coaching can't be dismissed.