Hodgemail: Should NHL use 4-on-4 at any point in playoff OT? Staff

5/4/2012 8:54:02 PM

There's nothing like sudden death overtime in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Then again, there's nothing like a good night's sleep either.

While there's much merit in the argument that the 'next goal wins' format is exciting, watching OT period after OT period of cautious, trap-style hockey as each team waits for the perfect scoring opportunity can be pretty dull.

Hence the old, "I fell asleep during the overtime and woke up to an infomercial" line the next morning around the water cooler.

There is one possible solution to open things up in extra time and reduce the marathon time. Anyone for 4-on-4? Right from the start of OT? How about after the first OT?

So here's Dave's question for you: "Should the NHL employ 4-on-4 at any point in playoff overtime?"

Here are the answers that Dave liked best:

Evan says: "We love the wars of attrition and we never forget them - Keith Primeau's goal for Philly against Pittsburgh is still a vivid memory."

Chris is voting yes, yes, yes for 4 on 4: "After an overtime period? Yes. After 60 minutes of regulation time? Yes. After the national anthem? Yes."

Dustin has the following suggestion: "If you don't want to stay up for long overtimes, go to bed and watch Onrait and O'Toole in the morning." (Well yes, we can recommend that).

Rob doesn't mind 4 on 4 in overtime, but with an asterisk: "It shouldn't be sudden-death. If a goal is scored, keep playing for the full 20-minute period."

Dale might want to do that 5-on-5: "We Canadians wear the day-after-triple overtime bags under our eyes as proudly as the players wear their scars."

This comes from Shawn: "By altering the overtime format, you're changing the way hockey's founders intended the game to be played." (in June, shawn?)

Will sent this e-mail: "Rather than break tradition, why not call penalties in overtime?" (Some would say that would break tradition).

And finally, from Brian: "Don't mess with the playoffs. They're the only reason I'm still interested in the NHL."

And Dave's Reply to All:

It has never made any sense to me that playoff rules and regular-season rules are different and they aren't, with the exception of overtime.

Now this could lead to a discussion of shootouts, but let's not go there - I will grudgingly accept the argument against shootouts in the playoffs.

But not the argument that playoff overtime needs to be 5-on-5 so games might never end.

The 3-overtime marathon between the Rangers and the Capitals wasn't the best hockey entertainment of the playoffs - it was merely the longest.

4-on-4 overtime in the regular season has gained widespread acceptance, so why should fans object to 4-on-4 overtime in the playoffs?

To the many who do, I say: 4-on-4 doesn't guarantee a goal - you might still get your marathon games - and think of how much more exciting they'd be.