Shootouts suck. Let’s get that very indisputable, not subjective fact out of the way before discussing shootouts any further. Shootouts can provide moments of pure brilliance, but they’re a horrible way to decide who wins or loses a hockey game. Worse, they’re a horrible way to determine which team makes the playoffs and which team narrowly misses out.
Unfortunately, shootouts in the NHL are a harsh reality every hockey fan has to deal with. The league has taken steps to reduce their significance by shifting overtime to 3-on-3 hockey and that’s a step worth commending. Still, the shootout continues to play an important role at the end of some NHL games.
With all of the above in mind, maybe it’s time to consider adopting a move out of the KHL’s playbook. The KHL will reportedly switch to a slightly longer shootout effective immediately, changing from three total rounds to five.
Effective immediately, KHL shootout is now 5 rounds instead of 3.
— Aivis Kalniņš (@A_Kalnins) August 21, 2017
The KHL came up with a pretty good idea here. The shootout, as ridiculous as it is, can still be improved. If a league is planning to end games with a gimmick, they might as well make that gimmick as fair and as reasonable as possible.
In their current NHL format, shootouts last three rounds unless there’s a tie. This best-of-three format ends things quickly, but it also maximizes the already-high luck factor. Through extending the shootout to a best-of-five format, the KHL is giving skill at least a bit more of a chance to rise to the surface. A goalie who is stronger at stopping shootout attempts has more time to prove he’s better. By the same token, a team that has several players who thrive on shootout attempts won’t be bested as easily should things be decided in five rounds instead of three. Time can be luck’s equalizer.
We’re not fans of the shootout and here we are rooting for longer shootouts. Summer really does make hockey fans crazy.