Bob McKenzie surprised the hockey world yesterday by announcing that the NHL is close to adopting the new scenario for overtime situations.
Pending B of G approval, NHL will go to 3-on-3 overtime for 5 minutes in regular season games next season.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 24, 2015
For those asking, no 4-on-4 OT at all. Right to 3-on-3. 5 minutes sudden death. No goal, it goes to shootout.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 24, 2015
My first thought is that it will reduce the amount of games decided by a shootout, which is a smart move in my opinion. Unfortunately, it may lead to teams playing a hockey version of a tennis match, with teams clearing the puck constantly to avoid allowing the opposing club to set up shop in the offensive zone. Either way, it looks like it's going to happen, so we can start to predict what type of deployment the Habs can use next year. Ideally, they would concentrate on using their best players, and immediately shorten the bench once the overtime begins.
Essentially, you're going to get 4 shifts out of a 5 minute overtime, however it may be stretched to 5 or even 6 shifts due to 3-on-3 play being extremely taxing on a player's endurance.
1. Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, P.K Subban
As we've seen throughout the 2014-15 season, Plekanec and Pacioretty made for a great duo during the penalty kill, often times earning more scoring chances than team on the powerplay, which indicates that the two can create offense without the help of an additional winger. Subban can support the two talented forwards from the back end, and has the speed to compensate for any aggressive plays by the part of his wingers.
2. Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Jeff Petry
When it comes to chemistry, Gallagher and Galchenyuk have shown flashes of brilliance. They rank 3rd and 4th respectively in terms of points per 60, and with the help of a marauding Petry, they would have the opportunity to dominate opponents with their speed and creativity.
3. Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais, Nathan Beaulieu
Not the ideal combination, but one we'll surely see. Pacioretty is 1st in terms of points per 60, whereas Desharnais ranks 6th on the team. It would be up to Beaulieu to make up for any defensive shortcomings in this particular deployment. If possible, using Subban in this situation would be an upgrade, although he can't play the entire 5 minute 3-on-3 overtime...or can he?
4. Lars Eller, Andrei Markov, PK Subban
As is always the case with Eller, in this scenario he's put in a defensive role, a responsibility that will lead to him starting the majority of his shifts in the defensive zone. Seeing as how Subban is the best defender on the team, I once again added him to the trio, however he can be replaced by the mobile Nathan Beaulieu, or possibly even Alexei Emelin, although considering Emelin's skating abilities, it's probably not wise to use him during a 3 on 3 situation.
5. Max Pacioretty, Brendan Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk
Speed kills, and this line has it in spades. I doubt that Michel Therrien would risk sending out a combination that doesn't include any defenders, but seeing as how the three aforementioned players have made a habit of spending the majority of their shifts in the offensive zone, I don't think it would necessarily be a foolish concept. The idea is that if you keep the puck 200 feet from your goalie, you don't really need defenders.
6. Brandon Prust, Dale Weise, Jeff Petry
The fact of the matter is that some of the grinding forwards will make it onto the ice, unless Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher somehow find a way to eliminate fatigue. It's not the ideal setup, but to be fair both Prust and Weise have the ability to create offense, as limited it is, as well as score some points in the attrition war.
7. Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk, PK Subban
Same concept as the Plekanec line, but with less emphasis on defensive awareness, and more on offensive creativity. Seeing as Galchenyuk and Pacioretty are both deployed as left wingers, this may not be a realistic solution. If Galchenyuk is ever used regularly in his natural position, centre, this may end up being the most potent combination the Habs could use in a 3-on-3 scenario.