Pending Board of Governors approval, next season, the NHL will be moving to 3-on-3 overtime. Gone will be 4-on-4, and in its place, fewer players, and significantly more open ice. It'll still be more five minutes before, if still scoreless, proceeding to the shootout... but man, there could be way, way more goals with this change.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">NHLPA was adamantly opposed to AHL-tested model (4 mins of 4 on 4 and 3 mins of 3 on 3) so NHL choice was no change at all or 3 on 3 for 5.</p>— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) <a href="https://twitter.com/TSNBobMcKenzie/status/613499811321507840">June 24, 2015</a></blockquote>
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While the Calgary Flames have yet to score a 3-on-3 overtime goal, they've already played that format. Specifically, nearly a full minute, before going ahead to score anyway. And get this: they absolutely dominated it.
Take yourself all the way back in time to 2014. Specifically, the last few hours of last year. The Flames rallied back from a two-goal deficit against the Edmonton Oilers, only to fall behind again in the third period. They then tied it about two and a half minutes later, and the 3-3 game looked like it was going to overtime.
With 59 seconds to go in regulation, Josh Jooris and Jeff Petry took coincidental minors. Jooris was called for trip, and Petry a dive. Regulation played out, and then, 3-on-3 OT happened:
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The Flames elected to send out their top pairing: Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie. Providing offensive support was Sean Monahan. The Oilers countered with Taylor Hall - and to be sure, Hall vs. Monahan is a great battle - and, uh, Andrew Ference and Justin Schultz, which... oh, no. Oh, my.
True, it's the Oilers, and they're pretty awful, but that doesn't take away from just how well the Flames performed in a 3-on-3 situation.
They had the puck the entire time. Monahan won the faceoff, and the Flames brought it up the ice. They were unobstructed on their zone entries, unobstructed in their passing, and completely controlled the play. That Calgary trio could do whatever they wanted with the puck, and the Oilers, limited to a single clear and one moment of hugging along the boards, were completely powerless to stop them.
Sure enough, that lone Oilers clear came at the end of the coincidental minors. Exhausted, the Oilers defencemen - so far away from their zone thanks to the switching of the ends in overtime - went for a line change. While the Flames still had the puck. And as great a player as Hall may be, an exhausted one who never once touched the puck is no match for two fresh Flames going in on the goal.
The Flames may have been a poor possession team throughout the 2014-15 season, but that was one instance where they completely dominated. And really, there's no reason to think they can't do it again. After all, they have the personnel.
Thanks to that one minute of greatness, we already know who the Flames will send out for 3-on-3 overtime. Giordano and Brodie are givens; after all, they're arguably the best defence pairing in the league, and one lone forward will have a tough time going in on them. Not only that, though, but both are capable of scoring goals and putting up points, so a formidable defensive barricade is also a lethal offensive threat.
Round that out with Monahan, a two-way forward who honed both his offensive and defensive skills in his sophomore season, and at 3-on-3, the Flames could actually be really, really scary. They may not have fantastic depth, but this top-heavy team has the elite personnel to potentially take care of things quickly.
After that unit, things get a bit more muddled. As things currently stand, Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman would definitely replace Giordano and Brodie on defence - and really, those would probably be the only four defencemen used - and another forward would come in for Monahan. Would it be Mikael Backlund, his defensively sound but less offensively inclined (but still with the ability to score) counterpart? The veteran savviness of Jiri Hudler? The pure offensive talent in Johnny Gaudreau? Or maybe they'd go with the one guy younger than Monahan: 19-year-old Sam Bennett.
The Flames have a lot of forward options in this scenario, and free agency might bring them more yet on the backend. As it stands, though, Calgary is at an inherent advantage should the NHL officially switch to 3-on-3 overtime, and it's largely thanks to Giordano and Brodie.