Recently, the way the NHL handles tie games in the regular season has been brought under the microscope. Currently, if a game is tied at the end of regulation, teams go back and forth in a four-on-four overtime period for five minutes, and then a shootout if the game isn’t decided by then. It seemed like a cool idea when first introduced after the 2004-05 lockout. Now, though, many around the league have soured on the idea of deciding a game through a skills competition.
After last night, you can more than count Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask as one of the more vocal members of that group. The Bruins hosted the St. Louis Blues in one of the most entertaining games of the season, with back-and-forth action from the moment the puck dropped until the final whistle. At the end of overtime, the teams were still locked at 2-2. In the ensuing shootout, Blues forward Derek Roy ended the game when he beat Rask in the final round. Rask reacted in vintage fashion, smashing his stick -–or at least trying to—on the goal post and ice. In the postgame media scrum, he was asked about his opinion on the shootout concept, and didn’t mince words.
“I’d gas it right away. Midseason, take it away,” he said of the shootout format. “I don’t [expletive] want it.”
Well ok then. He went on to explain his mindset during shootout attempts, which essentially removes him from his typical in-game strategy and is a big reason why he’s opposed to them in the first place.
“You can’t be too hyped up,” he said. “You’ve got to try to get a read on the guy, and today I was there pretty much on every shot, except maybe that last one. When you’re there but they score, it kind of sucks even more.”
If you watched the game last night, you can’t blame Rask for being as upset as he was. It truly was a display of some top-level teams, with hits and scoring chances coming at every second. It seemed as though each time a team took the lead, it was gone before they finished celebrating. Rask and his St. Louis counterpart, Jaroslav Halak, each had their share of highlight reel saves. To have a game like this ended in a competition based entirely on trick shots just seemed a little deflating.
That said, no immediate changes are coming to the league’s overtime format, so Rask will have to deal with this for now. He’ll have to do his best to mask his frustrations next time he’s forced to endure a shootout, too. Otherwise, the Bruins front office is going to have to invest in a few more sticks for their starting netminder.