After the lockout almost a decade ago, the NHL decided they needed to make some changes in order to draw crowds back to the arenas. Easily the least popular of the four major sports, the NHL wanted to find a way to make the game exciting for fans. One of the things they decided to do was eliminate the tie at the end of overtime. Up until this point, a game could end in a tie after the five-minute overtime period.
After the lockout, though, the NHL decided to implement the shootout if the game is still tied after five minutes. This has brought a lot of excitement to the game for sure. However, it has also proven to elevate teams that possibly aren’t as good as their position in the standings would indicate.
For instance, the Toronto Maple Leafs have nine shootout victories this year. Obviously, I’m not saying that the Maple Leafs are a bad team, but the fact remains that if the shootout did not exist, the Leafs would have 44 points instead of the 53 they currently have.
Of course, the argument could be made that the Leafs are winning the games even if they need overtime to do it. Only after we get into the postseason will we know for sure if they are overrated or right where they need to be.