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All-Star Game goes 3-on-3

by Alex Kinkopf / Los Angeles Kings

There’s no question the NHL’s implementation of 3-on-3 overtime has been a success across the league with fans and media alike. It’s revitalized the extra period, which had become a bland part of the game – more of an extended wait for the inevitable shootout to come, really.

Along with the constant rush of excitement it’s brought with it’s constant back-and-forth style that features a great deal of open ice that leads to numerous odd-man rushes, it’s actually worked.

Almost 70% of NHL games that have extended past regulation this season have ended in overtime, compared to last year’s final toll of 44.4%.

The Kings have advanced to the new OT format three times this season, winning on two occasions, October 16 vs Minnesota and October 31 vs Nashville, while advancing to a shootout on the third.

“It was definitely exciting,” Jeff Carter said following the Kings’ OT win on October 16. “It’s end-to-end. If you make a mistake or you lose your guy, you’re pretty much screwed. There’s probably a little more strategy than you think that goes into it with hanging guys back and whatnot. It’s going to be exciting for the fans.”

The All-Star Game, which has also struggled to maintain it’s attractiveness as the game has progressed, will now be moving to a 3-on-3 format.

From the NHL:

  • The NHL and NHL Players' Association announced Wednesday that the All-Star Game will be transformed into a 3-on-3 All-Star Tournament comprised of three 20-minute games played by divisional all-star teams competing for a winner-take-all $1 million prize.
  • Each divisional all-star team will have 11 players: six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies.
  • The first two 20-minute games will be the semifinal round, with the Central Division all-stars playing the Pacific Division, and the Metropolitan Division all-stars playing the Atlantic Division. The winners will play for the championship in the third game.
  • One player from each divisional team will be voted in by fans, with the remaining 40 All-Stars to be selected by the NHL’s Hockey Operations Department.

Darryl Sutter could find himself back at the All-Star Game as a coach for the second consecutive season if the Kings continue their winning ways; the head coach of each team leading their respective division at the end of play on January 9 will lead the bench pf their division’s 3-on-3 team in Nashville on January 31.

As if All-Star games haven’t already been a goalie’s nightmare, the new 3-on-3 format could prove to be even more difficult for the NHL’s top netminders.

“It’s a little chaotic, in a way,” Jonathan Quick said following the Kings’ OT win on October 16. “Because you’ve only got three out there, everything’s kind of threatening. Whenever they’re in your zone, you’ve got to be prepared, be on your toes and kind of expect anything.”

There's going to be plenty of more opportunities for natural scorers to develop, and finish plays, like Anze Kopitar, who played in his third All-Star Game last season in Columbus.

"Obviously there's a lot of ice out there," Kopitar said of the new OT format. "There are a few different strategies that you can do about, and Quickie playing the puck, that was kind of now. We haven't done that before. But I guess a big key is to win faceoffs. Right now, we're liking it."

The 2016 All Star game will take place on January 31 at the home of the Nashville Predators, Bridgestone Arena.

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