The NHL brought in the shootout to eliminate tie games in the 2005-06 season. At the time, it may have seemed to be a creative alternative, but in reality it’s the opposite. I say that because when it comes down to playoff tiebreakers, shootout wins have no impact.
The Detroit Red Wings have been a consistent victim of the shootout. My theory on that is the Detroit Red Wings always have been a veteran heavy team. The shootout favors younger players with fresher ideas for how to trick the goalie. Plus they are faster and more agile. As result, the Detroit Red Wings really are not built for the shootout.
My alternative to the shootout is rather simple. Either the NHL should award playoff tiebreaker points for the shootout winner or simply extend overtime for until a team scores. Even if that means that after a certain minute mark in the overtime period with no goal, less players would be on the ice. This could bring even more excitement and focus as the skaters would have more ice to work with.
Currently overtime lasts for five minutes during the regular season, followed by the shootout if no goal is scored. In the playoffs there is not even a shootout. Instead there are 20 minute overtime periods until a single goal is scored. Why should there be a difference? One game, one set of rules. My regular season overtime would be ten minutes long. For the first half there would be four skaters on each side, if no goal is scored by then, the next three minutes would be three on three.
And finally if there is still no goal scored, the last two minutes would be two on two with the option of a goalie being pulled for an extra skater. That way there would be an empty net which would lead to a high probability of a goal. After ten minutes, if there’s no goal, then the result would be a tie. For the playoffs, I feel that the overtime format should stay as it is, twenty minutes at a time until a goal is scored.
Teams can complain all they want about how much they don’t like ties, but a tie is still better than a loss. Getting into overtime guarantees each team one point as it is. That one point combined with your overtime record can put your team in the playoffs. In the long run, eliminating a shootout and tinkering with the length of overtime would help even the playing field and bring more excitement to the NHL. If it helped the Detroit Red Wings win some more games, that would be great as well.