Thursday, August 14, 2008

Finally Some Hockey Content!

The CCHA announced today that, as expected, they will be adding the shootout to conference games beginning this year. If the game is tied after regulation, the teams will play the 5-minute, 5-on-5 overtime as usual. If a winner isn't decided, there will be a three-man shootout. If necessary, it will continue on with other players from the bench until someone wins.

The winner of the game (in regulation, shootout, or overtime) will receive two points. A shootout loss gets a team one point, but unlike the NHL, they do not receive a point for an overtime loss. Basically you can look forward to less-talented teams playing for the shootout once it gets to overtime. If a team wants to attempt to hang on for dear life for five minutes against us, I'm ok with that...

Games decided in a shootout will count as ties in the national standings, which I like. Also, for non-conference games hosted by CCHA teams, the shootout is allowed but the opponent has to agree to it. Those games, too, would only count as ties in the national standings, so there's no real point beyond deciding an artificial winner.

I'm mixed on the addition of shootouts. I like them in the NHL because they're exciting as hell and there are a possible 164 points during the regular season, so a few extra aren't going to make a huge difference. In the CCHA there are only 56 points available and last year a .500 record earned Ferris State the #5 overall seed. It's easy to see how being good in shootouts could give a team a significant boost in the conference standings.

My preferred method would have been a 10-minute 4-on-4 overtime, and if it's tied after that, it's tied. I bet you would get a winner more often than not and it doesn't really deviate too much from the game as a whole. That said, shootouts are really exciting and there's no chance I'd turn one off. I'm just not sure they have a place in a 28-game season.

So, who stands to gain the most from an opportunity to earn an extra point? Over the past 3 seasons, here is the list of ties per CCHA team:
1. Nebraska-Omaha: 14
1. LSSU: 14
3. Alaska: 13
3. Ferris: 13
3. MSU: 13
6. Notre Dame: 11
7. OSU: 10
7. Michigan: 10
9. WMU: 8
10. Miami: 7
11. NMU: 6
12. BGSU: 3

I haven't got the foggiest clue where the CCHA got their numbers from. In the press release, they claim there were 31 tied games in 2007-08, 26 the year before, and 33 the year before that. I've got 19 (38 ties total in the standings), 16, and 26. But whatever.

The team who looks to be hurt the worst by this is Bowling Green. The teams they tend to finish around in the standings (Ferris, UNO, LSSU, Alaska) tie a lot more often than they do, thus their peers will have more opportunities to gain extra points in the standings. We're talking ten over three years, or three to four extra opportunities a season, but in the middle of the CCHA, two, three, four extra points could make a big difference. I'm actually really surprised by the low number out of Bowling Green.

The top-dogs are all fairly equal. If the trends continue, MSU could gain slightly relative to Miami, but it's not going to make a huge difference at the top of the standings, I don't think.

It could make it a little tougher for Northern Michigan to crack the top four, as they don't tie very often and I would expect the top dogs to win shootouts more often than not. It might put them at a handicap of a point or two relative to the top teams in the conference if the trends over the past few years continue.

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