Hats off to the NHL and this season’s adoption of playing 3 versus 3 in overtime to decide regular season games!
The new concept has added excitement to extra time showcasing the players’ exceptional abilities with more skating room and less traffic to work their magic.
Fans around the league have welcomed the idea of three players from each team sprinting down the ice looking to exploit a weakness in their opponent’s defence and secure a win in spectacular fashion.
Statistics show that goals often come quickly in extra time with the winning marker being registered midway through OT.
It appears that the NHL's experiment with 3-on-3 overtime is doing exactly what it was intended to do…significantly cut down on the number of contests that have to be decided by a shootout.
After 214 regular season games only 13 of them needed a shootout. If you fast forward those numbers to the end of the regular season, a total of 1,230 games, that's a pace of only 74 games that head to a breakaway contest. Last year, a total of 170 games went to a shootout, so the numbers clearly define the difference that 3-on-3 is making.
Keys to Success in 3-on-3
Protecting the puck in all three zones of the ice is paramount, and your shots better hit the net. Missing high and wide will probably lead to the puck heading the other way.
Avoiding turnovers is critical if a team wants to experience any success.
The beauty of 3-on-3 is all the open ice and the fact that teams use their most skilled players.
Watching present day players like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith from the Chicago Blackhawks whirl around the ice in extra time is something to behold as they use their high end skill to find each other and create scoring opportunities.
Other notable trios from the current NHL include Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan or the Anaheim Ducks and their exciting trifecta of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Cam Fowler.
But what if 3-on-3 existed years, even decades ago?
Which combos from the past would have lit it up like the young snipers of today?
For this list, we'll be going with trios that would be on the ice at the same time in a three-on-three overtime scenario so, we're sticking with the formula of a defenceman and two forwards.
15 Ken Reardon, Elmer Lach & Maurice “Rocket” Richard - Montreal Canadiens
14 Al MacInnis, Theoren Fleury & Lanny McDonald - Calgary Flames
13 Red Kelly, Gordie Howe & Ted Lindsay - Detroit Red Wings
12 Pierre Pilote, Stan Mikita & Bobby Hull - Chicago Blackhawks
11 Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito & John Bucyk - Boston Bruins
10 Dan Boyle, Vincent Lecavalier & Martin St. Louis - Tampa Bay Lightning
9 Doug Bodger, Alexander Mogilny & Pat Lafontaine - Buffalo Sabres
8 Ray Bourque, Cam Neely & Adam Oates - Boston Bruins
7 Sergei Zubov, Mario Lemieux & Jaromir Jagr - Pittsburgh Penguins
With Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr in their prime, any team would have had a tough time defending against that offensive juggernaut.
6 Nicklas Lidstrom, Steve Yzerman & Brendan Shanahan Detroit Red Wings
These three skaters would have complemented each other like no other trio in the league during their time in Detroit.
5 Dennis Potvin, Bryan Trottier & Mike Bossy - New York Islanders
4 Larry Robinson, Guy Lafleur & Steve Shutt - Montreal Canadiens
3 Doug Harvey, Maurice “Rocket” Richard & Jean Beliveau - Montreal Canadiens
2 Viacheslav Fetisov, Igor Larionov & Sergei Fedorov -Detroit Red Wings
This trio of Russians dressed as Red Wings would have confused and made their opponents dizzy with their array of moves, passes, lance changes and all world ability.
1 Paul Coffey, Wayne Gretzky & Jari Kurri - Edmonton Oilers
This trio would have brought you to the edge of your seats with all the extra ice and time to work their magic. Coffey finished his NHL career with 1,531 points courtesy of his tremendous skating ability and superior offensive skills.
Gretzky was made for 3-on-3 with his offensive abilities and incredible vision. The ‘Great One’ is widely considered the smartest player in the history of the game.
His reading of the game and his ability to improvise on the fly were unrivaled, he could consistently anticipate where the puck was going to be and execute the right move at the right time. In 20 NHL seasons, Gretzky amassed an incredible 2,857 points.
Kurri was the perfect winger for on Gretzky. The Finnish born player notched 71 goals when the one-two punch played together in Edmonton during the 1984-85 campaign.
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