Erik Karlsson sounds off on 3-on-3 overtime

Mika Zibanejad scored the shootout winner as the Ottawa Senators defeated the struggling Calgary Flames.

Not everyone is a fan of the NHL’s new 3-on-3 overtime — that fast-paced, end-to-end, open-ice solver of shootouts. Namely, the reigning Norris Trophy winner.

“It feels more like a bag skate for players like me,” Erik Karlsson told reporters Thursday, the morning after he skated a game-high 30:28 in a contest that, alas, needed to be solved by a shootout. “It hasn’t ended any games for us yet.

“It’s not really hockey. It’s whoever holds on to the puck longest and whoever cheats the most. Small stuff like that. Kinda boring,” the Ottawa Senators defenceman went on. “I don’t really know what extra purpose it serves other than getting players extra tired. I don’t see why we would keep it.”

Karlsson called for a return to the “old-fashioned way,” arguing that tied games should simply end in ties.

Winnipeg Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien also spoke out against the format Saturday, calling 3-on-3 a “terrible part of hockey.”

“It’s not hockey,” Byfuglien told the Winnipeg Free Press. “It ain’t hockey. It’s ‘just let the kids play.’ It’s stupid. Just keep it 4-on-4, 5-on-5. Let’s just play hockey.”

Karlsson has played more 3-on-3 than anyone in the NHL thus far, as the Senators have played through it four times in nine games. Each time, Ottawa has required a shootout to get a result.

The frequent OTs are a significant reason the blueliner ranks second only to the Blues’ Alex Pietrangelo in average ice time, at 26:50.

Karlsson actually anticipated the strain the new rule would place on workhorses like himself when it was first introduced.

“For someone who plays a lot of minutes, I think 3-on-3 will be tough. It will be a lot more skating, and it will be harder on some players,” he told Sportsnet back in June.

“I think everybody is playing the game to end it in regulation, and everyone is playing to win in overtime as well. They’re not waiting for the shootout to come. And when it comes, yes, it’s a bit of a lottery, but it’s part of the game and I’ve always liked shootouts.”

Eighteen of the 27 games that have required overtime this season have been decided in the extra period (66.6 per cent), but it will interesting to see if that success rate drops as coaches grow more familiar with the format.

In 2014-15, under the 4-on-4 format, 44.4 per cent (136 of 306) of overtime games reached a conclusion before going to a shootout.

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