Gotta See It: St. Louis Blues coaches debate 3-on-3 strategy

Roger Millions reports from Las Vegas where general managers from the NHL comment on going to 3-on-3 overtimes next season.

“It’s going to be as exciting as heck,” says Ray Bennett.

The St. Louis Blues assistant coach is discussing 3-on-3 overtime, the most thrilling new wrinkle added to the NHL for 2015-16 not named McDavid or Eichel.

In a sweet 10-minute video produced by the Blues, fans are given a fly-on-the-wall look into Ken Hitchcock’s coaches meeting on how to attack the new 3-on-3 OT format.

The clip delivers great insight into the decision-making process going on in all 30 NHL rinks this month.

Here are some interesting points and issues brought up by Hitchock & Co.:

  • Will teams assign a single coach to be responsible for 3-on-3, or will those decisions be made by committee?
  • Hitchcock notes that in the prospect scrimmages, every game that went to 3-on-3 was over in 90 seconds because a goal was scored off the rush.
  • Having a goalie who can move the puck is crucial, especially when you sense the opposition is fatigued. A dump-in may not be a safe play at all, if the goaltender zips a long pass up-ice the other way for an odd-man rush.
  • Where should fresh players exit the bench on what will be some very long line changes? “It’s really difficult to get on and off the ice,” Bennett explains. “There’s probably not going to be a lot of whistles.”
  • The Blues may be leaning to sending out three forwards for some shifts and no defence. All offence. “You might as well go for it,” Hitchcock says.
  • Specific 3-on-3 face-off plays will have to be developed and practised.
  • Benches will shorten significantly. At most, St. Louis is thinking of using three defencemen (perhaps just two, Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo) and fewer than six forwards. The idea is to double-shift Vladimir Tarasenko — “at least” — because he’s awesome.

(via St. Louis Blues)

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