The New York Rangers lost the final Eastern Conference playoff berth to Philadelphia on Sunday because of a gimmick, to which we say: Boo and hoo.
Yes, the shootout remains a gimmick, but only because the NHL hasn't truly committed to the exercise since its introduction after the 2004-05 lockout. The league leaves so much damn wiggle room in the form of the loser points, the consolation prize awarded to teams that fall in overtime or shootouts. Because the loser point offers a relatively soft landing, the shootout is the NHL's circus freak, a sideshow to the real spectacle, which helps explain why some teams still don't treat it with the proper gravitas. (Consider how much practice is devoted to shootouts. Trust me. Precious little.)
The problem for the Rangers is not that they were squeezed out of the eighth spot by a dodgy system, but that they ran out of their own wiggle room in a season that was lost by indifferent play for the middle four months. Then in the skills portion of the NHL beauty pageant, Flyers goalie
(Famously, Rangers coach
If it had faith in the shootout, the NHL would increase the number of shooters to make it more of a team exercise. Then the league would ditch the loser point in favor of a fan-friendly, transparent standing table that reads W, L and maybe GB.
And if it truly trusted the shootout, we would eventually see it in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Feel free to cringe, but this is where the 21st century is heading. Life should move fast, to borrow from umpire Cowboy
I understand the sanctity of playoff overtime as much as the next fellow who bought a scalped upper-balcony, end-arena ticket to watch
It also is viewed as a legitimate game-ender in World Cup soccer, except for Italy's
Now that would be must-see TV.
What's your take?