You've probably heard that the NHL will (probably) be adopting the American Hockey League's three-on-three overtime rule for next season. If you're unfamiliar, here's a quick breakdown of how it works:
During the regular season, the sudden-death overtime period will be seven minutes (7:00) in length, preceded by a "dry scrape" of the entire ice surface.
Teams will change ends at the start of overtime.
Full playing strength will be 4-on-4 until the first whistle following three minutes of play (4:00 remaining), at which time full strength will be reduced to 3-on-3 for the duration of the overtime period.
If the game is still tied following overtime, a winner will be determined by a three-player shootout.
The change in the AHL has been dramatic. A year ago, something like 70 percent of all overtime games were decided in the shootout. This year, that number has dropped allllll the way down to under 30 percent.
This is very good news for the Philadelphia Flyers, who are by far the NHL's worst-ever team in the shootout. They've gone 3-9 in the shootout this season, and even grabbing a few extra points out of those games would be a huge boon for the Flyers in a normal year.
So that begs the question: assuming the Flyers are basically the same team next year -- bad defensively, bad in the shootout -- should they just go all out in games that are three-on-three?
That's what I'd do. For those final four minutes, there's no reason to play safe. Not if you'll almost certainly lose in the shootout anyway. So Craig Berube -- if he's still the coach -- should rotate two units that are solely focused on scoring goals. Just go balls to the wall and pray you score before the shootout. If you lose, oh well. It was probably going to happen anyway.
Unit 1: Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds. Gas pedal.
Unit 2 is a little less obvious in my mind, but you could throw an offensively-minded defenseman out there like Mark Streit, Michael Del Zotto -- or, since this is next year, maybe Shayne Gostisbehere. Then you can mix it up with Brayden Schenn, Matt Read, Michael Raffl, maybe Sean Couturier, maybe Nick Cousins if he's around. I don't know. There are options.
The moral of the story though, is that three-on-three overtime should help the Flyers, if only because it will cut down on the number of shootouts the team has to play.