Changing OT format would be wrong

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:15 AM ET

The recent chatter of altering the post-season overtime rules reeks of micro-tinkering.

When the Vancouver Canucks finally sealed a 5-4 victory over the Dallas Stars in a four-overtime epic, many viewers in the east had already fallen asleep long before the outcome was decided at 3:30 a.m. ET last Thursday.

In the ensuing days, the debate has heated up regarding potential ways to avoid these marathons.

There have been ideas of shootouts and of implementing four-by-four play after two overtime periods. You name it, they've suggested it.

But is such a drastic change really necessary?

Former Calgary Flames general manager Craig Button, now a scout with the Maple Leafs, is quick to point out that approximately 80-85% of playoff overtimes end within the first 10 minutes of extra time.

The truth is, lengthy games such as the Canucks-Stars battle are few and far between. And when they do take place, they serve as special moments that are unique to the sport of hockey.

Many hockey types, for instance, fondly recall exactly where they were when the New York Islanders' Pat Lafontaine scored in the fourth overtime period to beat the Washington Capitals on April 18, 1987.

Lafontaine's tally remains one of the most memorable post-season goals of the past 30 years.

For the record, only one post-season game dragged on longer than two overtime periods during the 2006 playoffs. Shawn Horcoff was the hero in that May 10 tilt, scoring the winner in the third overtime period to give his Edmonton Oilers a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks.

HEAD GAMES

After seeing the Ottawa Senators' Patrick Eaves laid out by Pittsburgh's Colby Armstrong last night, Buffalo Sabres managing partner Larry Quinn has even more fodder for his anti-head shots stance.

Armstrong's hit on Eaves was legal, by definition of the NHL rule book, but Quinn and Sabres ownership want to change that. They are still steamed at the alleged head shot delivered by the Sens' Chris Neil on the Sabres' Chris Drury seven weeks ago, a blow that left the Buffalo co-captain with a concussion.

While on the subject of Neil, television views must have enjoyed a collective chuckle during the second intermission on Hockey Night in Canada when they heard Neil call Armstrong's check "a little late," leaving Eaves "vulnerable." Hey Chris, isn't that exactly the same things you were accused of doing by the Sabres in the Drury incident?

SHARK BAIT

The spiciest matchup of the first round is proving to be the highly-combustible San Jose Sharks-Nashville Predators slugfest, which resumes tonight at the Shark Tank with the series tied 1-1.

The mud-slinging is heating up between the teams after a pair of questionable Nashville hits left two Sharks hobbled.

Scott Hartnell avoided a suspension for his knee-on-knee hit on Jonathan Cheechoo in Game 1, but Alexander Radulov will be out of the lineup tonight after wallpapering Steve Bernier into the boards in Game 2.

Nashville coach Barry Trotz said the Sharks attempted to start a "street brawl" after the hit by Radulov, who received a one-game suspension.

What did Sharks coach Ron Wilson think of the Trotz accusation?

"Comical," Wilson said.

Wilson was fined an undisclosed amount by the league yesterday for blowing off his required post-game news conference after Game 2.


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