Blue Jackets notebook: More overtime and fewer shootouts, GMs say

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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WASHINGTON — When it comes to tweaking the NHL’s overtime formats, Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen saw all he needed to see at the prospects tournament in Traverse City, Mich., two months ago.

There were two proposals made yesterday at the general managers meetings in Toronto that would settle more games in overtime and fewer games in shootouts.

The first, by Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland, called for five minutes of 4-on-4 play followed by five minutes of 3-on-3 before a shootout.

The second, by the St. Louis Blues’ Doug Armstrong, called for 10 minutes of 4-on-4 before a shootout.

The current format — a five-minute 4-on-4, then the shootout —was put in place before the 2005-06 season when the league was emerging from a lockout.

“I’m for anything that helps hockey decide more games than shootouts,” Kekalainen said.

But he’s firmly in Holland’s camp, he said, after watching the format in action at the prospects tournament in September.

The Red Wings operate the tournament, so it was easy for Holland to implement.

“We saw that it was exciting,” Kekalainen said. “During the 3-on-3 play, there were 2-on-1s and 3-on-1s … just a lot more scoring chances for either team.

“Some of the 4-on-4 overtimes are the most exciting hockey we have right now. And 3-on-3, obviously, there’s even more open ice out there.”

The proposals mark the second time the NHL has attempted to minimize the importance of shootouts.

Two seasons ago, the general managers and the board of governors approved a proposal by former Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson that the league stop counting shootout wins when it came to playoff tiebreakers.

The GMs also were given an update yesterday on the league’s new no-touch icing rule change, which blows the play dead before two players can collide at the end boards.

So far, the league said, there has been no noticeable increase in icing calls. But more important, there have not been any gruesome injuries in those plays.

“I’ve said all along, if it prevents one injury, the change is worth it,” Kekalainen said.

Captive audience

Russian goaltending legend Vladislav Tretiak watched the Blue Jackets’ game against the Washington Capitals last night. Tretiak was said to be scouting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky in advance of the upcoming Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Bobrovsky is expected to be Russia’s No. 1 goaltender.

Savard scratched

Defenseman David Savard was scratched last night for the fourth time in five games.

After drawing raves early in the season, Savard has lost his edge, coach Todd Richards said.

“There has been a tail-off (in Savard’s play),” he said. “I liked (Dalton) Prout’s last game (Saturday’s 5-2 win over the New York Islanders). He got back to the style of game he needs to play, with a physical edge. He’s going hard into the corner.”

aportzline@dispatch.com

@aportzline

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