Are NHL teams playing for overtime after the league’s realignment?

In a previous post, I described how incentives for NHL teams to play overtime games against certain types of opponents are stronger than ever in the league’s newest point system.

Through the first eight weeks of the season, here are the frequencies with which games have gone to overtime, by type.

Game Type Non-OT OT % OT
Divisional 93 22 0.191
Non-divisional, Conference 51 22 0.301
Non-conference 110 27 0.252

Not surprisingly, teams are playing OT contests more often when it doesn’t cost them to be simultaneously giving their opponent a point. Specifically, playoff spots in the current NHL setup are primarily based on divisional standings – and through eight weeks, only 19% of divisional contests have reached overtime. Alternatively, 27% of other game types have reached OT.  FWIW, this difference is not (yet) statistically significant. That said, I will give all of my readers free access to this blog for a year if such a difference isn’t significant at year’s end.

If you are interested in how teams play for overtime, simply look at the boxscores. For example, a few days ago, Columbus and Calgary posted just two shots on goal in final 4.5 minutes, none from inside 60 feet, to play for OT. And in a tilt between Chicago and Florida in October, neither team recorded a shot within 36 feet in the game’s final eight minutes. Lastly, in Chicago’s contest with Carolina, there were no shots in the game’s final 120 seconds (counting missed, blocked, or on goal shots). In hockey, that’s pretty hard to do.

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