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NHL playoff overtimes: Too much of a good thing?

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As noted by Brandon Worley of Defending Big D, the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs have already equaled the number of overtime games through two rounds that we saw last preseason: 20, and we're still in the middle of the semifinals. The Chicago Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes accounted for five of them; the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals for four.

Both years were well ahead of the pace established in the previous four playoff years, which averaged 14 overtime games through the semifinals.

Is this too much of a good thing?

Worley wonders if this is a byproduct of parity. Plus, so many teams play for the charity point during the regular season, it may simply have become a facet of their strategy now. The Coyotes and Blackhawks, for example were among the league leaders with 22 overtime appearances in the regular season.

From Defending Big D:

The Dallas Stars received just five loser points this season and missed the postseason by six points. The Coyotes (13), Blues (11), Blackhawks (11), Sharks (10) and Kings (15) all had double-digit overtime or shootout losses and all made the postseason. Now, we're seeing an increase in overtime games in the playoffs.

The question I pose to you: Does the increase in overtime games in the postseason take away from the excitement of such an occurrence?

There's no question that overtime in the Stanley Cup Playoffs remains one of the sport's singular joys — the complete unpredictable nature of it, the war of attrition, the incredible levels of fitness and athleticism on display … you know, everything that the shootout isn't.

That said, it felt like the fourth period during the Coyotes/Blackhawks series, rather than overtime. It wasn't special; rather than "sudden death," it felt like "last goal wins."

But the Game 3 triple-OT between the Rangers and Capitals was special, if not exactly exemplary hockey. Tense, inspiring and with a real sense that it could be a series-changing event.

So "too much of a good thing" might depend on context. Five games in a row? Definitely too much. Overtime in a Game 7 for the Panthers/Devils and Bruins/Capitals? Nothing like it in sports.

(By the way, our May 3 "Marek Vs. Wyshynski" podcast discussed OT options -- including going to 4-on-4 after the first OT.)

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