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United States vs. Russia Hockey: NHL Should Adopt IIHF Shootout Rules

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United States vs. Russia Hockey: NHL Should Adopt IIHF Shootout Rules
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IIHF rules allowed T.J. Oshie to take six shootout attempts against Russia on Saturday, February 15.

COMMENTARY | The United States and Russia played one of the more memorable games since their 1980 matchup at Lake Placid.

A lot has changed since 1980. The rivalry isn't as intense since the Cold War ended and professional players now are allowed to compete in the Olympics, but it was an important game the United States needed to win to have a shot at winning Group A.

Russia's top six is possibly the best in the tournament with the likes of Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk, and the United States have a lot of tough, physical guys that are hard to play against. Both teams have a lot of speed, and that was on full display on Saturday, February 15.

However, as exciting as the game was, the shootout was one of the more exciting ones I have seen since the shootout was adopted after the 2004-05 lockout.

Obviously, just the fact it was the United States against Russia heightened the excitement, but the IIHF shootout rules also helped.

Let me start out by saying I think the shootout is gimmicky. A game shouldn't be decided by a one-on-one play, but since shootouts are the rule for the time being, IIHF rules would at least make the NHL shootouts better.

In the NHL, you are not allowed to repeat shooters. So if the score is tied after each team's first three shooters, they must start selecting players who haven't taken a turn.

In other words, if the shootout goes long enough, a team could be dipping into third- and fourth-line forwards and, possibly, even defenseman.

No one wants to see Drew Miller or John Scott take a shootout attempt -- then again, maybe that would be pretty funny to see. But, more times than not, these guys will not be successful.

However, the IIHF rules state you can use any skater once the initial three skaters have gone. United States coach Dan Bylsma elected to use T.J. Oshie five more times after he took his initial shot.

It paid off as Oshie went 4-for-6 and gave the United States a 3-2 win against Russia. The Russians switched between Kovalchuk and Datsyuk for its shootout attempts.

It was infinitely more exciting to watch Oshie and Sergei Bobrovsky battle it out multiple times. It was like a chess match or a pitcher facing a batter in baseball.

Both players are thinking about their next move and trying to stay one step ahead of the other, and it was fun to see both guys get multiple shots to make a play for their team.

Plus, wouldn't you rather see the best players attempt to win the game for his team? Do you really want the shootout to be determined by a Miller- or Scott-type player?

No. You want your best players giving you the opportunity to win the game, and the IIHF rules allow you to do that.

Tom Mitsos is a Michigan native who writes about the Detroit Red Wings for the Yahoo Contributor Network. He also co-hosts a Red Wings Podcast called The Octopod, and is a high school sports reporter at MLive Media Group. You can follow Tom on Twitter.

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