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EPIC DUEL, STAINED BY SHOOTOUT – Henrik and Marty Put on Show, But Rangers Fall to Devils

By Tony Grater

I have been a supporter of the shootout since the NHL implemented it after the lockout, for the very simple reason that I hate ties. Sports are, after all, about winning and losing. And there is nothing worse, in my opinion, then going to or watching a sporting event, and at the conclusion of the game, nothing being settled. So, while I don’t necessarily like the shootout, I support it just for the pure fact that I won’t have to put up with ties anymore.

Well last night’s game may have changed my mind, at least for this one instance.

In what may go down as one of the greatest regular season games of all time, at least in my era, the Rangers and the Devils battled for 65 nonstop, end-to-end, heart-stopping, pulse racing minutes last night, in a jam-packed, anxiety filled, playoff like atmosphere at the Garden. One would have thought it was May 12th, instead of January 12th, and that Henrik Lunqvist and Martin Brodeur were pouring every ounce of their performance into the game of their lives, for the simple reason that there was no tomorrow if either one of them blinked first.

But in the end, such a brilliant performance by both netminders, and by both teams, boiled down to a skills competition. And that’s where the shame of this all lies. And this is not because I am a Ranger fan, and I am annoyed that Erik Christensen and Ales Kotalik (money players when it comes to shootouts), could not pot home goals in either of their attempts. And it is also not because I am annoyed that Patrik Elias blemished Lundqvist’s brilliant performance. No, it is a shame because neither one of these teams deserved to lose last night. A 0-0 tie would have not only been acceptable, but it would have possibly elevated the game to legendary status. And it still might, this game could go down as the best of the year when it’s all said and done. But it will also be looked at by purists as a game decided by a skills competition.

Think of it from a baseball stand point. Would Yankee or Red Sox fans want a duel of brilliant pitching performances by Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez, decided by a home run hitting contest similar to the All-Star Game? No, you want to see who cracks first. You want to see the bullpen expand the game out to 15 heart wrenching innings. You want to eventually see a pinch hitter off the bench for one of the teams, dump a bloop single over the shortstop’s head for the game winning single. And that is where hockey has to correct this problem. As much as I like that games are now decided no matter what, a great game like last night’s should either go on until there is a real winner, or end in a 0-0 tie. Part of me still detests the latter part of that statement, but the purist in me understands that, and knows it is true.

What should be done about this then? Well, that is a debate for another article. I have a lot of opinions on possible solutions, but I will say that I think only a 5 minute overtime is ridiculous. I understand that it takes time to resurface the ice, and that people have to go to work the next day, and children have to go school, but the same is the case in any other sport. Maybe cut down the other activities during intermissions, so you can have a full 20-minute overtime. The bottom line is a performance like last night, by two brilliant goaltenders, and two arch rivals, should be allowed to maintain the purity that it deserved. It was still an amazing game, and I am not trying to take away from it, but it could have been so much more, if the NHL would have allowed it to.

7 comments:

  1. I have never supported the shootout and still think there should be at least one more 5 min OT or something like it rather then a shootout. That game should have never ended like it did. I think the shootout actually took something away from such great game if you know what I mean. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed the win since we beat the Rangers :) but I hated the way it ended.

    Maybe a 3 on 3 or a 10min 4 on 4 instead of shootout. All I know is anything is better then a shootout.

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  2. I definitely agree Breodeurrules. Last night's game definitely didn't deserve to end in a shootout!

    A 10 min 4 on 4 would be good, but what about the ice conditions at that point? If that's not possible, a 3 on 3 for 5 min. would work as well. There would definitely be scoring then!

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  3. I think if they brought the zambonis out right away, they could resurface the ice rather quickly. A 10 min. 4 on 4, followed by a 5 minute 3 on 3 is another option. There are many ways they could go with it, but they need to at least look into it.

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  4. Anything but the shootout, please.

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  5. I've always hated this gimmick, but even more so now....and CJ, you spelled Brodeur wrong.....lol

    Wolfie

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  6. Yeah I know I did...I can't edit it though!

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  7. Lol..it's ok. This isn't a spelling contest!

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