Shootout should be altered

Published November 20, 2005

Traditionalists hate the NHL's new shootout to break ties. Lightning coach John Tortorella hates the shootout, too. Of course he does. The Lightning can't win one.

But most players say they like it. That's good because, Tortorella said, from what he has heard the shootout is here to stay.

However, the NHL should consider tweaking it a bit for next season. Instead of having three shooters a team, the league should do what international hockey does and have five shooters each. Nowadays, if a team falls behind by a goal in a round, it almost never comes back to win. Five shooters give teams a chance to come back.

There are two reasons the NHL might have gone to a three-round shootout. One, it was worried about the amount of time five rounds would take. Two, there was a concern that five rounds would put too much strain on the goalie.

Dallas goalie Marty Turco thinks neither reason holds much water.

"I don't think it's too much (on the goalie)," Turco said. "They probably thought it was going to be a lot to ask of just in terms of a time consumption, but as everybody sees, it doesn't take long. You clean the ice anyway; you might as well do it for the fans' benefit.

"But regardless, three or five, I do think it has helped revive the game that was gone for a whole season and helped create more energy and atmosphere in the rinks. And just for anybody, just to have everybody stick around for a game of hockey, that's what we want, and I don't think it's too much to ask. I just think it's great in general anyway."

AMERICAN PIE IN THE FACE: The Islanders' Rick DiPietro likely will be the No. 1 goalie for U.S. Olympic team, but who will take the other two roster spots? Edmonton's Ty Conklin appears out of the mix, so it likely will come down to Philadelphia's Robert Esche, Buffalo's Ryan Miller and the Lightning's John Grahame. And check out what Esche said about Miller and Grahame making the team:

"Definitely not both of them. I'm not going to get into it, but one of those guys doesn't belong in the NHL."

Wow, was he talking about Miller or Grahame?

HELLO, COLUMBUS: Sergei Fedorov must be bummed. He couldn't wait to leave Detroit as a free agent so he could go someplace warm, where he believed he could prolong his career. So the 35-year-old center signed with Anaheim and now the Ducks have shipped him to where he will need a parka again: Columbus.

"I know he wanted to be in Anaheim, or Los Angeles, and that's why he left Detroit," said Wings coach Mike Babcock, who coached Fedorov last season with the Ducks. "He'd been there (Detroit) his whole career, he must have wanted to go (to California). I don't know whether he had this planned, but that's part of this game. You go where they want you."

THE TEAM TO BEAT: Is there a better team right now than the Senators? They get Buffalo's vote. The Senators have creamed the Sabres three times this season, outscoring them 21-5.

"You want to know why they're so good?" Buffalo's Chris Drury said. "In the first period, Daniel Alfredsson gets one of his three breakaways. Marty ( Biron) makes the save. The puck goes in the corner, Alfredsson goes and hits a guy, then he's the first guy back in the other end, and he hits our guy below their goal line - all in 14 seconds. If I had that clip on tape, I'd show it a hundred times to my team."

THE TEAM TO BEAT, PART II: If the Sens are the beasts of the East, then the Flames might be the best in the West. They won eight straight before losing Friday.

"I love the way they play," Detroit goalie Manny Legace said about the Flames. "They can shut it down. They can crank it up. Don't get me wrong. We're exciting to watch. But if you play run-and-gun, the puck's either in at one end or the other. And if you're not burying your chances, you can find yourself in serious trouble. Me, I'd rather win games 1-0 or 2-1. That puts you in playoff mentality."

NOT THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE: Anyone notice how ordinary Devils goalie Martin Brodeur has looked? Coming into the weekend, he was 6-6 with a 3.45 GAA and an .880 save percentage. He had allowed three or more goals in nine of his first 12 stars.

"I feel good," Brodeur said. "Whatever it looks like, I feel good."

ICE CHIPS: Boston's Brian Leetch began skating two weeks and one day after he sprained his right MCL. He could return in another couple of weeks. ... The Hawks are starting a stretch of 10 road games out of 12. By Dec. 15, they will have played 20 of their first 30 on the road. ... Toronto is shopping forwards Jason Allison and Nik Antropov, but good luck. Allison, 30 and no longer the player he used to be, eats up $4.5-million of the salary cap. ... Heading into the weekend, the Islanders were unbeaten in 60 games (52-0-8) when leading after two periods. That's the league's longest streak, dating to Dec. 28, 2002.

Information from the Buffalo News, Detroit News and Delaware County Times was used in this report.