VANCOUVER - Believing that too many games are decided in shootouts, NHL general managers have recommended that at least part of overtimes feature three-on-three play, a format that would have to be approved by the players association.
The Flyers seem to favor the new format, which would create wide-open play and reduce the number of shootouts. The Flyers are 3-9 in shootouts this season and an NHL-worst 30-60 since the rule was adopted in 2005-06.
"Considering our shootout record, it might help," Flyers coach Craig Berube said Tuesday after the team's morning skate.
Currently, the NHL plays four-on-four during five-minute overtime periods.
This season, the AHL adopted a new seven-minute overtime format, using four-on-four and then going to three-on-three at the first stoppage after three minutes.
At the general managers meeting Tuesday in Florida, Detroit GM Ken Holland told reporters the group recommended that the NHL either adopt the AHL format "or just do five minutes of three-on-three. We're going to take it to the competition committee, basically see what the players feel about it."
In the AHL, the change has caused a marked increase in games ending before going to a shootout. Entering Monday, 76.3 percent of AHL games that went beyond regulation ended in overtime. A year ago, 35.3 percent of games ended in OT.
Only 5.7 percent of AHL games are being decided in shootouts this season, down from 15.6 percent in 2013-14.
"I think it would be exciting for sure to get the three-on-three," Berube said. "You've got some real skilled guys out there on open ice. That could make for some fun hockey."
Flyers center Nick Cousins, who has firsthand experience, agreed.
Cousins made his NHL debut Tuesday night, and his parents, brother, and sister traveled from Toronto to be at the game. He experienced three-on-three overtimes with the AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms this season.
The format, he said, causes lots of odd-man rushes, "and if you don't score, it's coming right back at you. I think that's what they're looking for, and it's been fun to play in. . . . It's awesome. I like it a lot."
"It's going to be more goals, more offense," winger Jake Voracek said.
Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo said it was "an experiment worth looking at," but he pointed out there would be some negatives to the new overtime format.
"When you're playing such a condensed schedule and relying on your top players night after night and their minutes continue to go up with three-on-threes, obviously you start affecting things," he said. "The one thing you want to stay away from, for me, is extending the game longer that it needs to be. The longer you make the game, the harder it's going to be on players."
Goalie Steve Mason said the three-on-three format would reward the winner for team play, not individual play. "That's how games should generally be decided," he said. "It's a step in the right direction."
Veteran forward Vinny Lecavalier said he was in favor of shootouts when they were introduced, but he would rather see games finish with "something of a play. It's a good idea. They have to figure out the format. That will be important."
Colaiacovo said there's another change he would like to see the NHL implement: awarding three points instead of two for a regulation win, causing teams to put more effort toward winning before the overtime.