This year’s Stanley Cup playoffs are worth losing sleep over.
The 18 overtime games broke the first-round record set in 2013. This year’s overtime rate of 43% (18 of 42) is higher than the 2013 rate of 36.1% (17 of 47). Last year, the first round featured only seven overtime games.
“To me, this is much the same,” Nashville Predators general manager David Poile told USA TODAY Sports. “The parity of the regular season has just carried over into the playoffs.”
Poile said the only aspect of the overtime run that surprises him is that there was only one in the Predators’ sweep over the Chicago Blackhawks, the Western Conference’s top seed.
“When you look at the point differences around the league, why wouldn’t you believe that any team can beat any other team?” Poile said. “The point totals are close.”
Only three wins separated the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues in the regular season and they had two games decided in overtime among their five games. (St. Louis won the series 4-1.) One win separated the Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks in the regular season and they had two overtime games in six games. (Edmonton won the series 4-2.)
The Boston Bruins and Ottawa both owned 44 wins this season and they played four overtime games. (Ottawa won the series 4-2.)
One point separated the Montreal Canadiens (103 points) and New York Rangers (102 points) in the regular season and they played two overtime games. (New York won the series 4-2).
Oddly, the biggest regular-season points gap was between the Washington Capitals (118) and the Toronto Maple Leafs (95) and they played five overtime games in their six-game series. Washington plays Pittsburgh after beating the Maple Leafs in their series 4-2.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said he has three televisions set up next to each other to allow him the opportunity to monitor multiple games simultaneously.
This year, two of the 18 overtime games have needed a second OT period to settle the score.
“Not only do I stay up, I’m up after I fly back from somewhere else,” Bettman said at a meeting with members of the Associated Press Sports Editors on Friday at the NHL offices.
Does he stay up because the games are compelling or because he is making sure the games are being handled properly?
“Little bit of both, but more the first,” Bettman said. “It’s compelling. It’s exciting. It’s worth not sleeping over. I also want to make sure everything is OK. But even if I fell asleep – which I don’t – if something wasn’t OK I would get a phone call within 20 seconds from hockey operations.”
The NHL’s hockey operations department monitors every game in real time.