The Blues, um, blew a slew of open net chances Tuesday night, but overcame all the near misses to Steen-roll the Kings 2-1 in overtime and take a 1-0 series lead against a team that treated them like a particularly hairy dust bunny last year.
And although the game didn’t make it to a second overtime, if it had there would not have been a shootout. This is the playoffs after all, and that kind of nonsense doesn’t belong here.
Which is too bad. Following a horrendous 4-9 shootout record in 2011-2012, the Blues were 5-1 in shootouts this season. The Blues might not have made the playoffs at all without their stellar record in shootouts.
Now let me add a disclaimer: Unlike some hockey purists, we love shootouts. Or at least, I love shootouts. If you sat through five periods of scoreless hockey during the Blues’ 1-0 double overtime loss in game seven of the 1996 Western Conference Semifinals, you should love shootouts.
Shootouts are great. They allow the game to be settled by pure skill, rather than, say, a referee inexplicably ignoring one penalty and calling another.
Despite their appeal, shootouts admittedly are a strange way to decide a winner. They’re nothing like the actual sport itself, just a tiny little component of it. It’s like, after 80 minutes of playing a sport, we’ll just decide the winner based on one arbitrary facet of that sport.
Which got us thinking, what if other sports settled ties the way the NHL did? The result is JSF’s Top 7: NHL Overtime Shootout Equivalents. These are in no particular order, but have been organized by sport.
7. Home Run Derby
This one is a no-brainer, which is why I thought of it – because it took absolutely no brains. How much more ridiculous is this than adding a second wild card? Answer: Not much more ridiculous. Perhaps Mark McGwire said it best: “Do you want to know the terrifying truth, or do you want to see me sock a few dingers!”
Not to mention, if this had been in place in 1998, the Cardinals would be 12-time world champs.
6. Between Innings Warm-Up
Not quite the crowd-pleaser, but why not take something the typically intertwined with lollygagging and horsing around and simply turn up the heat? Easy grounders tossed softly by the first baseman are now each an intense, pressure-packed moment. Miss just one and go home a loser. Screw up the “around the horn” at the end? Better luck next time.
5. One-On-One Tackling Drills
One running back, one linebacker, and two pylons equals six parts excitement. Both men start on the ground lying on their backs facing the opposite way. The whistle blows, and it’s tackle or be tackled, or something like that.
Ball carrying, head smashing, cleats: All the components of America’s pastime are there, just in a very condensed form, like Ovaltine.
4. NFL Combine Olympics
What the hell, they show like a month of this crap on NFL Network, and somebody apparently watches it. Basically, the teams’ two best athletes compete in the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, shuttle run, and something known as the three cone drill. The athlete that wins the most events wins the game, while the loser’s fraternity relinquishes control of the Greek Council.
3. Coming Out Contest
This one is pretty straightforward. The team with the most players not already revealed to be homosexual that openly come out of the closet during the overtime period wins. For one thing, it’s topical. But it’s also got real staying power. Learning the sexual orientation of athletes will certainly never get old. Never. Never ever. Just like no one will ever get tired of hearing how Jared lost 245 pounds by eating at Subway and traversing a flight of stairs. And this would be a way to incentivize the three major American professional sports to get on board with this emerging trend. Not to mention the potential for attracting new fans with loads of discretionary income.
Yes, it’s just like the game you played as a kid, minus the oil-slicked driveway and your Mom yelling at you to come in and eat supper. Competitors are encouraged to get as creative as they like. Granny-style free throws and behind the backboard shots replace boring old jump shots. I’m envisioning something like this.
1. Slam Dunk Contest (With Judges)
From 1987-1988, nothing quite captured the public’s attention like the NBA’s slam dunk contest during All-Star weekend. Why not bring this back from the dead and breathe new life into it by using it to decide games? Of course, just like it’s always been, the judging is completely arbitrary, often biased, and includes celebrity guests. Which would only add to the excitement and publicity it would generate. Can you imagine losing game seven of the Western Conference Finals on degree of difficulty points?
Honorable Mention: Free Throw Contest
Sure, this idea has been thrown around before. But our version has a twist: Each team must use the worst free throw percentage shooter on its roster. This could be really quick, or it could go on forever if neither guy is able to make a free throw with the game on the line. Think Shaq vs. Dwight Howard. Alternatively, the away team’s shooter could compete against a randomly selected video of one of the home team’s players that was previously recorded.