What is OTL in Ice Hockey?

When you look at the standings in the NHL or another hockey league to see how teams compare to one another, you are greeted with plenty of letters and acronyms that range from “W” for wins to “GF” for goals.

Another one that you will certainly see is OTL. In simple terms, OTL stands for overtime loss, and the number next to the stat is the number of times a team has lost in overtime during this season.

However, there is a lot to understand about OTL and overtime in general that you need to know to truly be a hockey genius. Read on to learn more about OTL and overtime in hockey as a whole.

What is OTL?

As I briefly touched on earlier OTL stands for overtime loss, and looks at the amount of games that a team has lost in overtime throughout a specific season. This is an important stat to track because a team receives one point for an overtime loss.

For reference, a win is worth two points (whether in regulation or overtime) and a loss in regulation is worth zero. As a result, the amount of overtime losses that a team has can be incredibly important when deciding the seeding for the playoffs.

So even if a team has fewer wins than another, they could still end up in a higher place if more of their losses were in overtime. However, it wasn’t always like this. In the past, games could end in ties, and at one point, teams who lost in overtime received no points.

The Rules of Overtime in the NHL

In addition to knowing about OTL in hockey, it is also crucial that fans familiarize themselves with overtime. If a game is tied at the end of three periods, the game will go overtime. This is a short period of extra time where the teams try to decide a winner.

In the NHL, this overtime period is five minutes of three on three hockey, where the first team to score a goal wins. It used to be five-on-five, but the league recently changed it to make the extra period more fast-paced and exciting.

As far as gameplay, an overtime period features generally the same rules, and teams will play it similar to how they play in regulation. The rules of overtime differ in the playoffs, however. First of all, the overtime period is twenty minutes instead of five, the same as a regulation period.

Also, if the game isn’t decided in the first overtime period, teams move onto a second overtime period instead of going to a shootout. The game will continue with overtime periods until a team has scored. This can lead to some incredibly long and exciting playoff games.

The Role of the Shootout

While many games that go to overtime end in that extra period (especially thanks to the recent changes in the NHL that made it 3 vs. 3 for a faster game), that isn’t always the case. If an overtime period hasn’t decided the game, it will go on to a shootout.

A shootout is when each team has several chances to take penalty shots at the opposing goaltender. There are three rounds, where different players attempt to score goals. Whichever team scores more of these three chances will win. Additional rounds can be added, too.

Each team will continue alternating shooters until one team is victorious. Like an OTL, a shootout loss still gives the losing team a single point, so simply getting to overtime or a shootout can be valuable to keep teams competitive in the standings.

Shootouts can be incredibly exciting and are a fan favorite during games for their tension and the amazing one-on-one battles. However, it is important to remember that there are no shootouts in the playoffs, as continuous periods of overtime are used to decide a winner.

Final Words

I hope that this guide has helped you learn more about OTL in hockey and overtime in general. If you feel that I left some crucial information out, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment and let me know!

About Kale
Being from Canada, hockey is essentially a way of life. I instantly fell in love with the game since I was being put on skates. From playing as a child (and the occasional street hockey game with friends today) to being a fan for over 20 years, I’m here to share my knowledge and passion for hockey. Email: kale@hockeyhow.com

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