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Pulling the Goalie


Guest icehole
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Not what you do to try to get pregnant but trying to get an extra attacker to try to tie a game in the last minute or two.

Since I can remember, the "smart" move to do when you're down a goal or two with a minute or two to play, was to pull the goalie in favor of an extra player to help score a goal. I just accepted that all coaches and experts knew what they were doing and never thought twice about it. After thinking hard about it, I don't believe any coach in his right mind should remove his last line of defense to give him a minimal advantage on offense.

Let's look at the pros and cons.

Pros:

1. You have one more skater than the other team.

2. There is no 2...that's it.

Cons:

1. You leave the goal wide open for an easy shot from any angle.

2. You add more congestion and confusion to the offensive zone making it more difficult to make a play.

3. Your defense still has to be "defensive" to prevent the opposing team from getting a good chance to shoot.

4. The opposing team doesn't have to think too hard about scoring after they hit the redline...they can just fire at the net.

Really, how often do you score a goal when you pull the goalie? How many times are you scored on when you pull the goalie? How many goals are scored during 5 on 5 gameplay compared to how many goals are scored by a team having 6 skaters to 5 skaters? I'd be willing to bet the amount of goals scored against is 10 times (or more) more than the goals scored for during a 6 on 5. I'd also bet that more goals are scored on 5 on 5 than are scored 6 on 5. So why pull the goalie?!?!?!

This is my proposal. Keep the goalie in net. Send out 4 forwards and one offensive, PP QB type defenseman to run the point. Put one big, strong forward in front of the goalie, place another big, strong forward to the side of the goalie, put one skill forward at each circle and your defenseman at the point.

The only focus should be offense offense offense. The only defense you play is strictly to get the puck back to go on offense. The defensman pinches every chance he gets and the forwards do not rotate back unless to chase down a player going the other way. If a player does break down the ice, he's still forced to take it all the way and make a good move to score because YOU HAVE A GOALIE IN THE NET! If the opposing team scores, at least you did everything you could.

On a healthy flyers team, I would put simmonds in front of the goalie, hartnell to the side of the goalie, briere and giroux at the top of the circles, and timonen at the point.

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@icehole

I have seen it happen more than one would think. The idea of pulling the goalie is to overload the defense with offensive players. With crisp passing and puck movement, the thought is hoping to have one of the defensive players miss their assigment and thereby giving a high percentage shot for the team attacking with 6 players. Also, many teams are hoping for a rebound given up the goalie and hoping for a goal via rebound due to the overload of offensive players vs defensive players. How many times have we seen the Flyers unable to clear the puck due to the other teams offensive pressure.

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@icehole

i agree, pulling the goalie is a loser's bet most of the time. i mean, if you are down by two with 90 seconds left, and there's really no way you are clawing all the way back under normal manpower circumstances, then sure, pull him. if you're down by one...you really are just giving the other team an easy chance to put the game out of reach.

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@icehole

the thought is hoping to have one of the defensive players miss their assigment and thereby giving a high percentage shot for the team attacking with 6 players.

thing is, with 5 defenders all taking a purely defensive stance, assignments aren't as important as usual. you can just zone it out with 5 guys. NHL ice is small enough, having 11 skaters out there makes for a really clogged offensive zone, and no one is going to be full on open. rebounds, deflections, chances on really broken plays, those happen more often...but crisp passing is kind of a rarity under 6-5 circumstances. there's just no room.

pulling the goalie while on a late powerplay or after coincidental minors, that's different. 6-4, 5-4, there's space to make good use of the extra guy. even and full strength, though, i don't think so.

bottom line: more empty net goals are scored than game tieing goals with the goalie pulled. means it bites you in the ass more often than it helps.

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@icehole

I have seen it happen more than one would think. The idea of pulling the goalie is to overload the defense with offensive players. With crisp passing and puck movement, the thought is hoping to have one of the defensive players miss their assigment and thereby giving a high percentage shot for the team attacking with 6 players. Also, many teams are hoping for a rebound given up the goalie and hoping for a goal via rebound due to the overload of offensive players vs defensive players. How many times have we seen the Flyers unable to clear the puck due to the other teams offensive pressure.

If you are strictly in attack mode you will most likely still overload the defense. It's easier to make plays with 10 guys out there rather than 11. I have simmonds for the screen or rebound and hartnell for the side rebound.

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@icehole I would love to see the actual stats on how effective pulling goalie actually is....how often it really works. I would suspect it's around 3-4% of the time, if that. It's a pure act of desperation, but rarely translates into points. I suspect a different approach, ie pre-planned attacks which can be practised would be a lot more successful, and leave you a lot less vulnerable.

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If you are down a goal with a minute or so to go, giving up another goal does not change the outcome of the game. A loss is a loss. However, if YOU score the goal, you've tied the game and most likely earned a point at least, maybe two. The reward greatly outweighs the risk. Like playing the lottery and betting a meaningless dollar on the chance you win a million. So now it comes down to odds. Betting that dollar is a sucker's bet because the odds are, argument's sake, 10 million to one, not a fair payout.

So we must consider the odds of scoring while even up in that last minute or so vs. the odds of scoring with the extra attacker as opposed to be scored against with the extra attacker. Statsman! Where are you?

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If only one extra guy means so little, why are so many power play goals scored? Why are special teams so important? I disagree with the notion that it doesn't matter. One extra stick in front of the net when a rebound hops out can make a huge difference. No matter what the defense does you have an open man. That's what you're after.

On a personal note I've pulled my goalie son to try and tie the game and been successful. Every time? No. But I don't recall a time when we pulled him and didn't at least generate more pressure on the attack.

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If you are down a goal with a minute or so to go, giving up another goal does not change the outcome of the game. A loss is a loss. However, if YOU score the goal, you've tied the game and most likely earned a point at least, maybe two. The reward greatly outweighs the risk. Like playing the lottery and betting a meaningless dollar on the chance you win a million. So now it comes down to odds. Betting that dollar is a sucker's bet because the odds are, argument's sake, 10 million to one, not a fair payout.

So we must consider the odds of scoring while even up in that last minute or so vs. the odds of scoring with the extra attacker as opposed to be scored against with the extra attacker. Statsman! Where are you?

If you are down one goal with a minute or two left, giving up another goal completely changes things. I want a chance to tie it, up to the last second of the game. Of course you're going to go all out to win but it's not worth the risk if you're most likely going to give up that goal that puts you two down and gives you no chance.

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If only one extra guy means so little, why are so many power play goals scored? Why are special teams so important? I disagree with the notion that it doesn't matter. One extra stick in front of the net when a rebound hops out can make a huge difference. No matter what the defense does you have an open man. That's what you're after.

On a personal note I've pulled my goalie son to try and tie the game and been successful. Every time? No. But I don't recall a time when we pulled him and didn't at least generate more pressure on the attack.

Powerplay goals are scored because it is most likely a 5 on 4 or 5 on 3 with a goalie in net. If there wasn't a goalie in net, you wouldn't see as many powerplay goals because the defenseman can't be as aggressive and the amount of shorthanded goals with outnumnber powerplay goals by a great margain.

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Last night was a perfect example of why I would want a goalie in net at the end of the game. Claude Giroux didn't care about anything but clearing the zone. He pointed himself somewhere toward the net and pushed it down the ice. He missed by a couple inches but if that easy, effortless shot goes in, Tampa wouldn't have those great chances to tie it at the end.

I believe if they had five guys completely selling out offensively they could have outworked the Flyers and had the same or better chances without the fear of having one go in their empty net.

Good arguements on both sides.

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Powerplay goals are scored because it is most likely a 5 on 4 or 5 on 3 with a goalie in net. If there wasn't a goalie in net, you wouldn't see as many powerplay goals because the defenseman can't be as aggressive and the amount of shorthanded goals with outnumnber powerplay goals by a great margain.

My point was simply that the extra man DOES matter. 6 in 5 is less space but still an open man. But your next post states it best... That IF Giroyx had scored Tampa wouldn't have had all those great scoring chances at the end. I suggest that the reason they had those chances was the extra pressure created by the extra man. Sometimes you generate enough extra pressure the defense is struggling just to clear the zone let alone take a shot at the open net.

Edited by Polaris922
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if ever there was an argument to be made "case by case" it is here.

it depends on what type of topline players are on a team, are they tough grinder types , shifty and slick, do they need open ice ? and what about your opponents are their D-men under sized or brutes ?

I was surprised G didn't try to skate that puck out of the zone at the end of the tampa game, seemed like he was gassed , he was double shifted a **** pile in the 3rd but it looked like he could have skated the puck out , maybe i missed a guy having a good angle on him. anyway the tampa skill players seem to be a good set to work in the tight quarters of 11 men in the offensive zone.

Edited by mojo1917
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If you are down one goal with a minute or two left, giving up another goal completely changes things.

No, it doesn't. If that status quo remains over the final minute or two... and it usually does in Hockey, 99% of the time... the team down a goal loses the game. If the other team scores, empty net or whatever, the scenario remains exactly yhe same, your team lost the game. Goal differential is meaningless, with respect to that particular game.

The goalie is pulled when the down team has puck possession or a face off deep in the other team's end. The odds of losing when NOT doing this are great. The odds of scoring and tying the score are also not great, but marginally better and so coaches choose that margin. When it works, it's awesome.

Edited by TedZep
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@icehole

According to this study in 2007 :

• The number of goals scored at even strength is of the same magnitude

for every minute in the game except the last. This difference is plausibly

explained by the strategy of a team losing by one goal to replace their

goalie with an extra skater in a desperate attempt to tie the game. This

results in more goals scored for both sides; equalizers for one team, empty

net goals for the other.

2.1 Pulling The Goaltender

If one team is trailing in the game, the coach may choose to replace the goaltender with an extra attacking player. The risk in this case would be that the opposing team would score a goal on an empty net and extend their lead, so the timing of the exchange is usually limited to the last minute or two of regulation time, when the team’s likelihood of scoring a tying goal under ordinary circumstances is already quite small.

During this period, the likelihood of one team scoring is markedly increased, since the trailing team has one extra offensive player and their net is unguarded. The situation is quite different from an ordinary game situation, and so is taken into account separately: when a goaltender is pulled, an indication is made that the next interval is being played with an empty net.

In the data being considered, a goaltender was pulled in 64% of games played. In 34% of those games a goal was scored with one net empty, and of those goals 30% were scored by the team that pulled their goaltender.

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In the data being considered, a goaltender was pulled in 64% of games played. In 34% of those games a goal was scored with one net empty, and of those goals 30% were scored by the team that pulled their goaltender.

That's awesome info, really nice find. So if you pull your goaltender, there is a 10.2% chance that you will score and (assumedly) earn a point and send the game into OT, and a 23.8% chance the other team will ice the game, which is no worse than having lost by a single goal margin.

82 games, 64% of which a goalie is pulled (half the time it's your team -completely arbitrary estimate there) and you will score 30% of the time, which leads to an extra 2.68 ties per season, if my math is anywhere close to correct. That's almost an extra 3 points a season at least, with an equal probability of gaining the win in OT, and a much lesser chance of getting the win in the shootout, if we are talking about the Flyers.

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The most significant advantages you gain in my opinion:

-Higher chance of gaining possesion of loose pucks.

-Puck battles along the boards down low are going to be helped out with the extra man spotting either along the boards, refusing an attempted clear. Or sending that extra man in the slot to force defenseman away from puck battles down low.

-Fatigue factor. When short handed you have to work twice as hard as the other team, stressing on positioning.

-Opponents 'grinders' forced to work in last minutes instead of scoring leaders. (This is why Jonathan Toews is so valuable. He can grind it out).

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