One more hockey question, I swear: Is pulling the goaltender REALLY WORTH IT?

The following thread got me thinking:

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?postid=1012322#post1012322

I know the philosophy of hockey teams pulling their goaltender at the end of a hockey team with seconds left and behind one goal: you get an extra attacker at the other end of the ice, hopefully increasing the chances of a score.

But in all the games I have seen, I have never, EVER seen this work! Yeah, I know I’m going to get about 12 posts saying “Yeah, well I saw a playoff game in 1993 when the Quebec Nordiques beat the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 in OT after pulling their goalie at the end of the third period . . .”.

I DON’T CARE. There are exceptions to every rule.

I’ve seen enough games to know that the chances of the defending team loping a cheesy empty netter is a lot higher than your 6th man scoring. So, my question is: WHY DO TEAMS STILL DO THIS? The odds of success have to be so low.

How about this instead? Put a third string goaltender on the bench, but without goalie pads. Pull your goaltender, then have this guy act as a 6th attacker, but one who stays close to the net. He can stay back as a point to quickly pass stray pucks back to the other five guys, but skate back quickly enough to try and at least defend the net.

Any thoughts?

Nope. It was Quebec vs Toronto. In 1992. Hoser. :wink:

A loss is a loss. It doesn’t matter whether you lose by one goal or twenty as far as W/T/L standings go. A small increase in attacking power justifies taking a big defensive risk.

Any of the non-goalkeeping players could just play a more defnsive position. Having played roller hockey, I’ll bet that getting hit by a slapshot when you aren’t wearing all of the goalie’s protective gear hurts like crazy. Besides, the goalkeeper really needs his pads to stop shots.

You have a good point though. Once the other team score an open net goal and put themselves up by two goals, the game is out of reach. Perhaps teams would be better off keeping the goalie in, because then they’d have more time on average to tie. Whereas having 6 attackers decreases their average time to attack while still only losing by a goal, because it’s more likely that the other team will score again.

When the team that is losing pulls its goalie the team that has the lead usually takes a more defensive role, like they’re on the penalty kill. The winning team doesn’t want to get caught out of position so they try to limit the attacking team to low-percentage, bad angle shots. The defensive team can also try to shoot the puck from their own end, but that could result in an icing call, but pulling the goalie is definately worth the risk. It’s most likely that you’re going to lose anyway, why not go for an all out attack and try to salvage a point?

Yes, pulling the goalie does work. I say a statistical analysis of this once. Someone crunched all the numbers, and determined the exact second at which it increases the likelihood of victory. I’m sure someone who cares more about hockey than I do will be able to provide the correct reference. While I don’t remember the numbers, the chance of victory was surprisingly high if the goalie was pulled at the right moment. 17% seems to be popping into my head, but that sounds too high. Maybe 7%?

as a roller hockey goalie for over 10 years, yes, it is worth it. as its been said, dosent matter how much you loose by, so 1 or 2 goals dosent matter. I’ve seen my team win a few times when I came dashing to the bench. Its not a good position to be in, but it gives the opposing goalie a chance at getting an empty netter ala hextall…

Football Analogy:

2 seconds left on the clock … your team is down by 5 points and on the 50 yard line … do you throw a “Hail Mary” pass into the endzone or use a running play for 5 extra yards? No, don’t throw a Hail Mary pass! the other team could catch it and run for a touchdown so they win by 11 instead of 5! Duh, of course you’d take the risk … it’s win or lose, not lose or lose-by-a-closer-score.

You answered your own question. Most of the time, the losing team still loses. But some times, instead of just sitting there and losing, they manage to win.

It’s like football and the on side kick. It fails more often than it works [or they would do it every time]. But if you’re losing, you will try it so you at least have a slim chance of winning.

But with all the luck involved in the way the puck bounces, isn’t the percentage of success with keeping your goalie in just the same or just a little lower? And with almost 10 times the less risk of an empty netter goal?

By the way, I’m not talking about a faceoff on the opposing teams ice with 4 seconds left, either. Yeah, OK, I’d definitely pull the goalie then, I’m talking about with over 20-30 seconds left.

By the way, Mario scored an empty netter against Ottawa last night, reinforcing my theiory!

True, but Ottawa was not really hurt by that goal. It was the ones before it that they should have kept out. The extra attacker is just a shift in strategy, like soccer teams moving up normally defensive players at the end of the game when they need a goal. There isn’t really a need for any defensive consideration. We’re only talking about a window of around a minute here in which the trailing team needs to score. It either happens or it doesn’t. Pointing out that a lot more empty net goals are scored than game-tying goals is missing the point. A more fair assessment is to look at the collective impact those goals have. If you pull your goalie 20 times and manage to tie one game while allowing 19 empty netters, you still come out ahead. The only way it can backfire is if, after allowing an empty netter, you somehow score and the EN goal becomes the difference.

And it happens to work more often then the OP seemed to think. Not every five years or so, but I would guess a couple of dozen times a year. In fact the most recent Kings game I went to against the Thrashers a couple of weeks ago, the Kings managed to tie the game by pulling their goalie.

Hey cool. My defence partner was at that game. I seem to recall that offence wasn’t really a problem that night.

One time I saw the Canucks pull their goalie, and they got the tying goal with about 10 seconds left, then gave up the game-winning goal on the next shift. Brad Park scored that goal, and he was laughing as he skated away.

Anyway, back on topic: In baseball, you bring your outfield in when there are less than two out in the bottom of the ninth and the winning run is on third. By doing that, you take the risk that a routine fly ball will become an extra base hit, but you don’t care because the effect on the game is the same, i.e., you lose either way. Pulling the goalie is the same kind of thing.