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Do Teams Wait Too Long to Pull the Goalie?

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Old
08-03-2012, 10:48 PM
  #1
Brian Boyle
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Coaches often pull their goalie at ~1:00 mark of the third period when trailing by a goal. I always wondered if that specific time could be supported by evidence. But I never had the general goal scoring rates (6 on 4, 4 on 6, 5 on 5) to come up with a time that would optimize the chance of tying the game.

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Old
08-04-2012, 12:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by -31- View Post
Coaches often pull their goalie at ~1:00 mark of the third period when trailing by a goal. I always wondered if that specific time could be supported by evidence. But I never had the general goal scoring rates (6 on 4, 4 on 6, 5 on 5) to come up with a time that would optimize the chance of tying the game.
Interesting idea. There would be a lot of variables and assumptions involved to come up with a number mathematically. The various scoring rates and chances of each team receiving a penalty in each situation would be the main variables. However, teams are playing differently with a short time left in the game and one team ahead by one goal, so many of the general rates may not apply.

My instinct is that conventional wisdom may be wrong in this case. I think the goalie should probably be pulled much sooner. First, the defending team can take a penalty and the attacking team cannot fully utilize that power play. Second, the defending team is almost fully devoted to defending rather than attacking (and much of that is to keep possession as a form of defense).

There are many instances when the trailing team doesn't even get much of an opportunity with a minute left. Down one goal, I might pull the goalie when there is clear possession in the offensive zone with less than ~2.5-3 minutes left.

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08-04-2012, 01:16 PM
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Mystlyfe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by -31- View Post
Coaches often pull their goalie at ~1:00 mark of the third period when trailing by a goal. I always wondered if that specific time could be supported by evidence. But I never had the general goal scoring rates (6 on 4, 4 on 6, 5 on 5) to come up with a time that would optimize the chance of tying the game.
This paper may interest you. Not exactly what you're talking about, but related and it talks about several other papers on the issue (haven't been able to find public links to most of them). Most famously there was also a paper in 1986 that produced the formula:
t=-{ln[(-L1*LB+L2*LA)/LA(L1+L2-LA-LB)]}/(LA+LB)
where L1 and L2 are the ES scoring rates of the two teams, L1 is the scoring rate of team 1 with a pulled goalie, and L2 is the scoring rate of team 2 when team 1 has pulled its goalie.
This paper reviews and expands upon that 1986 paper, and finds that (depending on the scoring rates of the two teams), the ideal time to pull is between 1.57 and 2.82 min remaining in the game. Obviously, it does not factor in game situations in that analysis (or factors like exhaustion, line changes, etc.). I would be interested in something expanding upon that to look at line matching and scoring rates of particular lines and defensive combos.


Somewhat related, I'd be curious to see what's a better strategy when on a 5-on-4 powerplay and your opponent commits a delayed penalty. Immediately turn the puck over to start the 5-on-3 or try to prolong the 6-on-4 as long as possible (thus extending the total time with a 2 man advantage)?

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Old
09-26-2012, 07:53 PM
  #4
Hammer Time
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Do Teams Wait Too Long to Pull the Goalie?

Interesting paper here showing that teams would be slightly more likely to win games if they pulled their goalies earlier.

http://people.stat.sfu.ca/~tim/papers/goalie.pdf

A brief summary:
Most NHL teams pull their goalies with 1:00 left if trailing by one goal, and with 1:30 left trailing by two.

The study suggests that a better strategy would be for teams to pull their goalies with 3:00 left trailing by one goal (which gains teams an average of 0.05 points in the standings every game this strategy is used), and 6:00 left if trailing by two goals (gaining teams an average of 0.03 points per game).

Of course, if a team is on a power play it is advantageous to pull the goalie even earlier than that, and when shorthanded they should be more conservative.

It is estimated that NHL teams would on average gain one point over an 82-game season if they simply decided to pull their goalies at the 3:00 mark instead of 1:00, regardless of situation.


I suppose that there could be additional benefits in adjusting for game situations (e.g. pulling the goalie even earlier if there is an offensive-zone faceoff, or a weak defensive pairing is on the ice for the leading team, or the trailing team's first line is taking a shift, or if you have a below-average goalie in net etc.)

Of course if the strategy becomes common, opponents could adjust by, say, practicing taking shots at an empty net from 200 feet away.

Could this be a viable way for teams to pick up an extra win or two over the course of a season?

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09-26-2012, 08:26 PM
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Waiting until ~1:00 left to pull the goalie may be a combination of:

A) mostly unquestioned conventional wisdom (based on what, IDK)

B) sort of a CYA strategy

Regarding the "CYA strategy": If the coach pulls the goalie with 2-3 minutes left, his team doesn't score a goal, and the other team scores an ENG with more than a few seconds left, then he's open to criticism, especially if his team then goes on to score a goal itself. If the coach waits until ~1 minute left to pull the goalie, and his team doesn't score the tying goal, it's basically ignored.

A smart coach will pull his goalie much earlier, but not sure when this will happen. Has their been a coach that consistently defied the conventional wisdom pertaining to this?

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09-26-2012, 09:18 PM
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Pulling the Goalie

Teams pull their goalie for a sixth skater, down 1 goal with ~1:00 to go because it optimizes their offensive chances while minimizing the disruption to their lines.

The basic issue is who becomes the sixth skater under such circumstances?

Assume, for the sake of example, that the team going on the 6 on 5
plays their top line - LW/C/RW and two best offensive defensemen. That means the sixth skater has to come from the 2nd line. The 6 players can optimize for ~1:00 but then they tire and have to be replaced. This means that the second 6 on 5 will feature 2 - 2nd line forwards and 2 - 3rd line forwards plus the 3 and 4 best offensive defensemen. Hardly optimal.

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09-26-2012, 09:33 PM
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Iain Fyffe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
Teams pull their goalie for a sixth skater, down 1 goal with ~1:00 to go because it optimizes their offensive chances while minimizing the disruption to their lines.
Have any evidence for that? Can you demonstrate that line disruption has more of a negative effect than the greater man-advantage would have a positive effect? Or is this another right-handed centre argument?

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09-26-2012, 09:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain Fyffe View Post
Have any evidence for that? Can you demonstrate that line disruption has more of a negative effect than the greater man-advantage would have a positive effect? Or is this another right-handed centre argument?
Any pulled goalie data (and hence, the projected goal scoring rates) will almost entirely consist of the games best offensive players over a single shift playing at maximum intensity. Projecting the same scoring rates when moving from your best 6 players to you next 6 best players is dubious, as is ignoring the potential problem of trying to do a line change with no GK. To convert this to a analytic question, the pulled goalie scoring rate is not a constant (though it can be successfully modelled as one for the final 1-1:30 of the game), but a function of time. These problems are even more sever if you start talking about pulling the goalie with 3+ minutes left in the game.

Furthermore, many coaches pull the goalie earlier than 1 minute left, with many essentially pulling the goalie when they have completed there final line change and get the puck in the offensive zone.

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09-26-2012, 09:58 PM
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TheDevilMadeMe
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My first thought was "how on earth did they did a good sample of teams that pulled their goalies with 2 or 3 minutes left?".

Then I skimmed the study, and they seem to be assuming that the rate of scoring during the typical one minute 6 on 5 can be projected over 2-3 minutes of 6 on 5? Am I reading that right?

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09-26-2012, 10:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Egil View Post
Any pulled goalie data (and hence, the projected goal scoring rates) will almost entirely consist of the games best offensive players over a single shift playing at maximum intensity. Projecting the same scoring rates when moving from your best 6 players to you next 6 best players is dubious, as is ignoring the potential problem of trying to do a line change with no GK. To convert this to a analytic question, the pulled goalie scoring rate is not a constant (though it can be successfully modelled as one for the final 1-1:30 of the game), but a function of time.

Furthermore, many coaches pull the goalie earlier than 1 minute left, with many essentially pulling the goalie when they have completed there final line change and get the puck in the offensive zone.
If this is what they are doing, I agree with Canadiens1958 on this one. At least as long as teams typically employ 2 scoring and 2 checking lines and a variety of defensive defensemen, the offensive ability of a team's second 6 man unit will be vastly inferior to the offensive ability of the first 6 man unit

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09-26-2012, 10:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
If this is what they are doing, I agree with Canadiens1958 on this one. At least as long as teams typically employ 2 scoring and 2 checking lines and a variety of defensive defensemen, the offensive ability of a team's second 6 man unit will be vastly inferior to the offensive ability of the first 6 man unit
The second 6 man unit is probably also going to allow more goals against, because their ability to control the puck is lesser. With the goaltender pulled, puck possession is your defensive play.

I've thought for a while that teams could be more aggressive about pulling the goalie earlier, but the point about the difficulty of line changes is a good one.

We really need to find some situations where coaches actually pulled their goaltender early to study this topic properly.

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09-26-2012, 10:40 PM
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I admit that for late power play, in my opinion they should.

And when they trail by two they wait far too long also, 4 minute left, you have a power play and puck control, pull the goaltender.

The fact that you open yourself to the critics more is probably a big factor in this, more than actual study by the coaching staff (the nobody lost their job for buying an IBM factor).

Would like to see some strange nhl coach pull their goalie in 5-3 when the score is even. Would be very intertaining.

But yeah the ability to roll good player during all this time (and having your timeout available) is probably a big factor to consider.

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09-26-2012, 10:57 PM
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Top Four PP Forwards

Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain Fyffe View Post
Have any evidence for that? Can you demonstrate that line disruption has more of a negative effect than the greater man-advantage would have a positive effect? Or is this another right-handed centre argument?
2011-12 NHL season PPG team average 47. Atlantic Division top 4 forwards produced the following PPG totals per team:

NYR top 4 forwards scored 34 of the teams 44 PPG, Pitt - 41 of 57 PPG, Phil - 41 of 66 PPG, NJ - 33 of 46 PPG, NYI - 32 of 45 PPG. Throw in the PPGs scored by the top 2 offensive defensemen and there is very little man advantage production coming from the 5th - 8th forwards and 3rd and 4th offensive defensemen.

In a man advantage situation the first group of 6 skaters per team,is much more productive than the next six or final six. Basically 70-75% top 6 versus 25-30% combined bottom 12.

Last minute of play in the third period there is an advantage to concentrating your top 6 on a 6 on 5 since there is little disruption to the team's lines. Team does not score and it does not matter. Team scores and you can play out the period with the checking line or a relatively fresh first or second line.

Extend the situation to the last two or three minutes of the third period and somewhere during this stretch the checking forwards have to play strictly offensive roles.

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09-26-2012, 11:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
2011-12 NHL season PPG team average 47. Atlantic Division top 4 forwards produced the following PPG totals per team:

NYR top 4 forwards scored 34 of the teams 44 PPG, Pitt - 41 of 57 PPG, Phil - 41 of 66 PPG, NJ - 33 of 46 PPG, NYI - 32 of 45 PPG. Throw in the PPGs scored by the top 2 offensive defensemen and there is very little man advantage production coming from the 5th - 8th forwards and 3rd and 4th offensive defensemen.

In a man advantage situation the first group of 6 skaters per team,is much more productive than the next six or final six. Basically 70-75% top 6 versus 25-30% combined bottom 12.

Last minute of play in the third period there is an advantage to concentrating your top 6 on a 6 on 5 since there is little disruption to the team's lines. Team does not score and it does not matter. Team scores and you can play out the period with the checking line or a relatively fresh first or second line.

Extend the situation to the last two or three minutes of the third period and somewhere during this stretch the checking forwards have to play strictly offensive roles.
This sound logic.

But put your goalie at 3 minute and the full minute on your top 6 player pushing for 60 second for the goals, you can do it 2 times vs 1. (if you have your timeout)

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09-26-2012, 11:15 PM
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Rolling the Lines

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Originally Posted by MadLuke View Post
This sound logic.

But put your goalie at 3 minute and the full minute on your top 6 player pushing for 60 second for the goals, you can do it 2 times vs 1. (if you have your timeout)
Thank you.

Issue is rolling the four lines and three defensive pairings. 30 - 45 second shifts for the last three minutes will get a team to the top offensive forwards and top 2 offensive defensemen for the last minute shift stretched to ~ 60 seconds.

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09-26-2012, 11:21 PM
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PP

Quote:
Originally Posted by MadLuke View Post
I admit that for late power play, in my opinion they should.

And when they trail by two they wait far too long also, 4 minute left, you have a power play and puck control, pull the goaltender.

The fact that you open yourself to the critics more is probably a big factor in this, more than actual study by the coaching staff (the nobody lost their job for buying an IBM factor).

Would like to see some strange nhl coach pull their goalie in 5-3 when the score is even. Would be very intertaining.

But yeah the ability to roll good player during all this time (and having your timeout available) is probably a big factor to consider.
Entertaining but the defensive team has the "no icing" advantage when killing a penalty. 6 skaters against 5 skaters plus a goalie, the defensive team gets called for icing which gives the offensive team a big advantage - defensive zone faceoff advantage plus the defense cannot change skaters.

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09-27-2012, 10:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Egil View Post
Any pulled goalie data (and hence, the projected goal scoring rates) will almost entirely consist of the games best offensive players over a single shift playing at maximum intensity. Projecting the same scoring rates when moving from your best 6 players to you next 6 best players is dubious, as is ignoring the potential problem of trying to do a line change with no GK. To convert this to a analytic question, the pulled goalie scoring rate is not a constant (though it can be successfully modelled as one for the final 1-1:30 of the game), but a function of time. These problems are even more sever if you start talking about pulling the goalie with 3+ minutes left in the game.

Furthermore, many coaches pull the goalie earlier than 1 minute left, with many essentially pulling the goalie when they have completed there final line change and get the puck in the offensive zone.
With likely icings and a timeout on hand, you might be able to keep most of your best players out there for a long time. Additionally, you need to factor in that the defending team won't be able to keep their best defensive players out there the entire time (or even worse, they get caught out there too long and have no energy).

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09-27-2012, 10:44 AM
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Rather than the pull the goalie, I think teams would be better off leaving him in, playing with 4 up front and 1 D, who would pinch to make a play. You could do that for a good 3 minutes and at least have a chance to go the whole the 3 without allowing a goal.

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09-27-2012, 10:57 AM
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I'm really interested in seeing the results of a study if this topic keeps going and a study can be posted. I like to take out my goalie early personnaly.

I believe coaches are averse to risk and don't want to be scored on ''early'' after the goalie was removed. There always is someone to say ''you might have score at ES you still had X minutes''. To which I usually answer that we scored so few goals during the games that odds are we are not gonna score within the short time we have left.

As for you players being exhausted, when you have control of the puck (which you should with an extra man) you don't get nearly as tired as the guys chasing the puck around. Plus if you don't score the game is over anyways so what point it there to be rested.

Some while ago we were losing 5-2 and I pulled my goalie with about 7 minutes left. We ended up losing 6-4. But it made for an intersesting end of game though

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09-27-2012, 11:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coldsteelonice84 View Post
Rather than the pull the goalie, I think teams would be better off leaving him in, playing with 4 up front and 1 D, who would pinch to make a play. You could do that for a good 3 minutes and at least have a chance to go the whole the 3 without allowing a goal.
I agree.

I think they pull the goalies too early if anything.

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09-27-2012, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Feed Me A Stray Cat View Post
With likely icings and a timeout on hand, you might be able to keep most of your best players out there for a long time. Additionally, you need to factor in that the defending team won't be able to keep their best defensive players out there the entire time (or even worse, they get caught out there too long and have no energy).
Valid point, as some have suggested it is mostly the top players that score on the man advantage. But extend that time period and it will not be the the best defensive players on the ice the entire time for the opposing team. Plenty of variables involved and not enough evidence on hand.

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09-27-2012, 12:39 PM
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Icing Faceoff

Sense that the strategy will move towards faceoffs in the defensive zone.

Defensive team called for icing cannot make substitutions for the on ice players. Offensive team can creating match-up and situational advantages for the potential 6 on 5 under such conditions, so time becomes less of a factor.

Another consideration with the advent of the "loser point" is that a team down a goal wants the point for the tie. So they want to limit the time for the opposition to re-take the lead in regulation.

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09-27-2012, 12:55 PM
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Valid point, as some have suggested it is mostly the top players that score on the man advantage. But extend that time period and it will not be the the best defensive players on the ice the entire time for the opposing team. Plenty of variables involved and not enough evidence on hand.
The dropoff in offensive talent (and puck control as overpass points out) is going to be much larger than the dropoff in defensive talent and the ability to shoot at an empty goal.

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09-27-2012, 01:05 PM
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The dropoff in offensive talent (and puck control as overpass points out) is going to be much larger than the dropoff in defensive talent and the ability to shoot at an empty goal.
Perhaps. But I sincerely doubt the attacking team will put out 3rd and 4th liners. It's not as if they'll be rolling lines.

1st and 2nd line players will dominate the ice for the attacking team.

Also consider that the fatigue effect on the defending team will probably be much greater than on the attacking team.

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09-27-2012, 01:08 PM
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As some have pointed out, with a timeout and possibly icings, there's a good chance to have your top players out there for most of the last 2-3 minutes. The optimal time to pull the goalie probably depends on a number of factors, such as composition of both teams, but I think it's much earlier than 1 minute left.

Too often, the trailing team doesn't even get much of an opportunity in the last minute. If the team is trailing with under 3 minutes and establishes possession in the opponent's zone (with some of its better offensive players), I wouldn't hesitate to pull the goalie. It's very, very likely you will have to pull the goalie at some point... why not when you have clear possession and any penalty incurred as a result of the extra skater will result in a power play that can be fully utilized.

Otherwise, all the opponent needs to do in the final minute is gain possession... or make a couple of clears... or even take a last minute penalty, and the game is basically over.

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