When Should You Pull the Goalie in Hockey?

Often time we’ve seen teams pull their goaltender in the last minute of a close hockey game to add a skater on the offensive. That may seem strange because pulling a goalie leaves an empty net, which means the opposing side has a good chance of scoring.

So, why do teams pull their goaltenders in hockey, how effective is this strategy, and so on? Read to find out the true reasons and much more!

Why does a team pull the goalie in hockey?

A hockey team will pull their goalie if they are losing in the last few minutes of the game in order to increase their chances of scoring a goal.

When the goalie comes off the ice, an offensive player will replace him on the ice. Of course, this strategy is a high-risk play that gives the team an offensive advantage.

Moreso, research shows that it worked 14.13% of the time in the 2018-19 NHL season.

When Should You Pull the Goalie in Hockey?

If a trailing club decides to pull its goalkeeper late in the third period, they should do so. Pulling the goaltender in the first or second period isn’t a good idea because you have at least one more period to score goals.

But pulling a goaltender late in the third period entails going all-in with another offensive player in the hopes of scoring.

When the offensive team has the puck and has made it up the ice with a minute or so left on the clock, a club should generally pull the goalkeeper.

With the puck, the team on the ice may concentrate solely on scoring, and the extra player might help boost the chances of scoring. Pulling the goalkeeper with a few minutes left in regulation can give a team ample time to conduct a scoring play.

What about Pulling Your Goalie During a Delayed Penalty?

During a delayed penalty, teams frequently withdraw their goalie. Coaches swap out their goaltender for a hockey player on the ice to try and score.

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Welcome to the home of sports

This is because the delayed penalty implies the play is over once the opposing side regains possession of the puck.  When this delayed penalty occurs, you don’t have much to lose by switching goalies.

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Is it necessary for the goalie to signal anything?

If a goalie wants to leave his or her net, they must first raise their arm before skating to the sideline. Raising their arm indicates that they are leaving their post and that another skater will take their place on the ice.

What Happens When the Goalie Is Taken Out of the Game?

By removing a goalie from the game, you now have an additional offensive player on the rink who can score. There will be an even six-on-six contest if there are no penalty minutes.

You now have seven attacking players vs five defensive players and one goalie after removing the goalie. This mismatch is akin to a power-play situation.

How Effective is Pulling the Goalie?

During the 2019–2020 season, teams with a one-goal deficit scored 14.5 percent of the time when the goalie was removed from the net. The previous year’s figure was 14.5 percent, and the year before that was 15%.

Hockey-Graphs defines a success rate as tying the game or sending the game to overtime with a goal.

How does this compare to the success rate of a Power Play?

In comparison, the success rate of a power play in hockey during the 2018-2019 season was 19.7%. The current situation is one of the reasons why a power play is more successful.

A standard power play lasts two minutes. However, removing the goalkeeper may just take one minute.

Is it possible to pull the goalie in the Stanley Cup?

Pulling your goalie during a regular-season NHL game is difficult enough, but imagine doing it during the Stanley Cup playoffs! The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings did precisely that in 2008.

With a minute left in the third period and facing elimination, the Penguins withdrew their goalie in an attempt to tie the game.

This event was made even more memorable by the fact that the Pittsburgh Penguins scored, proving that the method worked.

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What Happens If a Team Scores Against Your Empty Goal Post?

Without someone blocking the net, a goalie pull leaves the net wide open for the opposing team to score. Because there is no goaltender, if a team scores, they score an empty-net goal.

If a team can steal a pass and shoot the ball from a long distance or skate up to the net and casually fire it into the net, they can score an empty-net goal.

What Happens If You Score Against Your Own Net?

Whether you believe it or not, there are times when a team scores on an empty net. For instance, suppose the team is passing the puck around the ice and one of their players misses the pass, allowing the puck to glide into the empty net.

If this happens, the opposing team scores, and the last person on defense to make contact with the puck gets credit for the goal.

Can you Pull the Goalie During a Power Play?

Although this rarely happens, teams might give it a shot in the last 2 minutes of a game if they are trailing by a goal.

If the losing team gets a power play, then it is likely that they will pull their goalie for a 6-on-4. Why? Well, losing 2–1 is the same as losing 3–1. A loss is a loss. Hence, they may as well go for the tying goal on a 6-on-4 than not.

However, in the regular course of the game, you don’t pull the goalie during a power play. What happens when the team with the penalty gets the puck? They can shoot it at the empty goal, and YES, the goals will count.

Hence, teams only think of pulling the goalie in a situation of being down by one (or maybe two) goals very late in the game on a powerplay.

Can a Goalie Return after Being Pulled?

A goalie will occasionally leave the net and go to the bench in hockey. Is it possible for him to return to the game after being pulled? Yes. If a goalie is pulled, they are allowed to return to the game. This is not against the law.

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To give a recap, the following are some reasons goalies are withdrawn and later returned to the game:

Equipment issues:

When a skate blade needs to be replaced or a strap on a goalie’s pad breaks, it can take some time to resolve equipment concerns.

The goalie will be pulled and replaced by the backup until the problem is resolved, at which point they will return to the net.

Delayed penalties:

When the other side receives a penalty and you still have possession of the puck, the goaltender will skate to the bench while an additional player enters the game.

Play is blown dead and the goalie returns to his net after the opposing team that took the penalty regains possession of the puck.

Extra attacker:

If a game is close, such as a one-goal game, a coach may choose to remove their goalie from the net and replace him with an additional attacker in an attempt to tie the game.

When the opposition side scores on an empty net, the goaltender usually returns to his or her own net for the rest of the game.

EndNote: When Should You Pull the Goalie in Hockey?

In conclusion, withdrawing the goaltender in the final minute or so gives your team an extra man edge to score. The success percentage in the 2019-2020 NHL season was 14.5 percent, indicating that the move is feasible.

Not only did the maneuver work a few times, but hockey fans find it to be a thrilling play. Hockey is spectacular at the end of the game when one team is putting everything on the line.

Related Hockey Facts:

1. What is a Penalty Shot in Hockey, and When are They Used?

2. Why is Fighting Allowed in Hockey – the NHL Fighting Rules?

3. What is the Average Age of Retirement in the NHL?

4. What Percentage of the NHL Draft Picks Makes the NHL?