I know it has been done before, changing your goalie for the overtime shootout. But, why do we not see it more often? Are the coach’s afraid to take the risk and have the blame fall on him if his team loses? Or maybe it’s because the goalie who sat the bench the entire game is not loose enough and ready to play?
All of those questions are without a doubt the main reasons. But, it may be time for teams starting pucking trying this if they have a proven losing record when it comes to shootouts.
Take the Philadelphia Flyers for example. They played host to the New York Rangers today at 12:30pm on NBC. Real intense game, and to make a long story short it ended up going into a shootout. It is a proven fact the Flyers rookie goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky is not solid in net when it comes to any type of shootout or breakaway. In fact he probably could not stop a beach ball but that’s a little over exaggerating.
Now this game was very important to both teams and each team needed the extra point. So why would coach Laviolette leave Bobrovsky in net for the shootout knowing he is not strong in that department? Well most of you probably already know why with the questions I asked in the beginning of this article.
Let’s break it down on what I think should take place.
So let’s take today’s game and say this, overtime has just ended and they have about 2 minutes to get ready for the shootout. At the start of the overtime I think the coach should tell his other goalie (if he’s the better shootout goalie) in this case Brian Boucher of the Flyers to start warming up. Go to the locker room and start stretching and get mentally prepared for a possible shootout. Boucher has proven to be a solid shootout goalie for the Flyers especially against the Rangers.
Five minutes pass and it’s time for the shootout. Pull “Bob” and send in Boucher. Think about it this way, what is the worst possible outcome here? They lose? They are most likely going to lose anyways so why not take the risk.
Now this concept could probably only apply to certain teams in a very rare case. Again, today’s Rangers Flyers game was the rare case. The only other team I can think of it applying for would maybe be for the Vancouver Canucks. Roberto Luongo is not as strong as Cory Schneider when it comes to shootouts. But they have 113 points as of now and number one overall in the NHL, so this would not apply to the Nucks, they can afford to lose the extra point.
The point of this article is to point out some NHL teams might want to start planning some type of strategy for possible shootout wins. If shootouts are going to remain in the NHL (which they are, and I personally wish they didn’t, but what the puck can I do about it) some teams might want to start finding ways to win shootouts.
Not many NHL teams these days build around goaltending and obviously goalies are the ones who win the shootouts for their teams. For example last year’s Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley cup with rookie Antti Niemi. Flyers last season went through 7+ different goalies throughout the season and made it to the Stanley Cup Finals.
When coming down the stretch with 5 games remaining in the season and EVERY PUCKING point matters, some type of shootout strategy could be the deciding factor if playoffs are in the cards for a certain team or not. Why not take advantage of it?
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