Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hershey Bears pull my all-time hockey pet peeve

In last night's Game 5 of the Calder Cup Finals, the Hershey Bears lost 3-2 to the Manitoba Moose. The Bears still hold a 3-2 series lead, but they'll have to win one of two in Winnipeg if they are going to hoist their 10th Calder Cup.

The thing about this game that really irks me is the way the score got to 3-2.

The Moose led 2-1 late in the game, and the Bears pulled goalie Michal Neuvirth with about a minute and a half left to play. Manitoba scored almost immediately, making it 3-1 with 1:21 left. Game over. That's it. You've just shortened the game by 81 seconds.

Bears defenseman John Carlson added a goal with 31 seconds left to make it 3-2, but it was meaningless at that point.

This situation is the perfect example of why I am so against pulling the goalie -- or at least pulling the goalie until it's truly a last ditch effort.

I'm not saying Carlson's goal ties it if they don't pull Neuvirth, because there's no telling how the events really would have unfolded if the Moose don't score that 3rd goal. In all likelihood, it would have just ended 2-1 instead of 3-2. But you give yourself a much better chance of tying the score if you don't allow the game to basically be cut 81 seconds short.

Down one goal late in the game, time was the Bears' most precious resource, and they gave a bunch of it away.

I get that pulling the goalie gives you the best chance to score a goal, but it also gives the other team a FAR better chance to score and all but end the game. Given the odds that the other team pots one in your yawning net, pulling the goalie should really be a last resort. With 1:30 left in a one-goal game, is it really last resort time yet? There's plenty of time to generate a few good chances 5-on-5 in that span.

I wish some NHL coach would just say, "You know what? I'm never going to pull the goalie for the extra attacker." Just to see how his team's comebacks in the final 90 seconds stack up against other teams.

I'd be willing to bet he'd fare better than teams that pull the goalie all the time, because for every game a team ties with their goalie pulled, there are probably at least five where they get scored on with 30+ seconds left on the clock, killing any comeback hopes.

The cons just outweigh the pros when it comes to pulling the goalie when down one goal.

Now why won't anyone believe me?


Abram said...

I guess this explains why you weren't interested when I brought up pulling the goalie in our game Sunday morning when we were down 4-3 with about 2 minutes left?

C. Stone said...

That, and the fact that the other team was absolutely peppering our goalie all game and we weren't creating any sustained pressure.