Thursday, October 23, 2008

A few more thoughts on shootout strategy... plus more goons

There was some really interesting discussion as a result of my last post disagreeing with Ron Wilson's decision to pull Vesa Toskala before the shootout. Thanks to everyone who participated.

A few followup thoughts before we all head over to the game thread. As I said in the last post's comments, I'm all for coaches getting creative and going against the percentages. I just didn't like this move because I thought it put both goalies in a tough position, both during the game and going forward.

But let's assume that Wilson's basic premise is right: The Leafs are bad at shootouts, it's costing them points and they need to try to something desperate to turn that around. What's a creative coach to do?

Here's an idea: What about trying to stay out of shootouts? If you're going to lose the shootout anyway, why not swing for the fences in overtime?

For example, what about using three forwards during overtime? Throw whichever forward line is playing best out there with Kaberle and tell them to go score. Or heck, if we're getting crazy why not four forwards? What about having a skill guy like Kulemin or Grabovski hang around the other team's blue line for an entire shift as a cherry picker?

Sure, it might mean a few 2-on-0's coming the other way. But what's the worst that could happen? They score, you lose and have to settle for a single point? That was going to happen anyway, and now everyone gets to go home a few minutes early.

(One note: You couldn't go all the way and pull your goalie in OT, since the NHL has an obscure rule that forfeits the extra point in that case. Otherwise I'd suggest that too, at least in the final minute.)

Much like the Toskala switch, any of the strategies above would be controversial and go against conventional wisdom. They might work, they might not. But they have one advantage: they wouldn't embarass anyone.


Also, for anyone who enjoyed the Top Ten Norris Division Goons post, a Bruins blogger has created a list for the Adams Division. Check it out.

Will anyone step up and do the Patrick or Smythe? Stay tuned.


  1. Throw whichever forward line is playing best out there with Kaberle and tell them to go score.


    Or, play with a sense of urgency in the third period, like they did last night, and try to nail it down before it even goes to overtime.

  2. Great ideas. What do the Leafs have to lose? A point that they can't win anyway.

    I'd like to see them all happen.

    p.s. how did you find out about that rule in overtime?

  3. p.s. how did you find out about that rule in overtime?

    I remember hearing about it when the OT format first came in. I'm assuming it's still in the books, although I wouldn't know where to verify that.

  4. re: OT rule.

    probably could be verified @

    I tried to peruse, but couldn't find anything myself. It's not exactly bathroom reading material...

  5. Yep, here's the rule:

    84.2 Overtime – Regular-season – Extra Attacker - A team shall be allowed to pull its goalkeeper in favor of an additional skater in the overtime period. However, should that team lose the game during the time in which the goalkeeper has been removed, it would forfeit the automatic point gained in the tie at the end of regulation play, except if the goalkeeper has been removed at the call of a delayed penalty against the other team.

  6. Frankly the premis of going for it is brilliant.
    Zero to lose and Toskala shines in those scenarios.
    Hopefully Wilson gets the concept too.

  7. It would make the league happy, to see an all out pedal to the metal hockey in the overtime.

    I agree, go for the win and if you lose....oh well, VT might pull it out for you but likely like its your last chance, that was the intent of the rule.

    I guess we will see soon if Wilson reads the blog ;->