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Gallant Opens Up On Decision Making Process In Shootout

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As the clock struck 0:00 in overtime it was time for the Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant to make some tough decisions. Per NHL rules, when a game heads into the shootout, the home team is given the choice of shooting first or second.

Somebody told me we were 63% when we go first when Fleury’s in the net. So, I like 63 better than the other odds. Next game I might change it. But truthfully, over my career as a coach, I switch it up. It doesn’t matter to me. Some guys will want to go first all the time, I think most teams do, but I switch it up, I really do. -Gallant

Gallant reiterated that he doesn’t think it really matters, so he kind of just goes off his gut feeling for that night.

If you score there is (an advantage of going first). -Gallant

The Golden Knights have been in four shootouts this season and 11 in franchise history. They’ve gone first four times and won just one of them. They’ve gone second the other seven and have won five.

Four of them occurred at home, where Gallant is given the choice. He’s chosen to go first in three of the four, winning just one, while electing to go second once, which he also lost.

11/6/17 – @TOR – 2nd – Loss – Lagace
12/5/17 – ANA – 1st – Win – Subban
12/8/17 – @NSH – 2nd – Win – Subban
12/12/17 – CAR – 1st – Loss – Fleury
3/10/18 – @BUF – 2nd – Win – Fleury
3/24/18 @COL – 1st – Loss – Fleury
4/3/18 – @VAN – 2nd – Win – Subban

10/6/18 – @MIN – 2nd – Win – Fleury
10/24/ 18 – VAN – 2nd – Loss – Fleury
2/5/19 – @TBL – 2nd – Win – Fleury
2/20/19 – BOS – 1st – Loss – Fleury

(Have to assume the 63% Gallant is talking about is over the course of Fleury’s career. But who has time to look that up? Not me.)

Not sure exactly when this was published, but according to a study, going first or second in the shootout has not been statistically significant in the outcome. At the time of the study. 50.5% of teams that went second went on to win, hardly an advantage at all.

Last night Gallant went with Brandon Pirri, William Karlsson, Alex Tuch, Jonathan Marchessault, Shea Theodore, and Oscar Lindberg as his six shooters.

I’ll let him explain the thought process on that one.

We have a good idea before the game. But to be honest with you when a guy looks real good in the game you might change your mind or if somebody doesn’t look too good in the game or confident then you might change your mind, but you have your list of shooters.

(Said with a smile) You go through different guys and different feelings and sometimes it’s a gut feeling. I’m sure people can look at the six we picked last night and say why didn’t this guy go or this guy go, I’m not going to tell you why.

Maybe some guys don’t want to go, maybe some guys don’t feel comfortable going on penalty shots. (Shrug) So that’s part of it. -Gallant

He also added that results do matter and he’s not afraid to switch it up.

Now, next game, maybe Cody Eakin’s gonna go, cause Cody’s been pretty good in breakways this year. We’ll change it up. A few different guys went last night, like Lindberg, I like the way he’s played lately and he had a couple real nice goals, so you give somebody an opportunity. -Gallant

The final piece of the puzzle is when to tell each shooter that they will be going. Gallant likes the last minute approach.

With me, I tell them just before they go. I’ll tell the first shooter right away and after that it depends who scores and who doesn’t score. We don’t put a list up before the game. It happens pretty quick. -Gallant

Shootouts are basically made for second-guessing and no matter what, when a team loses in a shootout, there will be plenty to critique. That was the case last night, that’ll be the case the next time the Golden Knights drop a game in the skills competition the NHL deems necessary due to North America’s phobia of ties.

I think I know who our best six or seven shooters are in a row. So we’ll do the best we can. -Gallant

Can’t argue with that.

Well, I guess you can… and probably will.


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    I think I read somewhere that over their history shooters have a career 1 in 3 chance of scoring in a shootout. I wish overtime was a 10min 3 on 3 at least.

  2. VGK2018

    Wow…wasn’t even going to read the post given the title but Gallant was shockingly forthcoming (relative to what he usually shares). At least he gave some insights into what he was thinking. I am guessing I was as shocked as anyone when Lindberg went out there but he has been playing well so why not. Good for him and a a good read. Thanks!

  3. Mike G

    Well even after reading his response it makes no sense to go first. Seems in any sport or sudden death situation you would always want the last opportunity. I also still don’t understand the logic behind having (3) of your top snipers- Marchy, Patches, and Eakin sitting on their hands.
    I hate the skills competition. 10 min 3 on 3 or hell even go 2 on 2 for the second 5 minutes. End in a tie if you have to… anything but a shootout…

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