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Advanced Metrics: Do Goalies Need to Face Shots in Order to Stop Shots?

Hockey announcers say goaltenders need to face frequent shots in order to stay sharp during a game. Do the numbers back this up?


Rich Pollock asked me an interesting question the other day:

"I was watching the Sens today, and the announcers kept saying that Leclaire hadn't seen any shots in the second and that goalies need action to "play better/feel in the rhythm." I was wondering if goalies actually did post better statistics when challenged more often."

There are a bunch of ways to look at this, but let's see if goalies - in general - give up more goals if they haven't faced a shot recently:


We see the rebound effect for the first four seconds, but if a goalie hasn't faced a shot for between five and 150 seconds, it has no impact on the percentage of shots he allows. I've included all shots at net here - including posts, crossbars, shots over the net and shots that went wide. Even if these shots weren't on target, they presumably gave the goaltender something to work on.

Basically, this hockey announcer truism just isn't true.