While watching hockey, I often hear commentators say, “He had him beat but he hit the crossbar/post” whenever a shot rings off of the metal. This is not just coming from Blues commentators John Kelly and Darren Pang; this is across the board with any Fox Sports, Comcast, MSG, and even Rogers Sports or CBC broadcasters. The problem is that it is simply not a true statement. The puck has to entirely cross the goal line in order to be awarded as a goal per the NHL’s rules for goals. Therefore, if the puck doesn’t go in, the shooter did not beat the goaltender, plain and simple. This is why a shot that hits the crossbar/post is not considered a shot on goal.
Goaltenders have a complex algorithm in which they are constantly processing the distance they are out from the net in proportion to how far the shooter is, what angle the shooter is shooting from, whether or not the shooter is flicking the puck on net with a wrist shot vs teeing up for a slapshot, where the rebound may go, and probably many other factors that the rest of us just are not aware of. In other words, NHL caliber goalies are aware (down to the centimeter) as to how much net the shooter has to shoot at, so it is a moot point to state that, “He had him beat but the crossbar/post saved him”. If that were the logic, we can say that we almost won the lottery every time we get a losing scratch off ticket or that we avoided certain death every time we safely fly.
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Written by Patrick McLellan