Hockey Question

When it comes to sports, hockey is the sport I know the least about.  Well okay, I know nothing about Jai Alai or Quidditch, but of the four major American sports, I know the least about hockey.  I know what you are thinking:  “do you even like basketball?”  As a youngster, I loved basketball, knew all sorts of history facts and could even have a discussion about different offensive and defensive strategies.

For the majority of my youth, I knew nothing of hockey.  The first time I watched a game was at Gannon during my freshman year.  A bunch of us stayed up to watch the Pens/Flyers playoff game that went five overtimes.  The next year, I watched the Pens in the playoffs against the Sabres with my step-dad.

When I went to Penn State, my one roommate played intramural hockey and I went to some of his games.  We would also play NHL03 and watch games on TV.  He would explain some of the nuances of the game to me.  That was about the time that I started to become a fan of a hockey.  Yep, I can admit that I probably became more interested because the Penguins were becoming good again.

Okay, so we covered my hockey background.  Here is my question:  why not pull the goalie more often?  Allow me to elaborate…

If you are losing 3-1 in the third period, why do teams wait until there are two minutes or so to pull the goalie and use the extra attacker?  Why not pull the goalie earlier?  I know the argument is that if they score an empty-netter then you are pretty much out of it.  My problem with that thinking is what is the difference between losing 7-1 or 3-1?  There is no difference, correct?  I say go for it.

Has there been research done on goal scoring with the goalie pulled?  Does the offensive team score at a higher rate?  Or do teams get the empty-netter more often?  If that is the case, then is there a benefit to pulling the goalie?  I guess I could understand that one.  How much do teams practice that scenario?  If you were going to utilize this situation, could you do something different than other teams? 

I would love to hear what some of my hockey friends have to say on this one…