In ice hockey, there’s such a thing as the Royal Road, referred to by some as the most important line on the ice. Most have never heard of it, but research shows that using this Royal Road in ice hockey leads to more goals. Can this be applied to floorball?
What is the Royal Road?
It’s about goals, both in ice hockey and floorball. Score more than your opponent and you win the game, it’s as simple as that. In larger sports, such as ice hockey, statistics start to play a bigger role every year (although we can also see this development gaining traction in floorball). All numbers are being looked at, such as the number of shots on goal, but also the quality of each shot.
This is where the Royal Road from ice hockey comes into play. In the USA, Stephen Valiquette watched about a hundred games of the NHL season 2014/2015 and analyzed the goals scored. After completing the analysis, he launched the term Royal Road: the imaginary line between the two goalkeepers, which splits the field into two parts (in the length of the pitch).
In the image above, it concerns the line from the goalkeeper (top right) to the tangent plane with the other line, or have a look at the red line in below’s image.
Valiquette states that shots ‘using the Royal Road’ have a greater chance of becoming a goal. This Royal Road changed everything – in ice hockey.
In short: if the puck had crossed the Royal Road prior to a shot, the chance that the shot would become a goal became more than ten times greater. An enormous number, but how can it be explained? For that, we’ll start with something he named green goals.
Valiquette observed a number of different scenarios in which the puck crossed the imaginary line. He divided those scenarios into two categories: the dribble and the (cross)pass. As soon as the puck crossed this line, the Royal Road, the goalkeeper had to adapt to the new situation. This is the moment when the chance of a goal multiplied tremendously.
When a goalkeeper has its eye on the puck and nothing changes, he’s able to keep a perfect position, both in positioning himself in the goal and keeping his body position right. However, this changes when the goalie is forced to move to a new position – for instance directly after a cross pass is being given.
While moving to a new goalkeeper’s position, the goalie must both protect the goal, keep his eye on the puck and coordinate his movement (note: where ‘puck’ is said, you can also read ‘ball’). The goals that followed from these actions were called Green goals: goals where the goalkeeper had less than half a second to see the shot coming.
And guess what? A whopping 76% of all goals were Green goals.
What else turned out to be? Only a quarter of all shots per game was a ‘Green shot’ – the rest consisted of ‘Red shots’, shots in which the Royal Road was not in play. So the smallest number of shots led to the highest number of goals, as 25% of the shots where Green shots, while 76% of the goals were Green goals.
Returning to the introduction: a team does not necessarily have to have the highest number of shots on goal, it is more about the quality of the shots.
What are the differences between the Royal Road and Green goals? A Green goal doesn’t necessarily have to have gone over the Royal Road, it’s about the goalkeeper having less than half a second to see the shot.
The types of Green goals divided into categories
It is almost impossible to perform Valiquette’s work in floorball: watching a hundred games and writing down what kind of goals are scored. This is why we take the figures for ice hockey again.
Valiquette divided the Green goals into seven categories. Below we discuss them, if possible with an example from floorball. With this, we also start answering the question if the Royal Road can be used in floorball. To repeat: 76% of all goals were scored from a Green shot/rebound while they made only up 25% of the shots.
1. Passes over the Royal Road (22%)
How do you maximize your chances of scoring a goal? Make a cross pass, so a pass over the axis (the Royal Road). The goalkeeper has to react in order to protect the goal properly and in this situation has more difficulty in both positioning himself (or herself) and keeping an eye on the puck (or ball).
The image above is from the Champions Cup final 2020 between Storvreta and Wiler-Ersigen. Immediately after the pass, the goalkeeper is in a hopeless position for the shot from the left.
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