Intro to Hockey: Common Stats

Statistics aren’t part of hockey’s rules per say, but I think it’s important to have an understanding of the common ways we compare one player to the next. Let’s take a look at a few common stats in this video. Being that the way a game is won is by scoring more goals than the other team, it makes sense that one of the main ways
to compare one player to the next is by the number of goals that they score.
The record for the most goals scored in one NHL season–which is 82
games long–is 92 goals by Wayne Gretzky. He is considered to be one of, if not the best, player in the history of hockey. He scored those 92 goals during the 1981-82 season. And for a few reasons you probably won’t see that record broken anytime soon. The main reason is that goalies wore smaller pads back then and scoring in general across the league was higher. Still it’s quite an accomplishment and probably won’t be broken any time soon. To give you a better idea of the modern game Alex Ovechkin scored 65 goals in 2007-2008, that’s the most anybody scored in the last ten years. Not every goal is entirely the result of the scorers’ action.
Sometimes really good pass from a teammate can make it easy to put the puck in the back net. This is why we have the stat of assists. A player is awarded an assist if he was one of the two players to touch the puck right before the guy who scored the goal–
assuming that nobody on the other team touched it in the meantime. Let’s say our guy on the right has the puck.
He skates down with his teammate and he passes the puck and his teammate scores a goal. In this case the guy who shot the puck into the net would receive credit for the goal, but the guy who passed it to him would get the assist. Each goal can have up to two assists. Because goals and assists are so closely related, the category of points was created.
Points are very simple to calculate. They are simply the number of goals that a
player has added to the number of assists that he has. Plus-minus is a very simple way to try to incorporate both offense and defense into one stat. The way +/- works is that if you are on the ice when your team scores a goal you get a plus one, and if you’re on the ice when the other
team scores a goal you get a -1. There are a few exceptions. The first is that power play goals are not considered for plus/minus,
so a power play goal will not earn you a plus. And if you are on the penalty kill when the
other team scores against you that will not count against you. A short-handed goal is counted though in plus-minus. Plus-minus is another record that you’ll probably never see broken, this is is Bobby Orr’s plus/minus record of 124 for a season. Nowadays you’re really good if you get around a 30 over a season. To get up 40 or 50 is rare, but possible. This is a particularly telling stat for defenseman like Zdeno Chara, who
was among the league leaders with a +33 in both the 2010-11 and the 2011-12 seasons. This signals that if he was on the ice
you’re going to have a really tough time scoring against him. You might hear somebody refer to
something called ‘pimms.’ Pimms is just that way that PIM is pronounced, and PIMs is an abbreviation for Penalties in Minutes. Because penalties have varying lengths–usually 2 or 5 minutes–it is more fair to keep track a penalty minutes rather than the number of penalties a player’s called for. The League leader in penalty minutes probably be somewhere in the 200s over season, though they could get up in the 300s if they’re particularly hard core. This one might be a little confusing at
first. Taking a shot seems like a simple enough stat keep track of, but if it is
to be counted as a ‘shot on goal’ it must, in the judgment the scorekeeper, be a shot that would have gone into the net had the goalie not been there to stop it. Technically even if a shot gets past the goalie, hits the goal post and bounces away it is not counted as a shot on goal. Blocked shots and shots wide of the net are also not counted. Usually when you hear somebody refer to the number of shots a player or team has, they are talking about the number of shots on goal. As a side note, I am noticing more and more announces referring to attempted shots, which is different than shots on goal. Obviously an attempted shot is anything that’s whacked in the general vicinity of the goal, but not all these will be counted shots on goal. If you hear about a team that has faced a high number of attempted shots, but a low number shots on goal, this means they are doing a very good job blocking shots before they even get to the goalie. And speaking of goalies, as they have a highly specialized position they also have their own set of stats. The simplest goalie stat is probably the number of goals that they have allowed to go with the net, or ‘Goals Against.’ Obviously a shortcoming in this is going to be comparing goalies with a lot of playing time to those who haven’t played as much. Which is why we have the next stat of, ‘Goals Against Average.’ Goals Against Average is the average number goals given up by a goalie per game, so it’s kind of like the equivalent to a pitcher’s ERA in baseball. To find goals against average we take the number of goals allowed, multiply this by 60 and will divide that value by the by the time the goalie has played. Being that one game is 60 minutes long. The best Goals Against Average over a season will probably be around 2.00. Which means that that goalie has allowed an average two goals per game. The shortcoming Goals Against Average is that it only takes time played into accout, which could hurt or help a goalie depending on how good or bad his team is
at stopping shots from getting to him in the first place. A goalie could play game allow two goals on ten shots or allow two goals on 30 shots. Even though both goalies’ Goals Against Average will be to 2.00,
their play was obviously not equal. This is why we have ‘Save Percentage,’ which is the number of saves made divided by the number of shots the goalie has faced. Goalies will want to be saving over 90% of the shots that they face, or have a save percentage of over .900. It’s usually written out to three decimal places. If you drop too far below that, you might not find yourself between the pipes for very much longer.

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