As a hockey fan, you’ve probably heard the term “plus minus” used in conversations about player statistics. But do you really know what it means and how it’s calculated? Plus minus is actually an incredibly important measure of a player’s impact on the ice.
In this article, we’ll delve deep into plus minus in hockey – what it is, how it works, and why it matters. You’ll learn everything you need to know about this essential scoring statistic, including its origins, its pros and cons, and how it compares to other metrics used to evaluate players.
“Plus minus can tell us a lot about a player’s ability to contribute offensively while also playing strong defense.”
We’ll also explore some of the most famous examples of players who excelled (or struggled) when it comes to plus minus, and highlight some of the latest research and theories about how best to use this metric to evaluate modern day NHL stars. Whether you’re new to hockey or a longtime fan looking to deepen your understanding of the game, you won’t want to miss this comprehensive guide to one of hockey’s most important statistics.
The Basics Of Plus Minus In Hockey
Hockey is a fast-paced game that requires skill and strategy. One of the key statistics used to measure player performance in hockey is plus-minus. This statistic provides valuable insight into how well players are contributing to their team’s success on the ice.
What Is Plus Minus?
A plus-minus rating measures the total number of goals scored for and against a team while a specific player is on the ice at even strength or shorthanded. If a player is on the ice when his team scores a goal, he receives a plus point. Conversely, if a player is on the ice when the opposing team scores a goal, he receives a minus point. The difference between these two numbers is a player’s plus-minus rating.
For example, let’s say Player A is on the ice for 10 goals scored by his team and six goals scored against his team. His plus-minus rating would be +4 (10-6=4).
Plus-minus can also be calculated separately for power play and penalty kill situations.
How Does Plus Minus Affect Team Performance?
Team performance plays a crucial role in determining a player’s plus-minus rating. Players who consistently contribute to their team’s offensive success often have higher plus-minus ratings than defensive-minded players who typically focus on preventing the opposition from scoring.
Player positioning also affects plus-minus ratings. Defensemen tend to receive lower plus-minus ratings because they are responsible for protecting their own net and are therefore more likely to be on the ice when the opposing team scores.
A positive plus-minus rating indicates that a player has contributed to his team’s success. On the other hand, a negative plus-minus rating means that a player gave up more goals than his team scored while he was on the ice.
What Is A Good Plus Minus Rating?
A good plus-minus rating varies depending on the player’s position and playing style. Generally, a player with a positive plus-minus rating is considered to have played well and contributed to their team’s success.
The NHL average plus-minus rating is around zero, as for every goal scored there will typically be a goal allowed. While many elite players often finish the season with high plus-minus ratings, it is important to note that this statistic should not be relied upon alone; other factors such as time on ice and shot attempt differentials should also be considered when evaluating a player’s overall performance.
How Can Plus Minus Be Used To Evaluate Players?
Plus-minus can be used to evaluate individual player performance throughout a season and across multiple seasons. However, other considerations must be made before relying solely on plus-minus to determine a player’s value.
Other factors that may influence a player’s plus-minus rating include the strength of his teammates, opposition, and the amount of special teams play he sees.
“A sense of responsibility on defense is something you just learn from an early age. You don’t need your coach to tell you how important it is.” – Nicklas Lidstrom
Nicklas Lidstrom, one of the greatest defensemen in NHL history, understood the importance of defensive responsibilities. Despite finishing his career with a +450 rating (the third-highest in league history), Lidstrom knew that other factors contributed to his successful plus-minus rating.
When using plus-minus to evaluate player performance, it is essential to take into account these other variables. However, plus-minus still provides valuable insight into how well a player is contributing to his team’s success on the ice.
How Is Plus Minus Calculated?
Plus minus is a statistic used in the game of hockey to measure a player’s performance on the ice. It measures how many goals were scored for (+) and against (-) while a player was on the ice. However, there are different factors that affect plus minus calculations.
Counting Goals For and Against
The most basic factor in calculating plus minus is counting the number of goals scored for and against a player’s team when they are on the ice. When a goal is scored by the player’s team, they receive a +1 point. Conversely, if a goal is scored by the opposing team, the player receives a -1 point.
For example, if a player is on the ice when their team scores two goals and the opponent scores one, then their plus minus would be +1. If another player is on the ice when their team gets scored three times without scoring, their plus-minus will be lowered by three points (-3).
Adjusting For Even Strength, Power Play, and Short Handed Situations
The next factor that has an impact on plus minus is adjusting it based on whether the team had even strength or was on special teams, such as during power plays or penalty kills.
During even-strength play, each player adds their respective plus-minus score just the way it was calculated earlier. However, situation changes if their team ends up playing short-handed due to penalties since it puts them at a disadvantage. The event leads to the possibility of extra goals being scored against their team, so this has adjusted accordingly (marked as SHG- short-handed goals) and if successful in killing off the penalties without conceding any further goals, the players involved receive a bonus (plus-) point known as SH or short-handed goal.
On the opposite end, a player’s team may have a power play advantage, giving them an extra man on the ice. If their teammate scores during that time, then they earn an additional point for each three goals scored in that advantage situation (PPG- Power Play Goal).
Including Empty Net Goals
The final factor in calculating plus minus is whether the opposing team had removed its goaltender late in the game to obtain another attacking skater; this creates more space and opportunities near the opponent’s net but makes it less defended since there are no keepers around. In hockey, when teams pull their goalie in favor of the attacker in hopes of scoring, it also adds an interesting dynamic because if they fail to score, the other team can shoot the puck unguarded into the empty net and score potentially decisive insurance goal known as ENG (Empty Net Goaltender).
If any of these goals happen while the player is on the ice, that plus-minus statistic will be either raised by +1 for or lowered -1 against them.
“Plus minus is not viewed as important as some other statistical measures now common in hockey, such as Corsi and Fenwick ratings.” –JP Vasseur, Executive Producer, STATS Perform
Plus minus is a useful statistic used in measuring a player’s overall performance on the ice throughout the season. It takes into account several factors like even strength, special teams situations, and empty-net goals influenced by strong defense work to avoid conceding unnecessary goals. But despite being gained exposure and acceptance, it doesn’t fully reflect a player’s contribution in intricate details compared to current stats models like Corsi and Fenwick mentioned above.
What Does A Plus Minus Rating Mean?
A plus minus rating is a statistical measurement used in hockey that depicts the performance of players while on the ice. It takes into account how many goals were scored when the player was on the ice, both against and for their team. If a player scores more goals than they allow, then they have a positive plus minus rating. Conversely, if they allow more goals than they score, then they have a negative plus minus rating.
The plus minus statistic has been available since the early 1900s but only became widely accepted in the 1960s. Since then, it has become one of the essential stats considered by coaches, scouts, and fans to evaluate defensemen and forwards’ performances.
Interpreting A Positive Plus Minus Rating
A positive plus minus rating reflects that a particular player contributes to their team’s success. Players with a high plus minus are often reliable defensively and demonstrate strong offensive awareness. They make smart passes, create opportunities, and play an active role in their team’s success.
Having a positive plus minus does not always mean a player is a star performer. There are plenty of situations where a player may benefit from luck or excellent teammates that drive up their rating. Additionally, some players who primarily play a defensive role, such as penalty-killers, can tend to have higher ratings, even if they do not contribute significantly to the scoreboard offensively.
Interpreting A Negative Plus Minus Rating
A negative plus minus rating usually indicates that a player is struggling defensively and might be responsible for allowing too many goals. However, it’s essential to remember that this isn’t always the case, as several factors can impact a player’s rating negatively.
For example, a player in the middle of a goal-scoring slump may have a low rating due to something entirely out of their control. Similarly, a defenseman who primarily plays against top opponents may struggle with his plus-minus rating if he’s matched up against many high-quality lines.
While a player’s plus minus rating can be an excellent tool for evaluating performance and success, it is essential to look beyond the statistic itself. Player roles can impact their rating dramatically, so coaches and analysts should consider how they fit into the team before making any firm decisions based on this single number. However, when viewed alongside other factors, such as ice time or shooting percentage, a player’s +/- can reveal much about their skill and contributions on the ice.
The Importance Of Plus Minus In Evaluating Players
Plus-minus is a statistical measure that reflects how many more (or fewer) goals a team scores when a particular player is on the ice. Simply put, it tracks how effective the player is when compared to their teammates while they are playing.
“Plus/minus has always been an important stat and one that I look at because, ultimately, in the end, you’re trying to win.” -Jonathan Toews
Identifying Defensive Specialists
A player with a high plus-minus rating indicates strong defensive play since they help prevent opposing teams from scoring while they are on the ice. This can be particularly useful when trying to identify players who excel in shutting down opponents and preventing goals from being scored.
“When we talk about what makes our defense so good, a lot of times we refer back to the guys’ ability to have a great stick and play tight defensively without getting penalized or giving up opportunities…” -Mike Sullivan
Assessing Team Contributions
By examining the plus-minus statistics for each individual player, hockey coaches and managers can gain insight into how each player contributes to the overall success of the team. Analyzing this data can provide a clearer understanding of which players are essential to achieving victories and identifying those who may need additional support and development.
“We evaluate (plus/minus) just like every other stat that we use… The more depth you have, the better chance you have of winning.” -Bruce Boudreau
Comparing Players Across Different Teams
Since the plus-minus statistic is a league-wide metric, it allows for comparison between players across different teams and divisions. This can be particularly helpful when assessing acquisitions or trades, as well as when scouting potential free agents.
“Plus/minus is the most overlooked statistic in hockey…It’s just a great way for you to evaluate players on different teams. Plus-minus tells you a lot about a player.” -Ted Nolan
Predicting Future Performance
The plus-minus metric can also be used to predict future performance and set realistic goals for individual players. By identifying areas where a player can improve their plus-minus rating, coaches and players can focus on enhancing their overall contributions to the team and ultimately increase victories.
“I know guys sometimes get lost trying to chase offensive numbers. I think if you want to be more successful and help your team win, it’s important to focus on that defensive side of things…” -Mark Scheifele
- To conclude, plus-minus statistics play a significant role in evaluating player performance in hockey.
- They provide insight into defensive abilities, team contributions, comparisons across leagues and divisions, and predicting future success.
- By analyzing plus-minus data, coaches, and managers can determine which players are essential to achieving victory and identify those who may need additional support and development.
Controversies Surrounding Plus Minus In Hockey
Hockey is a highly competitive game that requires teamwork, skill, and strategy. One of the most commonly used statistics in hockey to measure a player’s on-ice performance is the plus-minus rating. This statistic gives us information about how many goals were scored when a particular player was on the ice. However, there has been much debate over the years regarding the validity of this statistic, with some saying it is an accurate measurement of defensive ability, while others say it depends too much on team performance or can be manipulated by coaches.
Is Plus Minus An Accurate Measure Of Defensive Ability?
A player’s plus-minus rating is calculated by adding up the number of goals their team scores while they are on the ice, subtracting the number of goals scored against them. If a player has a high positive rating, then it means their team outscored their opponents by a significant margin when that player was on the ice. Conversely, if a player has a low negative rating, then it implies that their team conceded more goals while they were playing than they could score themselves. Some believe that this makes the plus-minus rating an excellent way to determine a player’s defensive ability since it reflects how well they prevent the opposition from scoring goals.
Not everyone agrees. It is important to note that a player’s plus-minus score also takes into account both even-strength and power-play situations, which may not always give an accurate reflection of a player’s performance. Similarly, players who play fewer minutes or on teams that lack depth overall might suffer from lower plus-minus numbers due to factors beyond their control such as fatigue and limited opportunities to score.
Does Plus Minus Depend Too Much On Team Performance?
A common critique of the plus-minus statistic in hockey is that it depends too much on out-of-control variables such as team performance and ice-time. For example, if a player is playing on a good team with strong offensive players, then they will be more likely to have higher plus-minus ratings because their teammates often score goals while they are on the ice. Similarly, players who play few minutes each game might suffer from poorer +/- numbers than the rest of their team due to lack of opportunities for successful plays.
Moreover, some critics feel that this metric fails to account for how well a player performs off the puck, like blocking shots or breaking up passes, which could contribute positively toward helping his/her team win, but does not necessarily get reflected in the traditional plus-minus rating.
Can Plus Minus Be Manipulated By Coaches?
The third controversy surrounding the plus-minus statistic concerns the potential for coaches to manipulate it artificially. Since a coach determines which line gets most defensive/offensive responsibilities during games, she/he can pick and choose certain players to max out their already high +/-. This policy usually results in other equally talented defenders having low ratings even when they produce positive contributions towards the team’s success. Hence, some argue that this conventional approach might ultimately inflate particular players’ perceived abilities by relying exclusively on stats rather than actual on-ice ability.
“The problem with plus/minus is that a bad player can end up with an excellent score at the expense of his teammate’s quality of efforts.” -Walter Buswell
While plus-minus has value as a quick, easy-to-understand stat, its use should be approached with caution, given the subjectivity with respect to various external factors. A good start may be analyzing teams’ average rating per player and correcting those whose performances might have been affected negatively despite them offering valuable contributions. Ultimately, only by looking at a player’s whole game can we truly make sound judgments about their defensive ability and general contribution to the team.
Alternative Scoring Statistics Used In Hockey
While plus-minus remains a traditional statistic used in hockey to measure player performance, it is not always the most accurate indicator of how well a player contributes to their team’s success. Alternative scoring statistics have emerged in recent years that provide a more comprehensive view of a player’s impact on the game.
Corsi and Fenwick
The Corsi and Fenwick stats were developed by analysts in the NHL as an alternative to traditional plus-minus measurements. These statistics take into account all shots generated by a team and compare them to those given up while a particular player was on the ice for both teams. The difference between these numbers provides a better indication of how much a specific player affects shot attempts during games.
Essentially, the major advantage that Corsi, Fenwick metrics offer over plus-minus ratings is that they generally reflect the play we witnessed on the ice more accurately than putrid +/- stats do. These alternate stats can provide definitive information about puck possession versus a standard Plus/Minus rating. It gives analysts at any level superior insights into which players produce volume regarding things like shots, misses, blocks, and goals by looking at the total number of events surrounding a player’s shifts or when they’re on the ice.
In addition to Corsi and Fenwick statistics, expected goals are also used by many analysts to assess a player’s offensive contributions. This involves evaluating every shot a player takes based on historical data to determine their “expected goal” rate. Essentially, this measures the likelihood of a shot resulting in a goal based on factors such as distance from the net and angle of attack.
This allows us to examine individual players and teams on a completely new perspective and uncover hidden trends within the league. However, the projected goals formula that drives Expected Goals is controlled by an array of different factors. Many researchers use this metric to predict future outcomes and trends rather than taking it at face value, considering internal aspects like adjusting for team strength and opposing netminders.
Zone Starts and Quality of Competition
In hockey, the location on the ice where a player starts their shift can have a significant impact on their statistical output. Zone starts are used to evaluate how much time a specific player spends in either the offensive or defensive zone. If a forward regularly begins shifts in the opponent’s end of the ice, then they may receive more aggressive assignments designed predominantly around offense versus defense. Likewise, players starting frequently in their own defensive zone may be tasked with playing more conservatively, thus limiting their window of opportunity to generate points.
Quality of competition measures which players a skater faces the most based on matchups as high-quality players will undoubtedly produce better results against lower-tier talents. Assessing these factors when analyzing Corsi et al. stats provides enriched context beyond simple shot counting because not all players out there share precisely identical roles, responsibilities, and teammates.
Time on Ice and Point Production
The amount of time a player spends on the ice also has a bearing on their overall statistics. Measuring point production per minute played provides more insight into a player’s overall ability to contribute offensively. It should be noted that some stadiums provide biased advantages, such as longer shifts, but point scoring rates continue nonetheless as game-day strategies arise.
“Players who play 25 minutes and contribute nothing; those games tend to come back and bite you eventually.” -Former NHL Player Mike Modano
Additional factors, including splits between even-strength, power-play, and shorthanded contributions may follow. Nevertheless, correlations have been found between point production at even-strength with combining their expected goal rate, along with their ice team’s possession numbers. Though analyzing quality of competition and how much time someone spends on the ice are paramount in developing final conclusions.
In summation, although plus-minus ratings remain a relevant statistic within hockey culture, alternate scoring statistics like Corsi et al., quality of competition, and points per minute played provide greater insight into individual player performances. These metrics afford greater weight to shot generation, utilizing performance analyses beyond a single player’s influence on his or her team’s offensive playmaking — ultimately providing more comprehensive information for analysts considering what makes up a valuable asset towards winning games both today and through every season that we witness ahead.
Frequently Asked Questions
How is plus minus calculated in hockey?
Plus minus is calculated by subtracting the number of goals scored against a team while a player is on the ice from the number of goals scored by that player’s team while the player is on the ice. The resulting number is the player’s plus minus rating.
What does a positive plus minus mean in hockey?
A positive plus minus means that a player’s team has scored more goals than the opposing team while the player is on the ice. This is an indication that the player is contributing to the team’s success and helping to prevent goals against.
What does a negative plus minus mean in hockey?
A negative plus minus means that a player’s team has allowed more goals than they have scored while the player is on the ice. This can indicate that the player is not contributing to the team’s success and may be allowing goals against.
How important is plus minus in evaluating a player’s performance?
Plus minus can be a helpful statistic in evaluating a player’s performance, but it should not be the only factor considered. Other factors, such as a player’s role on the team, their individual offensive and defensive contributions, and their overall impact on the game, should also be taken into account.
Are there any limitations or criticisms of using plus minus in hockey statistics?
One criticism of plus minus is that it can be influenced by factors outside of a player’s control, such as the strength of their team or the quality of their opponents. Additionally, it does not account for individual performance or contributions to specific goals. Finally, it can be misleading when evaluating players who play primarily on the penalty kill or power play, as they may not be on the ice for as many even-strength goals.