In ice hockey, how is plus/minus calculated?

In ice hockey, how is plus/minus calculated when it comes to individual player’s stats. Also, on a broader scale, what does plus/minus mean exactly? Unsure if I’m being redundant here.

2 Answers

You can calculate a player’s plus/minus using the following rules.

If a player is on the ice for a(n):

  • even-strength goal for: +1
  • even-strength goal against: -1
  • powerplay goal for: 0
  • powerplay goal against: -1
  • penalty kill (short handed) goal for: +1
  • penalty kill (short handed) goal against: 0

Plus/Minus is not awarded for penalty shots and goals scored into an empty net do not change how plus/minus is calculated.

Player plus/minus is calculated each game and then added to the net plus/minus from all previous games in the season.

With a shortened season this year in the NHL, season total plus/minus will look very different than other (non-shortened) seasons since the statistic is additive over all games in the season. For example if a player averages a +1 rating over a season, a regular 82 game schedule will see that player have a +/- of +82. This year, with the shortened 48 game schedule, that same player will have a +/- rating of only +48 despite performing equally well in both seasons.

The NHL publishes who was on the ice for each goal for every game as well as that players game +/- so you can check how the stat is calculated. Here’s an example from a recent game.
Buffalo vs. Montreal – 02 Feb 2013

  • Player on ice for goals
  • Player game statistics

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