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What is the "plus-minus" statistic and how is it calculated?

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Ice hockey, puck sliding past goalie, low angle view
David Madison/Stone/Getty Images
Question: What is the "plus-minus" statistic and how is it calculated?
Answer: When an even-strength or shorthanded goal is scored, every player on the ice for the team scoring the goal is credited with a "plus." Every player on the ice for the team scored against gets a "minus."

A player's overall total is calculated by subtracting the minuses from the pluses. A high plus total is taken to mean that a guy is a good defensive player. But it's a very broad measurement and there has always been disagreement over how useful a statistic it is.

  • Power play goals are not used in calculating plus-minus.
  • Shorthanded goals are used in calculating plus-minus.
  • Penalty shot goals are not used in calculating plus-minus.
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