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Submitted by on Jul 21, 2021

When a player is in the game, plus-minus (+/, plus/minus) is a sports statistic that measures their effect on the game by the difference between their team’s total scoring and their opponent’s. It is used to calculate a player’s goal difference in ice hockey. When an even-strength or shorthanded goal is scored, the plus-minus statistic for those players on the ice for the side scoring the goal is boosted by one (“plus”), while the plus-minus statistic for those players on the ice for the team allowing the goal is lowered by one (“minus”). Goals scored on the power play or via a penalty shot are not included. For plus-minus calculations, an empty net is irrelevant.

The plus-minus rating is another name for this statistic.

To give a more relevant metric throughout the course of a season, a player’s plus-minus statistic is calculated for each game played. Overall team performance, which is influenced by both offensive and defensive performance, has a direct impact on this metric.

Starting in the 1950s, the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens were the first club to keep track of their players’ plus-minus. In the early 1960s, other clubs followed suit, and the NHL began recording the statistic for the 1967–68 season. While Emile Francis is frequently credited with inventing the method, he did little more than promoting and modify the Canadiens’ approach.

From 1982–83 through 2007–08, the NHL gave the NHL Plus-Minus Award to the player with the greatest plus-minus statistic during the regular season.

Each year, one of the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) players receives the WHL Plus-Minus Award.

In ice hockey, the conventional computation of the plus-minus statistic has certain disadvantages. Not all sorts of goals, particularly power-play goals, are covered. Regardless of the circumstance – even strength, power play, short-handed, or empty net – every goal included in the formula is weighted the same. Goaltenders are also exempt from the standard plus-minus system.

Only penalty shots and shootout goals are excluded from the situational plus-minus (Sit +/-) formula, which takes into account all sorts of “team-based” goals. The number of skaters (not goaltenders) on the rink is used to weigh each goal. The plus-minus rating is calculated by dividing the number of skaters on the ice for the scoring team by the number of skaters on the ice for the scoring team and then applying a plus to all players (including goaltenders) on the ice for the scoring team and a minus to all players (including goaltenders) on the ice for the scoring team.