How are Hockey Goal Tending Statistics Calculated?

Understanding Goals-Against Average and Save Percentage

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 12: Goaltender Antti Niemi #31 of the San Jose Sharks in action during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on April 12, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. The Sharks defeated the Coyotes 3-2.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

To score a point in hockey, a player needs to shoot the puck into the goal. This requires getting the puck past the goaltender. Like in other goal-keeping sports like soccer and water polo, the goaltender is an important and integral position. 

Statistics help determine how a goaltender is performing compared to other goaltenders. The two hockey statistics related to goaltenders include goals-against average and save percentage.

Let's break down what these statistics actually mean and how they are calculated.

Goals-Against Average

Goals-against average, or GAA, is the number of goals allowed per 60 minutes played, rounded to two decimal points.

The formula for calculating this statistic consists of multiplying the number of goals allowed by 60 and divide by the total number of minutes played.

For example, if a goaltender allowed 4 goals in 180 minutes, his or her GAA would be 1.33. This number comes from the number of goals, 4, times 60, which yields 240. Then, 240 is divided by the number of total minutes played, 180, which is 1.33. The result suggests that for every full game played, said goaltender would allow 1.33 goals.

The GAA does not take empty net goals or shootout goals into account.

Save Percentage

The save percentage expresses a goaltender's success based on the number of shots he or she faces, or how many saves a goaltender executes.

In order to determine the save percentage, the formula consists of dividing the number saves made by the number of shots on goal. Take this number and work it out to 3 decimal places.

For example, if a goaltender faced 45 shots and allowed 5 goals, his or her save percentage is .888. This statistic derives from the number of saves, 40, divided by the number of shots, 45, worked out to 3 decimal places, which gives .888.

The number suggests that if said goaltender were to face 1,000 shots, he or she would stop 888 of them.

Like GAA, save percentage does not take empty net goals or shootout goals into account.