What Does P-L Mean in Hockey Betting?

When you are betting on hockey, chances are you will come across the abbreviation “P-L”. So what does it mean, and how should you interpret it?

Player Performance Rating or “P-L” is an abbreviation that stands for Player’s League. The P-L is a method of rating players according to how well they perform compared to the rest of their team mates. It was implemented in the 2006–07 NHL season and is used in all three leagues, the AHL, OHL, and WHL. The rating scale ranges from 0 to 100, with 0 meaning the player is performing at the same level as expected of an average member of the league, and 100 meaning the player is outperforming their teammates. The formula is not exactly secret and can be calculated using these equations:

  • Number of Points = Number of Times Player Scored + Number of Times Player Assisted
  • Number of Shots On Goal = Number of Times Player Scored + 1
  • Number of High Danger Scoring Chances = Number of Times Player Scored + Number of Times Player Assisted + 1
  • Number of Game Winning Goals = Number of Times Player Scored + Number of Times Player Assisted

To prevent confusion, it is vital to understand that the P-L does not take into account a player’s ice time. For example, a player who scores a goal every other game will have the same P-L score as a player who scores one goal every other game and a zero-point game or a player who scores a goal in every game.

Also, it is vital to remember that the P-L is a team-relative rating. A team with more talented players will typically have a higher P-L score, and a team with less talented players will have a lower P-L score. In the last season before implementing the P-L (2005–06), the Carolina Hurricanes had the highest P-L score in the NHL with an 84.61 rating. The Hurricanes were a perfect 12–0 in one-goal games and outscored their opponents by a score of 7–0 in one-goal contests. The Tampa Bay Lightning had the lowest P-L score at the time with a 28.23 rating. The Lightning were 1–11 in one-goal games and lost 10 one-goal contests. A team’s P-L score can fluctuate from season to season based on a variety of factors including the number of players injured, traded, or promoted to the NHL. Injuries and personnel changes are also responsible for the large fluctuations in the scores of individual teams.

What is the Purpose of the P-L?

The P-L score is used to compare a player to the average professional player in their league. A player with a score of 50 or more is considered to be a significant outperformer. The P-L score is also used to compare players to one another. Two players with the same number of points will have a head-to-head comparison in terms of their P-L scores. The NHL divides players into four performance groups based on their P-L scores.

The top-tier groups include the 75–100 range, superior performers who can dominate the game with their scoring ability. The middle group is made up of 45–75 range players who can typically contribute in other ways, like providing defense or winning faceoffs. The bottom group is made up of players with a 0–45 range P-L score who are either defensive specialists or faceoff winners. In the 2016–17 season, there were 30 NHL players with a P-L score between 0 and 45. There were only five players – Filip Forsberg, Jonathan Huberdeau, Kyle Turris, Pierre-Édouard Bellemare, and Joel Eriksson Ek – who had a P-L score of 45 or more. A 45-point P-L is considered a solid mid-range score and demonstrates that a player has performed well above the average player in the league they are in. Players who score 0 point in the P-L are considered to be average performers. The 0-point score is the equivalent of an F in French Soccer or a D in Basketball.

As stated above, injuries and personnel changes are responsible for most of the fluctuations in a team’s P-L score from season to season. However, one team that stands out as an exception to this rule is the Pittsburgh Penguins. In the three seasons before the P-L, the Penguins suffered through a lot of changes to their roster. In the 2016–17 season alone, they lost seven players to retirement and six more to other teams.

In the summer of 2016, the Penguins had the second-highest P-L score in the NHL at a gaudy 92.39. The only team with a higher P-L score was the Carolina Hurricanes. Despite missing some talent in their line-up, the Penguins still managed to have a 26-point jump in their P-L score from the previous season. This was due in large part to the performance of their rookies. While the Penguins had six players score between 0 and 45 in the previous season, they had 10 players score between 0 and 45 in the 2016–17 season. This included three first-year players – Ryan Reim, Jack Studnicka, and Scott Wilson – who each had a remarkable rookie year and scored 50 or more points. This is because the P-L considers rookie players to be average, or perhaps slightly above average, based on how well they performed compared to other rookies.

How is the P-L Calculated?

The P-L is based on several key indicators including but not limited to, the number of points, assists, high-danger scoring chances, game-winning goals, and goals. These five categories are called the “key metrics”, and they account for 70% of a player’s P-L score. The five key metrics are combined using an algorithm that ranks players from 0 to 100, with 0 meaning the player is performing at the same level as expected of an average player in their league and 100 meaning the player is outperforming their teammates. In simple terms, the P-L gives an indication of how well a player is doing compared to their peers.

To come up with an overall rating for a player using the P-L, the NHL takes the average of the player’s key metrics. If a player has a goal and two assists in a game, but they have a 45% high-danger scoring chance rate, then their scoring chance percentage will be averaged with their goal percentage to arrive at a more accurate estimation of their performance. This is to ensure that the P-L is a more reliable indicator of a player’s overall performance than simply looking at their individual statistics. In the event of a tie, the overall rating from the P-L will be used to decide the winner. In the event of an identical overall rating, the NHL decides the order of preference, with the player with the higher P-L scoring having precedence.

What About Penalties?

Just like in real life, penalties in hockey can sometimes make or break a game. Before the puck is dropped for the start of the third period, there is usually some uncertainty regarding who will take what type of penalty and when they will do so. This is what makes it so intriguing to bet on hockey. You will never know how a particular call will affect the outcome of the game.

With that in mind, if you are betting on hockey, you will usually see odds listed for both teams. This is because sometimes a team wins a game despite being penalized, and sometimes they lose a game because of a penalty. It is vital to remember that while it is always the case that a penalty will hurt a team’s chances of winning, it is not always the case that it will help. So while it may seem like a good idea to take a defensive-zone penalty in the first period and then unleash a fury of 25 punches on an unsuspecting opponent in the third, this usually doesn’t work out so well for the player who took the penalty. This is because an aggressive penalty-taking strategy can sometimes backfire. After all, what is the point of hitting an opponent with 25 punches if you immediately get leveled for several minutes by a player who took the penalty?