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What Is GAA In Hockey? What Goalies Should Know

What Is Gaa In Hockey

Struggling to understand “GAA” in hockey jargon? You’re not alone. Even as a seasoned player, I was once puzzled by this three-lettered acronym. But after extensive research and countless hours on the ice, I’ve got the scoop.

Read on to know what Goals Against Average (GAA) is, how it’s calculated and why it’s important for evaluating goaltenders’ performances. Ready to decode GAA together? Let’s dive in!

Goals Against Average (GAA) in hockey is a statistic used to measure the performance of goaltenders.

Definition of GAA

GAA, or Goals Against Average, is a key statistic in hockey. It’s the measure of how many goals a goalie allows per 60 minutes of play. It focuses on goaltenders and helps to evaluate their performance during a game.

The calculation for GAA involves dividing the total number of goals allowed by the goalie by the total minutes played, then multiplied by 60. This provides an average goal count over a full hour-long game.

So when looking at this stat, always remember – lower is better! A lower GAA means your team’s goaltender has managed to keep more pucks away from net while playing, which could be crucial for winning games!

Calculation of GAA


Understanding how to compute the Goals Against Average (GAA) in hockey is essential for any learner of the sport. Let’s get the process down pat.

  1. Start with identifying the number of goals a goaltender has allowed during game time.
  2. Multiply this number by 60, representing each minute in a standard hockey game.
  3. Divide the result by the total minutes the goaltender has actually played in the game.

Interpreting GAA in Hockey

GAA is an important statistic for goaltenders as it reflects their average number of goals allowed per game.

Good GAA for Goaltenders

In the world of professional hockey, a good GAA for goaltenders typically ranges from 1.85 to 2.10. Lower values symbolize superior performance, as they signify fewer goals conceded on average per game.

However, using GAA alone cannot paint the full picture of a goalie’s effectiveness. It is equally important to consider other statistics such as save percentage which ideally should be at least 0.915%.

This allows us to have a more comprehensive evaluation of a goaltender’s performance in the NHL and beyond.

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Comparison Between Playoff & Non-playoff Teams


In the context of hockey, particularly in the National Hockey League (NHL), there is a noticeable difference between the Goals Against Average (GAA) of playoff teams and non-playoff teams.

Team Type



Playoff Teams

Lower GAA

Teams that make it to the playoffs typically have goaltenders with lower GAA scores. This indicates a stronger defensive performance, limiting opponents’ scoring opportunities.

Non-Playoff Teams

Higher GAA

Non-playoff teams usually have a higher GAA, which suggests that their goaltenders allow more goals on average per game. This often reflects weaker defenses and less effective goaltending.

Interestingly, some goaltenders show better performance against playoff teams than non-playoff teams. This is the case with Gustavsson, who has a better GAA when facing playoff teams.

Using GAA as a solo determinant of performance can be misleading because it doesn’t consider factors like save percentage (SV%) and goal differential (DIFF). 

Differentiating between playoff and non-playoff teams highlights the influence of these variables. For the last ten 82-game seasons in the NHL, SV%, GAA, and GSAA have fallen sequentially along the playoff bubble, emphasizing their interconnectedness and impact on overall team performance.

So while GAA is a valuable statistic, it should be considered alongside other measures when evaluating goaltender and team performances.

Importance of Save Percentage (SV%) and Goal Differential (DIFF)

Save percentage (SV%) and goal differential (DIFF) are crucial metrics in evaluating a goalie’s performance in hockey. SV% measures the percentage of shots a goalie stops out of the total shots faced, indicating their effectiveness in goalkeeping and skill level assessment.

A higher save percentage means the goalie is more proficient at stopping shots and preventing goals. On the other hand, goal differential provides insight into how many goals a team scores compared to how many they concede when a particular goaltender is on the ice.

By considering both save percentage and goal differential together, we get a more comprehensive understanding of a goalie’s performance rather than just relying on goals against average (GAA).

Controversies Surrounding GAA

Some argue that using GAA as the sole measure of goaltender performance is flawed.

Arguments against using GAA as a sole measure of goaltender performance

Critics of using Goals Against Average (GAA) as the sole measure of goaltender performance argue that it can be misleading and ineffective. GAA only calculates the number of goals allowed by a goaltender over 60 minutes of play, without considering important factors like the quality of shots faced or the defensive support from their team.

It’s like showing someone the score of a hockey game without providing any context or details. While GAA provides some insight into a goalie’s ability to prevent goals, it doesn’t give a complete picture.

That’s why other statistics, such as save percentage (SV%), are considered more comprehensive evaluations of goaltender performance.

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Alternative Statistics to Consider

When evaluating a goalie’s performance in hockey, there are alternative statistics to consider. These statistics can provide additional insights and a more comprehensive view of a goalie’s abilities. Here are some alternative statistics to consider:

  1. Save Percentage (SV%): SV% is the percentage of shots on goal that a goalie saves. It is an important statistic because it reflects a goalie’s ability to stop pucks and prevent goals.
  2. Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA): GSAA measures how many goals a goalie saved compared to the league average. It takes into account the quality and quantity of shots faced by the goalie.
  3. Quality Start Percentage (QS%): QS% measures the percentage of games in which a goalie achieves a “quality start.” A quality start is when a goalie allows two goals or fewer while facing at least 20 shots.
  4. High-Danger Save Percentage (HDSV%): HDSV% measures a goalie’s save percentage on high-danger scoring chances, which are shots taken from high-scoring areas on the ice.
  5. Goals For/60 Minutes (GF/60) and Goals Against/60 Minutes (GA/60): These statistics measure how many goals a team scores or allows per 60 minutes of gameplay with a particular goaltender in net.


GAA in hockey is an important statistic that measures the average number of goals a goalie allows per game. It provides insight into a goaltender’s performance and can be used to compare them against other goalies in the league.

While GAA is not the sole measure of a goalie’s abilities, it is a valuable tool in evaluating their effectiveness on the ice. As aspiring hockey players and fans, understanding GAA will enhance our appreciation for this crucial position in the sport.

FAQs about GAA in Hockey

GAA stands for Goals Against Average in hockey. It is a statistic used to measure the average number of goals a goaltender allows per game.

To calculate GAA, divide the total number of goals allowed by the goaltender by the total number of minutes played, and multiply it by 60 (to convert from per minute to per game average).

GAA is important because it gives an indication of a goaltender’s ability to prevent goals and their overall effectiveness on the ice. A lower GAA generally indicates a more successful and reliable goaltender.

A good GAA can vary depending on factors such as team defense and playing style, but generally, a GAA below 2.50 is considered very good, while anything above 3.00 may indicate room for improvement defensively or with the individual performance of the goalie themselves.

Save percentage in hockey is a statistic that measures the percentage of shots on goal that a goaltender saves. It is calculated by dividing the number of saves by the total number of shots on goal. A higher save percentage indicates a goaltender who is more effective at stopping shots.

The worst GAA in NHL history belongs to Darren Jensen, who had a GAA of 6.07 during the 1989-1990 season. Other notable high GAA seasons include Jeff Hackett with 5.86 in 1990-1991 and Michel Belhumeur with 5.55 in 1974-1975.

The best goals against average in hockey history are held by legendary goaltenders such as Dominik Hasek, Ken Dryden, and Martin Brodeur. These goalies consistently maintained low goals against averages throughout their careers, solidifying their status as some of the greatest in the sport.

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