What is a Point in Hockey? A Comprehensive Guide For Beginners

What is a point in hockey?

We have a user-friendly guide that breaks it all down for you. 

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Key Takeaways

Player Points

In hockey, a ‘point’ for a player means they have either scored a goal or assisted in scoring a goal. The sum of a player’s goals and assists is what constitutes their ‘points’ earned.

Team Points

Teams earn ‘points’ for winning games. In leagues like the NHL, two points are received for a win and one point for losing in overtime or a shootout. The points determine the ranking of a team in the league standings.

‘Point’ as a Position

‘Point’ can also refer to a specific spot on the ice, typically occupied by a defenseman, just inside the blue line in the offensive (scoring) zone. This position is crucial during power plays.

Goals vs Points

A goal is when a player strikes the puck past the goal line of the opposing team, counting as one point. Assists, given for contributing to the scoring of a goal, also count as one point.

‘Points’ and Assists

In a game, up to two players can be granted assists (i.e., points) if they passed the puck to the scorer, resulting in a goal without an opposing player’s intervention.

Record for Most Points in a NHL Season

Wayne Gretzky holds the record with 215 points in the 1985-86 season

Breaking Down ‘Points’ in Hockey for Beginners

If you’re new to hockey, you might be a bit confused about the term ‘point’. Don’t worry, we’re going to break it down for you.

Player Points

First, let’s talk about points for players. In hockey, whenever a player scores a goal or helps someone else score a goal (this is known as an assist), they get a ‘point’. So, if you hear someone say that a player has lots of ‘points’, it means they have scored a lot of goals or given a lot of assists, or both!

Team Points

Next up, teams also get ‘points,’ but their points come from winning games. In leagues like the NHL, if a team wins a game, they get two points. If they lose in overtime or a shootout (which happens if the game is tied after regulation time), they get one point. The more points a team has, the higher they climb in the league standings.

hockey team points

‘Position’ On The Ice

Finally, ‘point’ can also be a position on the ice. You’ll often hear about a defenseman standing at ‘the point’, particularly during power plays which is when one team has more players on the ice than the other. This position is just inside the blue line in the offensive (scoring) zone.

So, when you hear ‘point’ in a hockey conversation, it could mean points earned by players for goals and assists, points earned by teams from winning games, or a spot on the ice. 

Difference between a Goal and a Point in Hockey

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In an ice hockey game, a player can score points in two different ways – by scoring a goal and by making an assist. A goal, rewarded when a player strikes the puck past the goal line of the opposing team, counts as one point, whereas assists, which are given for helping the goals, also count as one point. As such, the term “point” in hockey refers to the sum of an individual player’s goals and assists, underlining their offensive contribution to the team’s success. Throughout the National Hockey League (NHL) history, many top players, such as Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, have amassed impressive point totals thanks to their offensive prowess.

Getting Three Points in NHL

In traditional hockey standings, an NHL team earns two points for a win, whether they win in regulation time, overtime, or shootouts. Likewise, they obtain one point for an overtime loss and zero points for a regulation loss. However, some international hockey leagues use a three-point game system in which teams nab three points for a regulation win, two points for an overtime win, and one point for an overtime loss. This system might cause some confusion amongst new viewers unfamiliar with the point allocation system outside the NHL.

The Point Position in Hockey

In hockey parlance, “the point” might also refer to a particular position on the ice. This is located just inside the blue line in the offensive zone. Players at the point – commonly defensemen – have a strategic role; they either need to shoot the puck on net or distribute it to their offensive players, in both cases aiming to create scoring chances for their team. This position is vital during power plays, wherein the defensive skills of the “point men” immensely contribute to the team’s ability to convert a man advantage into valuable goals.

Points and Assists in Hockey

An assist, as previously mentioned, counts as a point in hockey. Each time a player scores a goal, up to two of his teammates who passed the puck to him immediately beforehand, in the same play without an opposing player intervening, can be granted assists. The primary assist denotes the last pass to the scorer, while a secondary assist indicates the penultimate pass. While not as spotlighted as goals, assists are equally significant in hockey stats and impact a player’s point total.

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Recap and Closing

Understanding what a point is in hockey and how it’s calculated provides a comprehensive lens into the game and offers a deeper appreciation for the skills and strategies employed by your favorite NHL teams and players. Whether it’s the art of scoring goals, the strategic positioning on the ice, the finesse of delivering the puck for maximum point shots, or the sheer joy of witnessing a hat trick unfold, every facet of this game has it’s unique charm.

In the end, it all boils down to the numbers. Who holds the record for the most points in a single NHL season? That would be Wayne Gretzky, who amassed an astonishing 215 points in the 1985-86 season. That encapsulates what a point in hockey represents – a measurable testament to offensive skill, and, ultimately, a critical factor in a team’s pursuit of the Stanley Cup.

Interested in more advanced NHL Stats? Take a look at our Advanced Hockey Stats Guide.

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