This is a question only about the statistical representation of power plays.

When looking at team statistics (example), there are numbers that describe teams efficiency in power plays and penalty killing.

In the linked example Denmark had an advantage 29 times and scored 10 goals thus having 34.48% powerplay efficiency. But how do they get the "29"? It is clearly not the amount of penalties as in the penalty killing table Canada has had 29 disadvantages while actually having earned 35 penalties.

It is obvious that a 5-man team playing 2 minutes against team that has one player sent off on a minor penalty is a powerplay, but I am concerned about some trickier cases:

  • Player a (team X) is sent off for 2 minutes. After 1:50 (game time) player b (team X) is sent off. After 1:50 (game time) player c (team X) is sent off etc. Does this all counts as a single disadvantage situation? Can a team play 4v5 for 50 minutes and have only one penalty killed?

  • Player a (team X) is sent off for 5 minutes. A minute later player b (team Y) is sent off for 2 minutes. Does team X get two disadvantage situations based on a single penalty? It would seem wrong that you have more powerplays just because a 5 minute penalty was split in half by a minor penalty on the opposing team.


As this question is pretty much a duplicate, I will specify that I am interested to find the interpretation that is used by IIHF as in the linked example. The IIHF rulebook defines some of the statistics, but does not define this one.

I initially asked without specifying IIHF rules because I expected that there would be a common and accepted understanding of the statistic.

I was aware of the NCAA rulebook, I just don't really believe that IIHF tournaments and different national leagues follow the NCAA definitions and there should be either the accepted or at least the IIHF definition of counting advantageous/disadvantageous situations.

  • Seems a better, more straightforward metric would indeed just be goals per 2 minutes of 1 man advantage power play time. If sabermetrics type work has gotten into hockey, I'd be quite convinced they'd be using data like that rather than the quirky nature of the given statistic :-/ Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 22:18

1 Answer 1


You are considered on a power play when you have the advantage of one player for any time during a game. Whether it is 1 second, 10 seconds, or 2-full minutes, it does not matter. So to get back to your example, where Denmark is 10 out of 29 on the power play. This means they scored 10 goals while the other team had less players than they did on the ice. 6 on 5 does not count as a power play though.

Also, you can earn a penalty but not be considered on a power play. For example, you can get a major penalty where you fight against an opponent. Both players will get a penalty in this case and no man-advantage will occur. Still counts as a penalty. Two players from each opposition could get minors and the play would go 4-on-4 for two minutes. In this case, there would not be a power play opportunity.

And no you would not get two power plays because of the split time on power play. A five minute would typically be because of "Boarding" or "Illegal check". This would only be counted as one power play.

So the wrap it up, a power play is when you have a man-advantage for any given amount of time during a game. The NCAA statistics rules define "Teams are on a power play when they have at least a one-player advantage on the ice for any amount of time." (section 8).

  • Thanks. So what exactly should be counted in the two tricky cases I mentioned? If the "Illegal check" 5 min major is interrupted by 2 minutes of 4-on-4 is it counted as two powerplays or one? And does chained powerplays count as one?
    – Džuris
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 0:18
  • A major penalty interrupted would be counted as one power play I believe. This is a tricky case and a rule book or an official would be able to answer that. Chained power plays count for the number of penalties taken. The first penalty is a power play as long as it is 5 on 4 for any amount of time. Then, the second penalty is taken at 1:50 of the first penalty which makes it 5-3 for 10 seconds but 5-4 for the rest of the penalty. That counts as another power play. Does that make sense?
    – 12Lappie
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 14:03
  • 1
    Unfourtunaly, the IIHF rulebook does not define these details. I will try to contact some IIHF officials in hope for an authorative answer.
    – Džuris
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 17:34

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