NHL Average Goals per Game from 1917‑18 to 2012‑13
Average number of goals scored in an NHL game has gone through ups and downs during NHL history. The charts below show a time series on the Goals per Game measure for all skaters as well as forwards and defensemen separately. Numbers represent the total number of goals scored by both teams during a single game.
In the charts, the 1980s clearly stand out as a high scoring era. After mid 1990s the game has entered a low scoring era that was last seen during the 1950s. The number of goals has been consistently slightly higher during the regular season than in the playoffs.
Percentage of Goals Scored by Forwards and Defensemen
The second chart shows the percentage of goals scored by NHL forwards and defensemen. This ratio has been remarkably stable during the league history suggesting that the role of the defense in creating offense has changed little over time. Over the years, forwards have scored between 80‑85 percent of NHL goals, while defensemen have accounted for the remaning 15‑20 percent.
How was this calculated?
Goals per game is calculated simply by dividing the total number of goals scored during the season by the total number of games played during that same season. Number of goals is calculated from individual player statistics, which means that tie breaking shootout goals are not included in the total.