What Is a Good Save Percentage in Hockey?

Posted on June 19, 2024 by Dan Kent
Goalie Subs Hockey

Arguably, the goaltender is the most important position on any hockey team. Championships are won and lost on the goalie's ability to give their team the best chance to score more goals than they allow and winning the game. 

Hockey is a fast game, and mistakes are made in droves throughout a game. This is why a team's momentum and enthusiasm are hinged on the ability of their goalie to step up when it is time and make a big save, turning the play around or covering the puck, allowing their team to get a much-needed break and face-off to reset. 

A battle for every team is rebounding from a goal against. If their goalie doesn't let that happen very often, it is a battle they won't have to face as much and a boost for the whole team that can then capitalize on that momentum to get a win.

What is goalie save percentage?

Save percentage calculates the number of shots a goalie faces relative to the number of saves. It is one of the most critical statistics assigned to goaltenders. It is simply the number of saves divided by the total shots the goaltender faces. In short, the save percentage shows the percent chance that a goalie has historically made a save or not.

This is the universal calculation used to compare a goalie's quality of play equally, and this statistic is specific to each goalie and indicates their performance only.

This number is shown in decimal form, rounded to the 3rd digit. For example, if a goalie saves 95 of 110 shots, their save percentage would be 0.864. If they save 90 of 100 shots, their save percentage would be 0.900.

What is a good save percentage in hockey?

A goaltender's save percentage will depend highly on the league the goaltender is playing in, and the team a goaltender is on. For example, a top-end recreational goaltender may have a save percentage of 0.880. In contrast, a top-level goaltender in the NHL could have a save percentage of 0.930.

The average save percentage of the NHL in 2022-23 was .904, with 81414 saves and 7796 allowed goals throughout the season. So, in the National Hockey League, you must post 0.905 or higher to be considered above average. Depending on your definition of "good," a good save percentage can vary. I would consider it to be anything 0.912 and higher.

In addition, a top-level goaltender on a weaker team that leaks high-quality scoring chances may have a lower save percentage than a mediocre goaltender on a top-tier team. This is why goaltenders are difficult to evaluate based on simple metrics, as they're heavily team-dependent.

What is a bad save percentage in hockey?

Any save percentage under .900 is less than ideal. This is considered "weak," but this stat alone does not show everything and may not represent the team's success or lack thereof of that team. A general rule of thumb across the internet would show a save percentage below .905 is relatively poor, and you won't see too many teams winning championships with goaltending weaker than this.

Who has the lowest save percentage in the NHL?

The lowest save percentage in the NHL last season was .871. That statistic was held by Vancouver Canucks goalie Spencer Martin. However, Martin was not the only goalie to receive a save percentage under .900. 

Who has the worst save percentage in NHL history?

The worst NHL save percentage in history is a save percentage of .867 based on a minimum of 250 games played. This save percentage was held by Doug Soetaert, who played 12 seasons in the league. 

Who leads the NHL in save percentage? 

The NHL save percentage leader after the most recent season goes to Linus Ullmark of the Boston Bruins after his 2022-23 season save percentage of .938, with Filip Gustavson falling just shy with a percentage of .931. These two goalies led the league with NHL elite status this past season.

What goalie has the best save percentage in history?

All-time save percentage leaders in NHL history are led by Dominik Hasek, with a save percentage of .922. This is tied with Ken Dryden, but Dryden has 397 games played versus Hasek's 735 games. 

Hasek is in an elite group of goaltenders and will likely go down as one of the best of all time.

How many saves is good for goalie?

As long as the goalie saves enough shots to keep their team ahead on the scoreboard when that buzzer goes is all that matters. The higher the goalie's save percentage, the better. 

Typically, a goalie whose save percentage is above 0.920 is considered elite. On the other hand, below .900 and they are considered below average.

This would lead a goalie to consistently save nine or more shots out of every ten they face to be considered average at best. Goalies could face upwards of 50 shots per game in which they would have to save 45 or more shots to keep a save ratio that supports a .900. 

So, if an answer is needed, I'd say that a goaltender that can make, at minimum, 9 out of 10 saves.  

What is the average goalie saves per game?

With statistics going back to 1955-56, StatMuse has average saves per game with a total of 119057 games at 25.03. In the most recent NHL season, a goalie's average saves per game was 26.49. 

What NHL goalie has the most saves?

In NHL history, as per hockeywriters.com, the most shots per game recorded has been 85. This record is held by Joonas Korpisalo, set in August 2020. He remains the only goaltender to face over 80 shots in a single game. 

In 1936, it is rumored that a goalie named Normie Smith saved a total of 92 shots in one of the longest games in history. However, it's not on record.

Goalies who have faced 70 or more shots have been repeated multiple times, but the first occurrence on record was in the 1986-87 season. Since then, the list of goalies to face 70 or more shots in a single game includes Ron Tugnutt (twice), Mikhail Shtalenkov, Dominik Hasek, Roberto Luongo, Ed Belfour, Kelly Hrudey, Igor Shesterken, and, of course, Joonas Korpisalo. 

Who has the most saves in an NHL shutout?

Hall of Fame goalie Dominik Hasek has on record the highest faced shot total in a shutout. In his first season as a starting goalie, Hasek led his team, the Buffalo Sabres, to a 70-shot shutout, 1-0 play-off victory after a gruelling four overtime periods. This just highlights the importance of the position. This game could have taken a different turn with just one puck beating Hasek, but he allowed his team to be the victor by stopping all 70 shots he faced.

What is the longest NHL save streak?

Previous to what the NHL considers the modern era, the longest save streak was 460:49 minutes played without letting a goal in. It happened in 1927-28 by goaltender Alec Connell playing with the Ottawa Senators. This holds the record for six consecutive shutouts for a goaltender. 

In modern-era NHL record keeping, thirteen years ago, Brian Boucher started a five consecutive game shutout streak lasting 332:01, which still stands as the record today.

Dan Kent

About the author

Growing up in a hockey hotbed (Calgary, Alberta. And yes, I'm an Oiler fan), I decided to put my love and knowledge of the game to work. I started at five and am still playing today into my early 30s. By acquiring Brave Stick Hockey and rebranding it to Big Shot Hockey in 2023, I plan to teach people about this great game and educate them on the best equipment and history of the game. On a career level, I am in finance, running one of the largest financial websites in Canada, Stocktrades.ca.

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