After all, there are no point spreads to play like in football betting orbasketball betting, there’s less national coverage of it in the United States – both ona game-to-game basis as well as on Sportscenter– and the analysis just isn’t as prominently available to the naked eye.
But let me be your Jim Cramer and I’ll help you out withfour basic tips to betting the NHL so that you can make some mad money. Boo ya.
Stick With HotTeams, Avoid Cold Teams
If you’re the type of guy that likes to bet a team becausethey are “due” to win, or because you feel that they are finally ready to snapout of their six-game losing streak just because, then hockey betting is notfor you.
If we’ve learned anything in the NHL, it’s that you stickwith the trends.
If a team is struggling, bet against them. If a team ishot, bet with them.
Betting on a team to win because they are “due” couldhave cost you a lot of money last season as the Ottawa Senators had a stretchwhere they lost 19 of 21 games. The Colorado Avalanche, who were once 25-18-6,hit a brick wall and posted a stretch where they won just once in 21 contests. Meanwhile,the Washington Capitals had a nine-game winning streak and the PittsburghPenguins strung together a 12-game winning streak.
Stick with the streaks; don’t bet against them.
Facing WinningTeams & Losing Teams
While it’s not exactly a stat – or trend – you can lookfor in the first half of the season, it’s definitely something you can useafter the All-Star Break as well as in the playoffs.
Take a close look at how the team you are betting on faresagainst teams above .500 and teams below .500; it’s a telling sign as towhether or not they are a paper tiger.
Teams like the Capitals feasted on low-level opponentsthis season but were in the .500 range when it came to facing winning teams.That’s one reason why it’s easy to understand how they looked so good in thefirst round of the playoffs against the feeble New York Rangers, but werequickly swept out of the second round by the much more formidable Tampa BayLightning.
Teams like the Flyers, Penguins, San Jose Sharks andVancouver Canucks played well against all types of competition whereas squadslike the Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes and Calgary Flames labored against eliteteams.
It’s a very telling split stats that is very useful oncewe’ve gathered a first half of evidence.
A Few Key FactorsFor Totals
Hockey is one of the few sports where the over/under foreach contest is virtually the same across the board. In the NHL these days,you’ll usually see a total of 5.5 and on some occasions a lower total of 5.0 ifthe game is expected to be low scoring or a total of 6.0 if it’s expect to seesome fireworks. Since the numbers are always in the same neighborhood, all itmeans is that as hockey handicappers, we have to look at the other factors that willeither lead a game to see six or more goals or five or less.
Here are a few key variables to examine:
- Goaltending is the key to a total, so make sure you knowabout who’s between the pipes for the game. Is it the starter? Is he hot orcold? Is he getting the night off in favor of the backup? Does he have a goodtrack record against the opponent? These are all things to consider whenevaluating the goaltender, which is the top priority when it comes to bettingthe total.
- Take a look at the special teams matchup. Nowadays,there is a high premium placed on special teams as the referees tend to callthe games far more strictly than before the “new NHL” came to fruition after the lockout. It’simportant to gauge the matchup of one team’s power play against their opponent’spenalty kill and vice-versa. If both teams are strong in the face-off circleand adept at the penalty kill, that’s likely to lead to an under. It’s nocoincidence that the Colorado Avalanche finished with the league’s worstpenalty kill percentage (18.5) and also played more overs (50-31 O/U) than anyother team in the NHL.
- Lastly, understanding the coaching styles are crucial tototals betting. Teams like the New Jersey Devils (24-45) and WashingtonCapitals (23-58 O/U), who are coached to play tight, defensive games, are morelikely to trend under. Meanwhile, teams that are much more offensive-minded andfree skating, like the Tampa Bay Lighting (45-36 O/U) and the San Jose Sharks(42-36 O/U) are more likely to go over.
Home Goalie VersusRoad Goalie
While home-away split stats are often used when it comesto handicapping baseball – in particularly, the home-away splits of thestarting pitchers – but it’s not as widely used in the NHL for goaltenders. Ifyou want to be a successful hockey handicapper, you’ll start putting it to gooduse.
Roberto Luongo is a good example as he became a lightningrod for criticism in the postseason due to his home performances versus hisproduction on the road. But at a closer look, that was just a continuation ofwhat he did in the regular season.
At home, he had a winning percentage of .656, a savepercentage of .937 and a GAA of 1.90. On the road, he had a winning percentageof .607, save percentage of .917 and a GAA of 2.30.
Here’s a few other examples:
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
Home: 22-11-5, 2.08 GAA, .932 SV%
Away: 16-17-1, 2.67 GAA, .913 SV%
Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary Flames
Home: 22-11-4, 2.47 GAA, .903 SV%
Away: 15-13-2, 2.81 GAA, .909 SV%
Jaroslav Halak, St. Louis Blues
Home: 17-10-5, 2.10 GAA, .923 SV%
Away: 10-11-2, 3.01 GAA, .894 SV%
Remember to keep an eye on how the goalies fare both homeand away, and play the scenarios accordingly.