#Betting101: Using Goal Differential to Spot Follow/Fade Targets

Jason Lake

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 12:33 PM UTC

Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018 12:33 PM UTC

Winning is great, but if you’re trying to make good NHL picks goal differential says a lot more about a team’s quality than win-loss records. Here’s how you can take advantage.

Hockey just isn’t fair sometimes. Of all the four major pro sports in North American betting, hockey’s the one with the least amount of scoring – and, as a result, the one where luck plays the biggest role in determining who wins and loses. A team can play a great game and still lose 1-0, or play like hot garbage and still win 5-4. It happens all the time.

All this unfairness is great for making NHL picks. Casual fans put far too much emphasis on winning, especially in a league that decides so many games by flipping a coin – excuse me, by shootout. Goal differential is a much better indicator of how well a team is playing, and how likely it is to perform in the future. When you find a team with a big gap between goal differential and won-loss record, you’ve got a potential fade or follow candidate on your hands. Let’s see who fits the bill this week.

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🔝 5️⃣

You gotta see 'em. https://t.co/J9o6Q7xRGd

— LA Kings (@LAKings) February 12, 2018
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Los Angeles Kings

Here’s an easy one right off the bat. The Kings (30-20-5) have a goal differential of plus-26, which ranks No. 7 overall, but they’re only in fourth place in the Pacific Division, behind both San Jose (plus-9) and Calgary (zero). Premium follow candidate.

Colorado Avalanche

They’re just one point behind Los Angeles at 30-21-4, with a plus-11 goal differential, but that’s only good for sixth place in the Central. Sneaky value.

Washington Capitals

The Caps (32-17-6) are back in first in the Metropolitan, but with a plus-12 goal differential this team isn’t nearly as good as it used to be. Definitely worth fade consideration.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Our defending Stanley Cup champions have moved into second behind Washington at 31-22-4 in the Metro after winning 11 of their last 15 games. But that plus-5 goal differential is m’eh at best.

As it happens, the Penguins are hosting the Kings on Thursday at 7 p.m. Eastern, so that should be worth a look on the NHL odds board. This has not been a good year for goaltender Matt Murray (.906 save percentage), who overthrew Marc-Andre Fleury as the No. 1 starter in Pittsburgh; Jonathan Quick (.921 SV%), on the other hand, is doing a fine job in L.A. this season. Those are the two projected starters for Thursday, so mark this one down on your betting calendar, and may the cylinder be with you.

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