In-Depth Betting Angles to Apply to Stanley Cup NHL Picks: Chicago Blackhawks & Jonathan Toews

Jay Pryce

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 7:17 PM UTC

Tuesday, May. 19, 2015 7:17 PM UTC

Since 2008, sports bettors backing the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL playoffs have returned a sizable profit. We offer you two trends focusing on Jonathan Toews to help you with your NHL picks!

Lifting the Stanley Cup in the 2009-2010 and 2012-2013 seasons, if you were to back the Chicago Blackhawks in every game in their seven-year consecutive playoff run to date, you would have deposited nearly a 15% return on your investment with a 65-39 playoff record at average NHL betting odds of -125. Often seeded in the top tier of the Western Conference, the Hawks takes care of business when they're expected to, tallying a record of 40-13 (75%) when closing as heavy favorites at odds of -130 or less, as opposed to a 25-25 (50%) record when backed at odds greater than this number. The dynamic duo of Jonathon Toews and Patrick Kane, who both began their NHL careers in 2007, have been the energy behind the historic franchise's recent resurgence. Signing identical eight-year, $84 million contract extensions last July, and entering the prime of their careers, it is not unfeasible to think Chicago could tack on seven more years to their playoff appearance streak. Indeed, both skaters have ranked in the top five for their squad in Point Shares, a measurement created by hockey-analytics guru Justin Kubatko to estimate the number of standings points a player contributes to his team's overall total, since beginning their Hawks careers. Although it may be uncommon to single out players in the NHL to find handicapping angles, as opposed to say basketball or baseball where one athlete can make an overwhelming difference in a contest, isolating top stars in high-leverage playoff affairs may provide us with an edge. Not only are franchise players expected to perform in these win-or-go home situations, but their past performances can serve as a benchmark to the squads overall play and clue bettors in to upcoming events.

Although Kane is the most dangerous offensive player on Chicago's roster and has become one of the NHL's top scoring leaders, we want to target the 2010 Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) winner Toews for our trends. The captain and top center has blossomed into a two-way threat who gives opposing coaches fits. Much of the puck runs through "Captain Serious," and his play is more indicative of the Blackhawks' fortunes.

Although not the league's most prolific goal scorer, Toews has lit the lamp in his career on average .39 times per game in the regular season and .31 in the playoffs. Therefore, we can expect him to score at least once in nearly every three games played. Taking this into account, if Toews has failed to score a goal against his current opponent in their last three playoff matchups (dating back to any season), then the Hawks are 36-12 (75%) with average closing odds of -129, returning a 37% ROI to savvy bettors. For the sake of over simplicity, we can read into this trend in two ways. First, we expect Toews to score a goal or more in the current contest, giving his team an offensive edge. In fact, he has scored 31% of the time in this situation, which equals his career per game mark in the playoffs exactly. In these games, the Hawks are 13-2. Surprisingly, if he is not lighting the lamp in these contests, than he returns a paltry .58 points per game, well below his .90 regular season career average, despite the Hawks tallying 3.4 goals a game. Perhaps Chicago makes adjustments to compensate for Toews' goal scoring woes, or they do not require his offensive contribution in the current team composition and series matchup. Although not quite settling at a statistical rate to encourage one to cash in their 401K and place it on the Hawks in this scenario, there may be some significance behind the angle. If one, for example, isolates the games sitting above Chicago’s -125 average playoff closing line during Toews’ tenure, which puts them at slight favorites or underdogs, than the angle is 15-6 with average odds of +120.

Our other trend focuses on backing the Hawks with our NHL picks riding Toews' recent offensive production. If the first-line center has two or more assists in his last two playoff matchups against his current foe, then Chicago is 23-8 (74%) with an average closing line of -133. For his career, Toews has averaged .50 assists per game in the regular season and .56 for the playoffs. More than doubling his per game average in the last two matchups, one can expect the center to continue to guide his line or power play unit to score. Whether riding a hot hand or over matching his opponents, Toews averages 1.1 points in his next game. In contests where the Hawks are dogs or slight betting favorites closing above -125, then the record is 9-3 with an average line of +124. Although not quite striking at a statistical rate to boost one’s confidence, I will be curious to see if this trend holds up in the future, providing an edge for bettors. Out of the 69 games combined making up the two Toews' trends, only ten games overlap, supporting the averse relationship between the angles.

The Blackhawks face off against Anaheim in game two of the Western Conference finals tonight where neither trend is in play. Keep an eye out for Toews' production, or lack thereof, as the series progresses, though. Nonetheless, Chicago will be a playoff contender for many years to come with Toews and Kane anchoring the team, so stash these angles away for a later date.

As always, use this information to support your leans, and best of luck.

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