Our NHL handicapping expert shares one of the vital tools he uses in his daily quest to place winning NHL picks. Join us in reading this extremely insightful sports betting article.
NHL Special Teams Efficiency Ratings
One of the key components that I’ve incorporated when handicapping the NHL is using what I refer to as special team ratings. The equation is quite simple. I take the percentage of times that a specific team converts on their power play attempts, and add that number to the percentage in which they kill off power play chances by their opponents. I’ve illustrated an example below.
Example: Last season the Boston Bruins were successful in scoring a goal on 17.8% of their power play attempts, and they also denied the opposition from scoring on 82.0% of their man advantage opportunities. By adding the two percentage numbers of 82.0 and 17.8 we arrive at a sum of 99.8. We’ve now established a special teams rating of 99.8 to the Bruins. This takes a bit of diligence to keep up on since each team’s rating will be altered on a game-to-game basis.
How to use the Ratings to Handicap the NHL
I’ve found these ratings to become more accurate as the season progresses. Through vast experience, I’ve arrived at these conclusions since implementing this handicapping tool into a part of my arsenal six years ago.
There’s definitely a direct correlation between a club’s special teams rating, and their actual spot in the standings. Let’s use my ratings on 1/23/2015 to exemplify the process. The top four teams in terms of ratings at that time were Detroit (110.0), Chicago (107.4), Vancouver (107.0), and St. Louis (106.7). Those four teams were a combined 112-55-18 at that juncture of the season. Contrarily, let’s take a look at who were the bottom two teams on that date. Buffalo (83.7) and Edmonton (93.4) combined to go a dismal 26-56-12 at that juncture. The numbers don’t lie and were closely aligned with a team’s position in the standings on most occasions.
These are clubs that have a very good special teams rating, and they’re installed as a money line underdog according to NHL odds, versus an opponent with a decidedly inferior number. I find these particular teams to be a superb betting value for one of my NHL picks on the majority of those occasions. Let me use a hypothetical example. Using that same date of 1/23/15, if Detroit (110.0) was on the road to play the Islanders (93.4), in all likelihood, and barring unforeseen circumstances at that time, the Islanders would’ve been installed as a money line favorite. Based on Detroit having a special team rating that was +16.6 better than the Islanders, it becomes a foundational indicator for money line underdog value.
My experience has shown me that if a team possesses a very good record, but has a subpar special teams rating, then buyer beware. Some specific examples of those scenarios when using the 1/23/2015 date would’ve included the aforementioned New York Islanders (93.4) and the Nashville Predators (94.1). Those two teams had combined to go 61-24-6 at that time. Heading into 1/23/2015, the Islanders were atop the Metropolitan Division standings, and the Nashville Predators led the Central Division. All due respect to their accomplishments at that point, but I would’ve been very skeptical on placing my money on either of those teams to win the Stanley Cup at that exact moment. I would’ve especially avoided Islanders at that time, they were listed at +1000 to win the Stanley Cup, and those odds made them the fourth best favorite on the board, despite ranking 28th in the NHL with a special team rating of 93.4, which by the way was the same identical number as an Edmonton Oilers team which posted dismal 12-26-9 record on that date. In hindsight, both Nashville and the Islanders were eventually eliminated in their 2015 first round playoff series.