NHL Betting: Is It Time To Fade The Washington Capitals?

Jay Pryce

Sunday, January 10, 2016 3:38 PM GMT

Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016 3:38 PM GMT

The Capitals own a 1.05 average margin of victory through the first half of the season. Expect it to come down, & catch value fading the league-leading team before bettors and books adjust.

The Washington Capitals are off to a torrid start in the 2015-2016 NHL season, going 31-7-3 with 65 points through the first half of the year following a 4-3 overtime victory against division rivals Rangers Saturday night. Most impressive with Washington's insane start is its 1.05 average margin of victory, most of any team in the league. One can expect this figure to decline and the Caps to cool off in the second half of the regular season. Bettors may find some value catching them on their downturn.

Disregarding the strike-shortened 2012-2013 lockout season, in which the league scheduled just 48 games per franchise, teams have amassed a one-plus goal margin at the halfway point only 11 times: Blues (2013), Blackhawks (2008, 2009, 2013), Bruins (2008, 2011), Canucks (2010), Sharks (2008), Red Wings (2007), Ducks (2006) and Sabres (2006). None of these squads closed out the regular season with as high a differential. In fact, just two teams overall, the Bruins (2013) and Capitals (2009), finished the year with a one-plus goal margin in the last decade. The top average margin of victory over this span is .896. For what it is worth, the Blackhawks (2009), Red Wings (2007), and Ducks (2006) are the only three of this group to lift the Stanley Cup.

Fading these one-plus margin teams blindly in the second half of the year has returned roughly 11 percent on one’s investment since 2006. I have not analyzed key injuries or other circumstances surrounding each team, but assume wear and tear, luck, and other conditions eventually cause them to regress to figures that are more normal to league averages. What sports investors are hoping to catch is the betting market overrating these franchises, slow to react to any decline. All of these teams eventually make the playoffs, but they are not invincible.

Only one team (Canucks, 2010) failed to return a profit, though some of the gain was small on a year-to-year basis. Below is a listing of the teams, their second-half record, average opponent closing price, and profit percentage:

 

Season

Team

2nd-Half Record

Avg. Price Against

Profit %

2013

Blackhawks

19-22

139

27.6

2013

Blues

23-18

150

3.8

2011

Bruins

21-20

134

15.4

2010

Canucks

27-14

151

-12.7

2009

Blackhawks

24-17

163

6.6

2008

Sharks

22-19

185

19.5

2008

Bruins

23-18

161

8.6

2008

Blackhawks

22-19

136

12.3

2007

Red Wings

24-17

168

10.9

2006

Sabres

24-17

158

0.5

2006

Ducks

20-21

157

28.2

Looking further into the data, January and February returned the most profit as power-ranking models and sports books begin to catch up to potential downturns after several weeks. By April, fading these teams is all but neutralized in the market, but not always.

If a bettor does not want to deal with the grind of fading the Caps 41 games in a row, a simpler—and perhaps more lucrative—proposition is to back their longer-priced opponents, particularly when Washington is favored by -200 or more. Mismatches on paper, these frequently public-backed matchups overvalue chalk and create inefficiencies in the market. Bettors often pair such “sure-thing” tickets into parlays and other exotic wagers. When our high-margin favorites lay a price of -200 or more, profits jump to 38 percent over the 10-year span backing the underdogs. Every team in each season showed a return in this scenario:

 

Season

Team

Record >= -200

Avg. Price Against

Profit %

2013

Blackhawks

4-4

206

51.2

2013

Blues

6-4

216

18.7

2011

Bruins

2-3

210

84.0

2010

Canucks

7-4

218

14.5

2009

Blackhawks

7-4

243

21.0

2008

Sharks

12-7

260

19.8

2008

Bruins

8-4

245

16.8

2008

Blackhawks

3-6

214

112.8

2007

Red Wings

8-6

243

50.1

2006

Sabres

8-4

237

3.2

2006

Ducks

6-6

257

79.3

The Caps take on the Senators tonight, and prices on the NHL odds boards are opening at -200. They have the Sabres and Blue Jackets, each sporting a league-worst 34 points, scheduled in two of their next five games. Bettors can expect Washington to find long prices in both of these meetings as well.

As always, use this information to support your NHL picks and best of luck!

Jay Pryce

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