When you're betting on hockey, your team doesn't always have to win to beat the NHL odds. Losing by only one goal can be profitable, too. Just ask the Carolina Hurricanes.
Jason's 2015-16 record as of March 29: 2-1 ATS (0.15 units), 2-10 ML (–10.67 units), 0-1-2 Totals (–1.00 units)
Good gravy, look at that moneyline record up there. Just brutal. Twelve games may be a very small sample size, but still. We got burned on some big favorites, too, like the Washington Capitals (–214 at home when we took them) losing 4-3 to the free-falling Montreal Canadiens, and the Nashville Predators (–215 at home) dropping a 5-4 overtime decision to the New Jersey Devils. Yuck.
Maybe we should stick to the puck line when we're checking out the NHL odds boards here at the home office. Especially if contrarian betting is our bread and butter. There's just something really, really satisfying about picking a team at +1.5, and then getting paid when that team only loses by one. A team like the Carolina Hurricanes, perhaps. Or you could keep pounding Washington –1.5 and make a profit in the long run, even though most of those picks won't pan out. It's a wonderful world.
Here are the Top 5 NHL picks against the puck line:
Washington Capitals (34-41 ATS, +12.14 units)
Remember how the Anaheim Ducks finished first in the West last year despite a goal differential of plus-10? They also dumped 29.57 units on the puck line. Washington (54-16-5) is no paper tiger. The Caps have a goal differential of plus-61, or 0.77 goals per game. They don't always win, but when they do, it's often by two goals or more.
Carolina Hurricanes (47-29 ATS, +10.39 units)
The Hurricanes (33-28-15) haven't been playing very good hockey this year, but their minus-20 goal differential is better than what most of the bad teams in the league have produced. Carolina runs a tight defensive ship, allowing just 27.5 shots on goal per game – only the Predators (27.2 shots) have allowed fewer.
Dallas Stars (37-39 ATS, +9.66 units)
The Capitals may have the best goal differential in the NHL, but the Stars (45-22-9) are the highest-scoring team in the league at 3.22 goals per game. It's too bad Kari Lehtonen (.905 save percentage) and Antti Niemi (.903 SV%) have struggled this year. Dallas still has a healthy plus-29 goal differential, and plenty of upside if these goalies can get their act together.
New York Rangers (37-39 ATS, +6.03 units)
No problems with goalkeeping when you've got Henrik Lundqvist (.922 SV%) in net. But the Rangers (43-24-9) allow 30.5 shots per game, or No. 20 overall. That eats into their scoring margin quite a bit. Good thing the Blueshirts (2.84 goals per game) are still potent enough to post a plus-20 differential.
Philadelphia Flyers (44-31 ATS, +5.89 units)
Anything is possible. After skating into Thanksgiving at 7-10-5, the Flyers have fought valiantly to get into playoff position at 37-25-13, despite a goal differential of minus-3. Philadelphia doesn't have many of the earmarks we'd look for in a solid puck line team, but this rags-to-riches story has been profitable in general. Let's see how long it lasts.