Betting Tips for a Shortened NHL Regular Season
A normal NHL regular season is an 82-game marathon to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but this season due to an extended labor dispute, it will be a 48-game sprint to the postseason. In light of the shortened season, the following are a few things to keep in mind when making your Hockey Picks during the shortened schedule.
Study the Schedule
The NHL has yet to release the actual schedule for the shortened season, but there are a couple of very important things to take note of once they do. First, look for any extended road trips in the first few weeks. Many of these players have been sitting around for the last four months, so it is going to take some time to get their skating legs back. If a team is strapped with three or more road games in-a-row right out of the gate, they could be a strong play to fade after the first one or two games.
Since the majority of the games will be played within the conference, there will be familiar matchups on the schedule every night. Make note of which teams have played the best against both conference and division opponents. For example, last season the New York Rangers had the best record against the Eastern Conference (41-18-5) and the Atlantic Division (15-7-2). The Vancouver Canucks had the best record against the Western Conference at 40-16-8 with Nashville a close second at 40-19-5. The teams with the worst record against its conference were the Montreal Canadiens (24-28-12) against the East and the Columbus Blue Jackets (23-37-4) against the West.
Play the Favorites
Over the course of an 82-game schedule, even the best teams in the league are bound to go through dry spells and mini-slumps. With the schedule being just about cut in half, the cream should quickly rise to the top as each win becomes all that more important to positioning in the playoffs.
The top teams in the East according to Bovada’s latest NHL odds to win the conference are the Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins at 4/1 followed by the Philadelphia Flyers at 7/1 and the Boston Bruins at 15/2. Bringing up the rear in the East is the New York Islanders at 35/1 followed by the Winnipeg Jets at 33/1.
Turning to the West, the Canucks are favored to win the conference at 9/2 with the Chicago Blackhawks and the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings a close second at 13/2. The teams at the bottom of this list are Columbus at 60/1 followed by the Colorado Avalanche and the Calgary Flames at 25/1.
Offense over Defense
With the long four-month layoff, it could take awhile for defenses to catch-up with the offenses while players skate themselves back into shape. Goalies will not be nearly as sharp without logging the necessary practice time, so goals should be easier to come by in the early going. This makes the OVER a very attractive bet especially when it comes to teams that already know how to put the puck in the net are involved.
Last season, the Penguins finished the regular season at the top of this list with an average of 3.33 goals a game. Add in the fact that this season Sidney Crosby will be in the lineup from Day 1 after missing a substantial amount of games at the beginning of last season and Pittsburgh should be even more proficient at lighting-up the scoreboard. Boston and Philadelphia were next on this list with 3.17 goals. Ottawa, Chicago, and Vancouver were also high on the list with close to three goals a game.
The team at the top of the list with the most porous defense was the Tampa Bay Lightning, who gave-up an average of 3.39 goals a game. There were three other teams that gave-up more than three goals a game; the Toronto Maple Leafs (3.16), the Blue Jackets (3.13) and the Islanders (3.06). Keep these few things in mind, and you should show some success with your NHL picks.
We're so excited that some of the NHL season will take place! Good luck with your sports picks for the next 48 games!