NHL Picks: NHL Preseason Betting Strategies

Ross Benjamin

Saturday, August 31, 2013 8:36 PM UTC

Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013 8:36 PM UTC

Let's look at some betting strategies for our preseason NHL picks and see if we can't decipher how to make some winning picks.

Wagering on Preseason NHL Odds 

Let me start out by saying I’m not an advocate of NHL preseason wagering. As opposed to NFL preseason wagering where information on past histories, statistics, systems, and angles are accessible in many forms, that same type of data is scarce in regards to the NHL preseason. In the following paragraphs I will take you through what my approach is when handicapping NFL preseason contests. Then I’ll discuss whether these specific techniques are applicable or not when handicapping the NHL preseason. 

NFL Preseason versus NHL Preseason Approach

The foundation of any preseason handicapping is to access as much information on who will be playing and who won’t be. In the NFL the words I use in my analysis of a preseason contest are rotations and availability. With the exception of the next to last game of the preseason, NFL teams play their starters on a very limited basis. The thought process pertaining to this is simply to avoid key players from being injured before the regular season even begins. Even in that next to last game which is often referenced to as being a dress rehearsal, starting players may only play a half, or on occasion a couple series into the 3rd quarter. Teams very rarely game plan for an opponent and stay pretty vanilla schematically. In addition teams are fully aware of what they already have in regards to their first string players. The real evaluation of personnel is paramount for players that can add depth to the organization.  Unlike the NHL there are no minor league affiliates in the NFL. That being said, the decision on whether to keep or cut a player before the season begins is crucial. There’s very little recourse once a player is cut from the roster. The NHL has the luxury of being able to send a player to their American League affiliate if they don’t deem the player to be ready, or capable of making an immediate impact.

Stanley Cup Futures~

NHL Preseason Handicapping Foundation and Techniques

The initial step I would take if I was to handicap the NHL preseason is to find out who every team’s beat writer is. Then find out the name of the newspaper he writes for, access their website, bookmark it, and then go there on a daily basis to read his articles. Then I would proceed to follow those writers on twitter. There are times when a writer will tweet updates that are pertinent to NHL odds and your NHL picks closer to game time, and after the daily newspaper has gone to print.

The only thing comparable to NFL preseason player rotations relating to the NHL pertains to goaltending. There are many instances especially early in the preseason schedule where both goalies will see action in a game by design. Finding out who the two goalies dressing for the contest, and the plans on how they will be used is critical. The vast majority of the time coaches will be very open with the media on the day of the game pertaining to this subject since there’s not a lot at stake at this time of the year. When we get to the subject of forwards and defensemen it’s not and day compared to the NFL preseason. NHL preseason player rotations are a moot point. It’s unavoidable that teams have to use 4 lines during preseason games. If you dress a player then for the most part he will get his share of minutes throughout the course of a game. During the regular season coaches will sometimes shorten their bench to the use of just 3 lines late in a tight game. That practice isn’t recognized during the preseason. The most vital information to access if at all possible is to gather who will be dressing for that particular preseason game. You can then by doing so assess both clubs roster strength for that specific game, and combining that information collectively when applying it to the NHL odds. It will be at this point that you can uncover any possible value in the NHL odds


Depending on the amount of time you’re willing to spend, and finding the proper channels to access, there are some isolated spots in which you can find some value with a NHL preseason wager. If you don’t have that kind of time or the patience, then I would suggest waiting for the real show to begin.

Stanley Cup Sleeper Picks~

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