Key Factors When Handicapping Ice Hockey

No game is a “Lock” and if anyone tells you different they are lying.

Like all sports, there are a lot of variables in Hockey that you can’t control. Limit your number of bets in Hockey and you will have a better chance of having a winning season. Among the major sports that people bet on, Hockey is one the least successful to the average player. Why? The game is based more on momentum and emotions rather than mathematical trends and stats. There are a few systems that work really well and Jeff will share some of them in this article.

Schedule & Travel

This is probably the No. 1 thing to look for when starting to break down the hockey schedule. Also, the schedule and travel aspect of NHL handicapping will get stronger as the season progresses. Teams traveling from the East Coast to the West Coast will often struggle in their first game. The same can be said for teams traveling from the East Coast to the West Coast. There was a study done in 2018 that suggests 78% of teams traveling over three time zones lose that first road game. Players have to deal with families, planes, bus schedules, foreign hotel accommodations, and than are expected to play at 100%. Now what if your team has to play back-to-back games, three games in four nights, or even worse five games in seven nights. That’s all tough on the body especially with older teams.

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There are some caveats to long road trips. Sometimes, NHL teams will bond over a long road trip and end up winning six of seven on its trip. Or they might go undefeated. These teams will be easy to spot during the long season. Remember to never bet against teams on long winning streaks and never bet on teams that are on losing streaks!

Starting Goalies & Backups

The starting goalie will account for only roughly 70% of the opening price. It’s not like MLB where starting pitchers will account for 90% of the line. Virtually every team has a No. 1 goalie that on any given night will allow enough goals to win. Most players will overreact when the starting goalie is declared out and end up loading up on the other team. Don’t fall for this tactic that sportsbooks love. In most cases, the backup goalie wants to prove he is the right man for the job and end up playing very well. Now, if the backup gets hurt and the team is down to its fourth or fifth goalie than that’s a different story. Keep an eye on how these backups perform to determine if you will want to play or fade his team in the future. To judge a solid goalie, look at both the save percentage and goals against average. See how many goals the team has been scoring for that goalie. If a goalie has been getting ripped in the media, he’s a good bet to bounce back in his very next game.

Hot & Cold Teams

Teams in the NHL prosper on long winning streaks and perish on long losing streaks. They key is to ride the hot streaks before the team eventually loses and vice versa. Look for teams that above .500 and have won at least four games in a row. On the flip side, look for losing teams (under .500) that have lost four straight games. It’s really that simple. Keep in mind, the odds-makers will intentionally juice up the price on hot teams and vice versa with losing teams. This will not make you rich so don’t blindly play every team on long winning/losing streaks. The key to scoring big Hockey profits is limiting your number of plays each week. I can’t stress that enough.

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Home Ice Advantage

The home team gets to make substitutions after the road team. Consequently, the home team can “matchup” exactly the way they want against the road team. But not all home ice advantage is created equal. Some teams will play better on the road as they seem more relaxed. At home, some teams feel the extra pressure of performing well to impress the home fans and end up making numerous mistakes. Keep an eye on home/road splits after the first 2 months of the season.

Underdogs

The salary cap has led to a lot of parity in Hockey. Betting NHL underdogs may seem risky in the long run, but statistically you’ll find a good amount of underdog plays than favorites, since the NHL offers a somewhat level playing field. Look for winning teams flying under the radar.

Injuries

This may seem obvious to some but it’s very important to keep up with the injury report. This goes way beyond just checking to see who the scratches for the game are. Sure, major injuries are very clear when a player is unable to suit up. But Hockey is a brutal sport where players are constantly playing through injuries. Some can barley walk but still want to be on the ice. Check the box scores to see if a proven player is struggling to score goals or even assists. Reading the local blogs/papers to see who is playing “nicked up” can pay big dividends by season’s end. The information is out there if you are willing to put in the time and work.

Hot Hockey Betting Tips

  1. If a head coach has gotten fired you will want to play that team in it’s very next game.
  2. Play on teams that commit at least 5 fewer penalties than its opponents.
  3. Play on teams that out-shoot their opponents by at least 7 shots per game.
  4. Play on teams that have out-shot their opponent in three straight games and coming off a loss.
  5. Play against teams that have been out-shot in their last three games and coming off a win.
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