Betting on NHL games may not be as popular as betting on the NFL or NBA, but bettors can find plenty of great opportunities if they simply know where to look. Finding value in NHL betting odds requires some prior knowledge.
Hockey betting may seem difficult or even boring at times. There are many one-goal games in the NHL every year. Because of scoring, betting on NHL games is primarily a moneyline thing. Still, betting on hockey can provide the smarter bettor with numerous value bets all season long.
How can the average bettor start finding value in NHL betting odds? There are many different types of hockey bets. The search for value begins with knowing where to look.
Analyze the Schedule
NHL teams play a long, grueling 82-game schedule. There are a number of times throughout a given season when a team will play on back-to-back nights. There are stretches where teams play three games in four nights. These instances have an impact on games.
Oftentimes, NHL coaches go deeper into their lineups and play a fourth line much more than usual when playing on the second night of a back-to-back. That helps star players get more rest, but it also keeps those talented scorers off the ice.
Another factor is motivation. It pays for hockey bettors to find instances where a team might be looking ahead. They may play a weak team one night and a powerhouse the next. Teams may often overlook the weaker opponent and focus on the powerhouse. That can lead to great betting opportunities.
Rest is a huge factor in the NHL. A team coming off no rest is at a disadvantage when playing a team that is rested. Looking for these opportunities in the schedule can help bettors find value in NHL betting odds.
Strong Road Teams
Home teams have some advantages in NHL games. The biggest is “last change” which allows a home coach to make substitutions last following all whistles to stop play. Home coaches can always get the matchup they want.
That doesn’t always translate into wins, but it helps. Playing at home is already factored into a game’s odds. One of the things NHL bettors can do is look at how well a home team plays in its own arena against a team that has a strong road record.
Veteran teams often navigate the pressures of playing on the road better than younger teams. This is something smart NHL bettors will look at before placing a bet.
The Goalies & NHL Betting Odds
Like pitchers in baseball, there might be no more important matchup in an NHL game than the two opposing goalies. Always check to see who is starting at goalie before placing an NHL bet. Starting goalies will be rested every once in a while and bettors may find value in betting against a backup.
There are also occasions when betting on a backup makes sense. Some backups do have outstanding records. Whatever the situation, it pays to know who is in goal and who is not.
Watch for Streaks
Look for NHL teams with big winning and losing streaks. They always seem to happen. The New Jersey Devils are in the midst of a 13-game winning streak right now. The Mario Lemieux-era Pittsburgh Penguins are the only NHL team with two 15-game-plus winning streaks.
Backing teams that are hot can pay off. It can also pay off on the other end to find teams that can’t find ways to win. Take the 2016-17 Philadelphia Flyers as an example. Early in the season, the Flyers enjoyed a 10-game winning streak. They outscored their opponents by 14 goals. Riding the streak paid off for some bettors.
Right after that streak, the Flyers then went on a run of 16 games in which they recorded just one win. Streaks work both ways. Smart NHL bettors would be wise to consider them before placing wagers.