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Men's Hockey Betting Guide

   by Hollywood Sports - 02/14/2014


Everything you need to know from Frank Sawyer's Hollywood Sports regarding the format and betting tips regarding the 2014 Olympic Men's Hockey event.

International tournaments like team Olympic events or World Cup soccer offer fantastic financial opportunities for bettors. The books are just looking to break even and make their money off the vig while the public is mostly uneducated regarding the composition of the competing teams. I began investing significant energy into these special events a few years ago with the results being very satisfying. Veteran handicapping skills certainly help in analyzing these situations but there is no substitute to hard work in researching detailed information on each team. Thanks to the world wide web, great information is out there to be had. With that in mind, here are four things to keep in mind when betting the 2014 Olympic Men's Hockey events.

(1) Format.

Twelve teams are separated into three groups of four. Each group will play a round robin schedule of three games against each other before entering the Knockout Stage of the tournament. Every team still competes in the Knockout Stage with the top four teams overall earning a bye to the Quarterfinals and Group Stage results determining the seeding for the Knockout rounds. Tie games go into overtime where the a five minute four-on-four session will be played (these times extend in the Knockout Stage). If the game is still tied, then a shootout period ensues. An interesting wrinkle that Canada took advantage of with Sidney Crosby in the 2010 games is if the game enters a second shootout session, coaches can use the same shooter more than once.

(2) Times and Lines.

With these games being played in Russia, the start time for games will range from 4:30 AM EST, 7:30 AM EST and 12:00 PM EST -- so bettors will need to adjust to that schedule. This will likely wreak some havoc with getting access to some betting lines from the books that will want to assess the previous days results before issuing lines for the next day's games. So, at times, patience will have to be a virtue.

(3) The Impact of the Big Ice.

The European game is played in rinks that are 15 feet wider than NHL ice rinks. This has helped facilitate a style of play that is faster and more open than the grinding style that is often successful in the Stanley Cup playoffs. This emphasis on speed favors offenses -- particularly those teams with elite NHL talent at the forward position. This also places a unique challenge on the Canadian and American teams that need to adapt their NHL style of play for the European brand. Canada was humiliated with a 7th place result in the 2006 Olympics in Turin after constructing a roster of grinders that could not impose their will in the bigger space against the speed of the European and Russian teams. Remember, when Canada and the United States then played for the Gold Medal in 2010, those games were in the Canucks' NHL rink in Vancouver. This is the first Olympic Games for Canada and the US since Turin.

(4) Don't Underestimate the Underdogs.

It may be tempting to evaluate these teams strictly on their NHL talent because that is the most familiar aspect of these games for NHL fans. However, that is exactly how Joe Q. Public will be betting these games as well. Canada's NHL talent flopped in 2006. All the Russian NHL talent resulted in a 6th place finish in 2010. And can you guess the team with the most medals since NHL players started playing in the Olympics? Its Finland -- and while they have a number of NHLers on their roster, the majority of their team comes the European professional leagues. Hockey is a team game where cohesion on the ice is just as important as individual star power.

I will actively be betting this entire tournament -- even if I have to wait all night for lines to be established. There is money to be had here. Get on board! Best of luck for us -- Frank.

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