Every Tuesday, we look at one aspect of hockey betting that is important for bettors to understand. Hockey betting is similar to betting in the other sports with many of the same wagers but there are some differences that are important to keep in mind. With this in mind, let’s look at one of the things to keep in mind for NHL betting that will hopefully result in profitable wagers.
Goaltenders: Part One
Unlike any other sport, the goaltender in hockey plays a unique and pivotal role in a team’s success and must be accounted for when it comes to placing wagers. Goalies are unique, to say the least, they rotate like starting pitchers, impact games like quarterbacks, and have a mental side to them like NFL kickers, all at the same time.
When placing a bet, it’s crucial to look at who is in the net for each team as it significantly changes the perspective of whether the team will win or not. Some teams platoon their two goaltenders but for most, there is a true starter and an occasional backup who is far less talented than the starter.
While keeping track of which goaltender is starting is important, there are other factors to consider when looking at goaltenders, primarily, which stats are important and which ones are misleading, and with this, let’s look at the most obvious misleading stat, the goaltender win.
Wins are not a goaltender stat.
Like the pitcher win or evaluating quarterbacks based on their record, there is some truth but an underlying flaw in determining if a goaltender is good and worth backing in a bet based on how many wins they have on the season. The big problem is that the stat credits one player for an entire team’s work. The goaltender win will tell you a lot about the team but not much about the goaltender, which ultimately can hurt you as a bettor if you are banking on the goaltender based on their regular-season record.
Looking at three goaltenders stat lines from last season we can see the fundamental flaw and the misperception from goaltenders based on how many wins they had.
|Goaltender One||25 wins||.909 save percentage||2.75 goals-against average||1100 shots faced|
|Goaltender Two||12 wins||.902 save percentage||2.69 goals-against average||499 shots faced|
|Goaltender Three||9 wins||.903 save percentage||2.98 goals-against average||1042 shots faced|
Without looking at the names, you’d think that these three goaltenders were similar and if anything, goaltender one had the best season based on his win total, and thus would be the best goaltender to bet on this season as well. However, these three goaltenders played on three different teams that resulted in their stat lines.
Goaltender One was Tristan Jarry of the Pittsburgh Penguins who won 37 games.
Goaltender Two was Ilya Samsonov of the Washington Capitals who won 36 games.
Goaltender Three was John Gibson of the Anaheim Ducks who won only 17 games.
Looking at the teams these three goaltenders played for and considering their stat lines and win totals, the goaltender that actually shifted improved his team the most was Gibson, who carried a struggling Ducks team. The other two goaltenders, on the other hand, were carried by teams that were already good and they didn’t particularly give their teams a betting edge.
Now, it’s easy to argue that the goaltender win should be applicable for bettors since they are winning games, which is what bettors are looking for. This is true but to a firm point. Take Jarry and Samsonov for example, both of whom were on good teams but when matched up against good teams and good goaltenders, were exposed and exploited as their underlying numbers and results were non-existent.
Jarry was the downfall of the Penguins in the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the New York Islanders while Samsonov was the downfall of the Capitals in the First Round of the Playoffs against the Boston Bruins. Both teams lost in the First Round despite being favored to win their respective matchups.
What This Means For Bettors?
There are plenty of stats to evaluate a goaltender and determine if they are worth backing in a bat (or betting on in general for player prop bets). However, the win is not one that should be considered. Ultimately, looking at a team’s record is just as valuable if not more so than looking at the goaltender’s win total.
Furthermore, there are some goaltenders that have high win totals but can ultimately backfire for bettors since their win total covers up the underlying numbers of the goaltender. This is why if you consider the goaltender when placing a bet, you should also look at the team altogether and likewise, look at the other stats to see if there are any outliers.