Every Tuesday, we look at one aspect of hockey and NHL betting and how to understand it with the hopes of becoming smarter and more profitable bettors. Like the other major pro sports, hockey betting has a lot of similarities and often provides the same type of wagers. However, there are a few differences that are worth pointing out and worth noting. This week, we’ll take a step back and look at a recent element that has shaped the betting world and more importantly, the sports world altogether.
How COVID-19 is Reshaping Hockey Betting
The pandemic has altered the lifestyle and many things for people across the globe. Sports have been no exception with leagues being forced to adapt and pivot, oftentimes in a matter of seconds. Some actions the major sports leagues have done would be unthinkable years ago, playing in a bubble, playing games without fans, playing sports in different seasons, and so on.
The NHL deals with a unique set of circumstances and difficulties, especially with seven teams located in Canada. This past week, the NHL was forced to postpone games until after the Christmas holiday break amid the recent outbreaks within rosters. Moreover, team outbreaks and players missing games is now something that all bettors have to consider prior to making a wager, just like an injury or the injury list.
The first and most noticeable element that bettors are which players are inactive. Keeping track of a specific goaltender or key skaters being out of the lineup will often move the line pregame and similarly, impact the game itself. Losing one player in hockey unlike basketball or football isn’t as impactful to the outcome of the game but considering how a skater impacts his shift or the roster can and will impact which team to bet on, like injuries.
However, something that bettors often don’t consider is how a player gets affected by being infected. While different players have different responses, it often takes a while for a player to return to form, even when back in the lineup.
In the 2020 NFL season when Myles Garrett contracted COVID-19 and returned to the lineup, he said “It kicked my butt, it kicked my parents’ butt” and he wasn’t the same in the games that followed. Similarly, the Vancouver Canucks had a team outbreak towards the end of the 2020-21 NHL season and upon returning, weren’t the same team and ultimately, finished the season with the worst record in their division.
This leads to the next point which is just as important for bettors to consider. When teams have their games postponed, and then they return to the ice, they are not the same team. Many teams will especially look slower and worse when returning from an outbreak. For bettors, it’s important to note which teams are returning and what the betting odds are for their games. In addition, some teams that were great over the course of the season will enter their returning games as favorites but are not favorable bets, rather the underdogs are the best bet in that situation.
With this in mind, the NHL will return next week. It’s a clean slate to the season with most teams playing 30 or so games of the 82 that are in the regular season. However, it will be impotent to monitor which teams were most affected and will have tougher times recovering when play resumes, allowing bettors to find favorable matchups.