Hockey is one of the faster-growing popular sports in the United States with many sports fans adding the fast-paced sport into their interests. Every night from early October until the Stanley Cup is hoisted in the summer, there are big games and exciting moments. Along with the rise in popularity has been the rise in sports betting and hockey betting has been no exception.
For those interested in betting on the NHL, and the differences compared to other sports, I’m here to tell you, there are few. However, there are some things to note that will not only make you a smarter bettor but hopefully a more profitable one. With that, here is the first of a weekly column where we look at a specific aspect of hockey betting and how to understand it.
Embrace Hockey’s Unpredictability
The NHL is one of the toughest leagues to predict. It makes the game of hockey truly special. Any team on any night can pull off an upset, more so than the other major sports. Likewise, once the Stanley Cup Playoffs start, anyone has a legitimate chance to win the Cup.
Granted, over the course of an 82 game regular season, the better teams will make their way to the top of the standings. Likewise, there have been a handful of teams that have won the Stanley Cup multiple times including the reigning champion Tampa Bay Lightning, who are back-to-back champions. However, in comparison to other leagues, the NHL is harder to predict on a nightly basis and in the long term.
Looking that the best win percentages of the best teams in each of the leagues, we see which league the best teams are able to separate themselves from the rest of the pack and which aren’t.
|2020-21||Colorado Avalanche (.696%)||San Francisco Giants (.660%)||Utah Jazz (.722%)||Kansas City Chiefs (.875%)|
|2019-20||Boston Bruins (.671%)||Los Angeles Dodgers (.717%)||Milwaukee Bucks (.767%)||Baltimore Ravens (.875%)|
|2018-19||Tampa Bay Lightning (.701%)||Houston Astros (.660%)||Milwaukee Bucks (.732%)||New Orleans Saints (.813%)|
From this sample size, you might notice the gap between the NHL and MLB in comparison to the NBA and NFL. The MLB and NHL are tougher to predict, with more parity on a night-to-night basis. Essentially, the favorites win but not as often as one might think.
What This Means For Bettors
The NHL in particular is the best sport to bet on the Underdogs.
Every night, there are a handful of teams that enter the game as money line Underdogs but win their games and provide great odds in the process. The better teams ultimately win more games but not to a significant degree and even the best team in the NHL enters bad stretches or drops a few games from time to time.
This doesn’t mean you should bet the money line on every underdog on a given night, that’s an easy way to lose money. Rather, the unpredictability allows you to strategically place money down on teams that have a viable chance of pulling the upset on a given night.
The optimal nightly strategy for betting on the Underdogs, with this in mind is to pick two teams with favorable odds (+110, +120) on a given night. If you go 50-50, you will make a profit, a slight one but nonetheless, a profit. The only way this strategy fails is if both teams lose but considering how any team can win, it’s unlikely that will happen.