Tip-In Tuesday: Hockey Betting Advice of the Week, Part Three

Tip-In Tuesday- Hockey Betting Advice of the Week, Part Three

Every Tuesday, we dive into one aspect of hockey betting or one important thing to note for bettors of all varieties. For those interested in betting on the NHL, and the differences compared to other sports 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 weekly column where we look at a specific aspect of hockey betting and how to understand it.

Betting trends are common in research and have become a staple in matchup previews. In many betting articles there will be a section devoted to team trends and there are plenty of websites that also solely devote themselves to trends as well.

The problem is, that in the NHL and the sport of hockey in general, betting trends can oftentimes be misleading or deceiving of the team, rather than give a direct implication of their roster. Moreover, a lot of trends can be useless when it comes to proving the argument for one team having a distinct edge or likelihood of winning the upcoming game.

To understand why hockey trends are particularly misleading, it’s important to keep in mind what type of trends you will often see in a preview. The first type of trend that is regularly seen is a small sample size which will often look like these trends.

The Hurricanes are 5-0 in their last five games.
The Kings are 5-0 in their last five home games.
The Ducks are 1-4 in their last five road games against the Western Conference.
Note: these aren’t real trends but you can find ones that look similar to these on Covers.com

The other types of trends that you will see are larger sample sizes and look more credible. They account for more games and more data and will look more convincing as a result. Examples would look like this.

The Jets are 82-18 in their last 100 games against the Central Division.
The Bruins are 40-12 in their last 62 games against the Eastern Conference.
The Rangers are 31-39 in their last 100 regular-season games.

Aside from “cherry-picking” which a lot of trends tend to do, ignoring obvious information by dodging it in the specific trend, there are other noticeable issues that become prevalent when you dive deeper into the given data.

Looking at the larger sample sizes brings up the first issue more easily. Looking at a lot of the games that are given in these sample sizes, you notice that some of the games go back to the previous season or even a few years back. Any fan, especially of the NHL will be quick to tell you that what happened a few years ago has little to no implication on what will happen in the next game. The 2019 Devils will look little to nothing like the 2021 Devils.

This issue is predominant in all trends simply because of how quickly teams change, not just from year to year but from week to week. Rosters are constantly being adjusted with line changes, injuries, and finding the right combinations for a specific game and look completely different from over the course of a given season.

What about short-term trends or small sample sizes? They must be more direct, right? Well, yes they are more accurate but still misleading to a lesser degree. The underlying problem of teams changing constantly is still prominent, a unique issue that pertains to hockey more than the other sports (baseball can be a strong exception with starting pitchers often directly correlating to a team’s success).

The additional issue that short terms trends don’t account for is the rosters in those games. Meaning, trends never account for the starting goaltender in those games, the specific opponents in those games and the matchups that those games provided, and who was injured at the time.

What This Means For Bettors?

Whenever you read a betting preview for an NHL game and see betting trends are part of an argument to pick a certain team, you should question the data that is given. Granted, information of any type deserves a closer look but given that trends are easily deceptive, it is imperative to dig deeper and possibly research the trend itself.

There are plenty of resources for placing bets these days in hockey. Plenty of websites are devoted to stats, some basic while others are advanced stats that are hard to understand. There and also plenty of platforms that do extensive research on matchups and mismatches in games and the team’s strategies for how they play on the ice. However, betting trends are not something to take into account, they are just aren’t valuable for hockey bettors the same way gut reactions are.

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