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

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

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.

Early Season Betting Vs. Mid-Season Betting

The 2021-22 NHL season is less than a month old and many bettors are trying to make sense of the early season results. Hockey is a tough sport to predict, more so than the other major sports but the first few games and even months can leave bettors and casual fans alike even more perplexed. After all, some of the top teams in the NHL are struggling to start this season, highlighted by three of the four teams to reach the Semifinal last season to start out this season below .500.

Simply put, teams struggle early on in the season and it’s tougher to determine which teams are truly the top teams in the league. Coaches are still trying to figure out which forward lines are the most likely to find the back of the net and create scoring chances and considering the unique skillsets of every player and the number of forwards on each team, it takes multiple games for teams to find the ideal line combinations. Similarly, defensive pairings need constant adjustment at the beginning of the season, especially with different coaches possessing different philosophies for the game (should a scoring defenseman play alongside a defensive defenseman or another scoring defenseman?).

With the early season struggles and surprising outcomes, fans and even some experts won’t have a clear picture of which teams in the NHL are the best and conversely, which are the worst until January or halfway through the season.

Looking at the record of some of the recent Stanley Cup Champions halfway through the season compared to the end of the season, we see how some of the top teams progressed into champions in the back half of the season.

Mid-Season RecordEnd of Season Record
2020-21 Tampa Bay Lightning20 wins in 28 games36 wins in 56 games
2019-20 Tampa Bay Lightning18 wins in 35 games43 wins in 70 games
2018-19 St. Louis Blues 17 wins in 41 games45 wins in 82 games
Notes: The 2019-20 & 2020-21 NHL seasons were shortened due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The team that stands out as playing better in the regular season in the first half of the season was the 2020-21 Tampa Bay Lightning, who only won 16 games in the second half of the season. The primary reason for their late-season struggles, however, is connected to how they were built and the fact that they were preparing for the Stanley Cup run and kept Nikita Kucherov, their top scorer on the injured reserve until the playoffs started. Otherwise, they also would have had a better second-half record in all likelihood.

The bottom line is that it’s a long season and teams need all of the 82 games to figure out what works and what doesn’t. As a result, the early months of the season are too early to determine which teams are the good ones and which ones will finish the season with the worst records.

What This Means For Bettors

In addition to hockey being an unpredictable sport, where any team can win on any night, the unpredictability is amplified early on in the season. Bettors must proceed with caution when it comes to betting early on in the season and furthermore, can’t be overconfident in their picks, especially with the early season unpredictability.

However, bettors can continue to embrace the unpredictability of the NHL with their early-season wagers. Underdogs pulling off upsets are commonplace early on in the season and the money line underdog bet becomes more intriguing as a result. Likewise, when a total is higher than usual, listed at 6.5 instead of 5.5, the Under bet becomes a viable one since teams and offenses are tougher to predict and as a bettor, you have a goal to spare.

Furthermore, for those who like to make bold wagers, future odds (winning the Stanley Cup, divisional outright) have better payouts early on in the season with that unpredictability, making a team with longer odds, a better bet.

+ posts