Welcome to my weekly "Hunting The NHL" betting strategy column that will focus on overall hockey trends and where we can learn to take advantage as sports bettors. The goal of this piece will be to give you, the reader/bettor, valuable information that will allow you to have the best edge in beating the sports books, not just for a given weekend of games, but for the long term. Please note that each of these articles will be written on Wednesday night and published early on Thursday with a macro, "big picture" focus on all around NHL betting strategy, as well as looking ahead to the upcoming weekend slate of hockey games.
Author's Note: Due to COVID-19, the 2021 NHL regular season will not just be shorter (56 games instead of 82), but teams will only play opponents within their own division. This means that teams will play each other 8-10 times in a condensed schedule type of format, which is unprecedented. I will monitor this throughout the season and adjusting my own personal strategy accordingly as we gather more data.
Trend To Target:
First period totals in the National Hockey League are usually set at Over/Under 1.5 Goals. The Pittsburgh Penguins currently sit at 4-0 to the first period over (and 4-0 to the game total as well), and although the sample size is small, it's evident that the Penguins have trouble stopping the puck while also having the offensive firepower to score early and often with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin putting the puck in the net. The Penguins' upcoming matchups against the NY Rangers on both Friday and Sunday (Jan 22nd, January 24th) will feature another high powered offense that is 2-1 to first period overs so far, in addition to having the seventh most first period overs last season. Moving forward, another team to monitor will be the Detroit Redwings. Detroit is a bottom feeder type of team in this of the league and is the complete opposite to Pittsburgh in this area. "The Wings" currently are 4-0 to the first period under and finished in the top four last season in overall first period unders. Detroit has a date with the winless Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night. The Blackhawks lack offensive depth and also have question marks in net. This matchup could be a defensive struggle, and thus an area we could attack given the circumstances.
Fade(s) Of The Weekend:
There have indeed been a few teams worth fading so far this season, but with the aforementioned Red Wings and Blackhawks facing each other this weekend, I'll be looking I'm looking to fade three California teams this that have combined for just two wins in their first nine games: the Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, and Los Angeles Kings. All three of these teams are projected to rank in the bottom three of their respective divisions this year while having to play against the likes of the St. Louis Blues, Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche eight times (!) each. The Ducks Host the Avalanche twice this weekend, while the Blues host the Kings twice. The money line odds will be juiced, sure, but there is always value on the puckline, which normally ranges from +110 to +175 depending on the matchup. Look specifically for games where the backup goalies may start, and pick your spots accordingly to get the best line value.
Value On The Dog:
My favorite NHL underdog this weekend is the Nashville Predators going on the road to face the Dallas Stars. The Stars have yet to play a game this year, due to a large amount of their players testing positive for COVID prior to the season starting. The Stars have actually not played a competitive hockey game since August, when they lost in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Tampa Bay Lightning. They are without key pieces of their team here, missing starting goalie Ben Bishop, leading scorer Tyler Seguin and top defenseman Miro Heiskanen. I’m not sure the exactly what the line will come out at, and therefore I'm curious as to what the bookmakers do for this game. I’m hoping that Dallas at home are in fact the favorites, especially with their runner-up performance in August; but with the key missing pieces, I can’t guarantee it. Prior to the season, many experts predicted that the Stars would finish ahead of the Predators. Nashville, on the other hand, is projected to be an average team in the central division and most likely battling for one of the last playoff spots. The Predators are off to a 2-1 start and I like them in this spot, mainly because they'e had some games under their belt compared to the Stars, who will be not only rusty, but missing key key pieces. I like Nashville on the moneyline and believe there's a lot of potential value in this matchup.
Player Prop Value:
A couple value play "pizza bets" I like for this upcoming weekend include players on the Colorado Avalanche to get a power play point. The odds for members on the top power play range from +150 to +400 (over 0.5 power play points). Colorado's power play has been on fire to start the season, with eight goals on 17 opportunities (47%) ranking number one in the NHL. Look for the Avalanche to rely on their power play for goals night in and night out, especially with the amount of star power they have.