Welcome to my weekly "Hunting The NHL" betting strategy column that will continue to focus on overall hockey trends and where we can 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 most of these articles will be written on Wednesday and published on Thursday/Friday with a macro, big picture focus on all-around NHL betting strategy, and sometimes looking ahead to the upcoming weekend slate of 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 divisions. 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 betting strategy accordingly as we gather more data.
This week I am taking a look at a live wagering strategy that we can potentially take advantage of in the world of hockey. The live betting world itself has become insanely popular in these last couple years, and in this piece we are going to look at placing live wagers on teams in the National Hockey League that go down in the game. We will refer to these teams/situations as "strikebacks" - when a team goes down in the game, makes a comeback and then ultimately wins the game outright. The data sets and statistical information I'm using for this specific article can also be found hereat the More Hockey Stats website.
Before we dive in here, there are a few important things to know. First, that there are different types of "strikebacks" of 1 goal, 2 goals and 3+ goals. In addition, there is also "reverse strikebacks," where we can look at teams that are up by 1, 2, or 3+ goals and end up losing those games. For this article, however, I will be focusing on teams specifically coming back from 1 and 2 goal deficits to ultimately win the game.
Since 2015-2016 (last five seasons) there has been a handful of teams each season that have 15+ one goal strikebacks. Now, 15 one goal strikebacks may not seem like a great amount, but when the top 10 teams average about 45 wins in a given season, then that is roughly one third of wins coming from down one goal. When a team goes down by a goal, the live odds can change pretty significantly as well. What new live odds we see can also depend on numerous factors, such as how much time is remaining in the game, who was the favorite pregame, is a team on power play, etc. That being said, these odds can get even juicier when a team goes down by two goals or more. Now let's take a closer look at each season:
2015-16: 7 teams with 15+ one goal strikebacks; 4 teams with 4+ two goal strikebacks
Top Strikebacks? Washington Capitals (25 one goal strikebacks/ 56 wins total)
2016-17: 13 teams with 15+ one goal strikebacks; 10 teams with 4+ two goal strikebacks
Top Strikebacks? Calgary Flames (22 one goal strikebacks; 45 wins total)
2017-18: 11 teams with 15+ one goal strikebacks; 13 teams with 4+ two goal strikebacks
Top Strikebacks? Boston Bruins (22 one goal strikebacks; 49 wins total)
2018-19: 12 teams with 15+ one goal strikebacks; 17 teams with 4+ two goal stikebacks; 4 teams with 7+ two goal strikebacks
Top Strikebacks? Tampa Bay Lightning (19 one goal strikebacks; 8 two goal strikebacks; 62 wins total)
2019-20 (shortened season): 9 teams with 13+ one-goal strikebacks; 14 teams with 4+ two-goal strikebacks
Top Strikeback? St Louis Blues (16 one goal strikebacks; 4 two goal strikebacks; 42 wins total)
What's interesting about these statistics above is that they simply show a one goal lead isn't safe in the NHL. It's also noted on multiple statistical websites that the team that scores first in the game has roughly a 65-75% chance to win the game, and the fact that some of these teams can win just under half of their games when they are behind is great ammunition to fire on them when it comes to live betting the NHL.
Furthermore, if a team is roughly (-160) to win the game pregame on the moneyline and lets in a goal within the first 5 minutes, they instantly become around +110/+120 to win the game outright. The more time that ticks off the clock, then the greater those odds will also become. Targeting teams that are shown that they can come back from a deficit may also be a solid team to play live. If targeting a team down by a goal late with under five minutes left, you can often get +600 or more on the moneyline as well.
Yes, it's much harder to win at that point, but with those odds you would only have to be right 1 out of 6 times for it to be a break even play. Therefore, watching and targeting certain teams can be beneficial. Take the St. Louis Blues, for example, who had 20 combined wins when trailing by one or two goals in a game during the COVID-shortened 2019-2020 season. Those 20 combined strikebacks combined for nearly half of their entire wins that season, and we saw similar results in the four seasons prior by other teams too.
This season there has been a handful of teams that have already registered numerous strikebacks despite each team having only played roughly 15-20 games. The Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, and Florida Panthers have all had six one-goal strikebacks. In addition, the Winnipeg Jets are another interesting team this season, having only completed two strikebacks of one goal. They lead the league, however, in two-goal strikebacks, having completed a whopping four in only 18 games this season. The Boston Bruins, on the other hand, have tallied three one-goal strikebacks, a pair of two-goal strikebacks and one 3+ goal strikebacks. Certainly these are some of the teams we can look to get a ton of value you when they're trailing in game throughout the 2021 season, so keep your eye out and hammer the books accordingly.