15 May 2013

NHL Betting: Avoid The Coin Flip Mentality

By Buffalo66
Buffalo, NY

I was checking out my NHL playoffs betting stats (all wagers one unit) and was shocked to find myself at 4-9-1.  I was even more shocked to find myself down only 2.59 units. How can this be? Welcome to the wacky world of pucks, where losing streaks don't mean much on paper.

The NHL playoffs offer a great opportunity to get into hockey wagering.  The 16 best teams fighting for the Stanley Cup.  All of the games are televised and spread out on the schedule, which offers value all the way to the finals.

Most bettors (especially NBA & NFL punters) are used to the basic point spread wager: Team A +4 or Team B -4.  Both sides pay -110.  It's just a decision of which side to take.  This is also the basic definition of coin flip mentality: Viewing a wager as a 50/50 proposition.

More advanced bettors know that sometimes money line wagers offer better value.  In the NHL it is no different.  In my opinion, one advantage NHL punters have is that the lines rarely move.  Since there is less money pouring in to change the board, paying attention to lineup changes can put huge dogs in play for you.

With the straight wagers your team just has to win by one goal.  You would think that most games are decided by one in the NHL.  However, on average less than 33% of regular season games are one goal affairs.  The playoffs are slightly higher since only the best teams play.

The number of one goal games by individual teams is directly correlated to offensive output.  Simply put, the teams with the power house offenses have the least one goal games. Those are the teams you look to for point spread bets.

NHL books use a point spread similar to MLB.  Instead of the run line, it's called the puck line.  This wager offers superior value if you think the favorite will win by 2.  Winning by two can often involve the dreaded empty net goal.  Anyone who wagers hockey will tell you that last minute of regulation is a pure shot of adrenaline to an action junkie.


If you see a puck line favorite you like, I'd expect to get at least +200 or better if you're going to risk a 2 goal win.  Conversely, if you like a dog to keep it a one goal game, look for -200 or better.

NHL also offers regulation time wagers.  This allows you get a better line if you think the game will end without overtime.  It's a wager to consider if you really like a side, but aren't sure they can get it done by 2 goals.

As for totals, you can play over/under or team totals.  If the game is expected to be wide open, look for some value on the over.  Anytime a goalie gets hot, look for the under.

A big factor to consider in betting totals is a healthy defensive corps.  Teams dress 6 D-men and they all play significant minutes.  Losing any one of them can impact the true line, whether sides or totals.

I strongly suggest you give NHL betting a try.  With the playoffs, any beginner can study just one series.  There is enough on the wagering menu to offer some value in almost every game.


A little luck doesn't hurt either.


Buffalo66 is a professional sports bettor and one of the most feared opponents in daily fantasy sports.

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