NHL unders improved to 5-0-1 in the first round of the playoffs Wednesday, continuing a totals trend from the opening round of last year's NHL postseason that has the under paying out at nearly 63 percent.
Wednesday's playoff games finished 0-2-1 over/under, featuring a push in the Boston Bruins' 4-1 defeat of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Pittsburgh Penguins got off to a quick start to defeat the New York Islanders 5-0 and keep the score under the 5.5 total. In the Western Conference, the San Jose Sharks stayed below the 5-goal number in their 3-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks to cement the 0-5-1 over/under record.
Any $100 bettor would be up $419.20 if they picked the under in each of the first six games of the playoffs. Oddsmakers like to trim totals down to five as the standard number in the NHL playoffs. And with good reason.
In the opening round of the 2012 playoffs, there were 48 games played and 241 total goals scored - an average of 5.02 total goals per game. That led to an over/under record of 14-23-11 in the first round, paying out under bettors at more than 59 percent.
Only the infamous series between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Penguins trended towards the over, going 4-2 over/under with the teams scoring 56 combined goals (9.3 goals per game).
Playoff jitters can sometimes lead to a decline in offensive rhythm early into first-round series. There were four teams in the 2012 playoffs that weren't in the previous postseason. Those teams - Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, and St. Louis Blues - combined for a 6-10-10 over/under count.
This year, there are five teams which qualified for the playoffs that did not play in the postseason a year ago. The Islanders, Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Minnesota Wild and Anaheim Ducks are all good candidates to be "holding their sticks a little tighter" due to a lack of recent playoff experience.
Playoff action continues Thursday evening. The league's best under team in the regular season, the Ottawa Senators, are on the road to face the Canadiens in their series opener. The Sens posted an under record of 30-11-7 on the season. The Washington Capitals host the New York Rangers to get their series underway. And in a pair of Game 2's, the Blues face the Los Angeles Kings and the Ducks host the Detroit Red Wings. All totals are currently set at five.
Under bets cashed in at a 54.08 percent rate during the lockout-shortened schedule this year, including a 62.79 percent rate in the final seven days of the season with teams rounding into playoff form.