The puck drops on a new NHL campaign on Wednesday and that’s good news for bettors looking to find weak betting lines.
Oddsmakers agonize over each number they hang on pigskin spread and totals because of the sheer volume of action placed on NFL and college football games. That’s not the case with hockey.
There are opportunities to make some dough wagering on a fringe sport like the NHL while the eye of Sauron – aka the book – is solely focused on football.
Here’s a look at a few early season NHL betting trends to keep in mind before the skates hit the ice and shoulders hit the boards on Wednesday night.
Bet Under the game totals early on
Excluding pushes, the Under is 318-259 (55.1 win rate) in October since the start of the 2013-14 season. Last year the Over went 19-9-7 in the first week of the season but finished 55-65-9 by the end of the month.
“I’d say we see that Under trend for a few reasons,” TSN’s Dustin Nielson told Covers. “Shooters are still rusty from the offseason, for the most part defenseman are healthy, and coaching is still fresh to the players so they are focused on playing systems as opposed to playing a little loosey goosey like they would later in the season.”
Bet on the Montreal Canadiens
If the season ended on Halloween, the Habs would be four-time defending champions. Montreal is 34-11 in games in October since the 2013 campaign, including 8-1 last season. If you had bet $100 on Montreal in each of its games in October since 2013, you’d be up $1635.75 or 16.36 units.
The Canadiens aren’t the only team that gets out of the blocks quickly. The Pittsburgh Penguins are 28-14 over the same stretch, but of course oddsmakers make you pay a premium to back the club with Sidney Crosby.
Best puckline bet: Washington Capitals
The Washington Capitals continue to disappoint in the playoffs but that shouldn’t discourage NHL bettors from backing them in the regular season. The Caps have won the last two Presidents’ Trophies (awarded to the team with the most points at the end of the regular season) and their success has spilled over to the puckline as well.
For those unfamiliar, the puckline is just like betting the runline in baseball which means backing a team at plus or minus 1.5-goal spread. Washington would normally always be the favorite meaning you’d be betting them at -1.5 goals. Betting the Caps this way means improved odds, which explains why they had a 37-42 record on the puckline last year but still finished up 15.39 units for the season.
If you bet $100 on the Caps on the puckline in each of their regular season games over the last three seasons, you’d be up $3436 or 34.36 units.
Not too shabby.
Best Under team: Los Angeles Kings
The Kings are one of the slowest-skating teams in the NHL and they used to have one of the best goalies in the world. Netminder Jonathan Quick missed all but 17 games last season and the Under still went 37-24-21 for the Kings in 2016-17.
That brought the Under win rate to 57.4 percent for the Kings in the regular season over the last four years. And that’s with this team seeing more 5-goal totals than any other team in the league.
Last season all seven teams in the Pacific division saw more Unders than Overs with the San Jose Sharks being the worst offenders with a 22-37-13 Over/Under record for the season.