NHL Betting Trends: Home Cooking and Squad Goals

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NHL Betting Trends: Home Cooking and Squad Goals

Last Updated: 2016-12-27

Home teams are still putting up impressive numbers in the National Hockey League, but we may be seeing the beginning of a leveling off, as they haven’t been able to keep up with their torrid start. While the season-long statistics still look pretty good, it’s our job as sports bettors to try and stay one step ahead of the sportsbooks rather than one step behind.

For the 2016-17 NHL season, home teams are 304-211, good for a $3,200 flat-bet profit and a 4.5% ROI, but a closer examination will show that home teams are just 92-79 in December with an average price of -140, which has yielded a flat-bet loss of just over $1,000. That 92-79 record translates to 53.8%, which is much closer to the 54.5% winning percentage of home teams since the start of the 2010-11 season.

Both home favorites and home underdogs have shown a flat-bet loss so far in December, although that could change in the next few days, as teams return to action tonight.

One of the few trends involving home teams that has shown a profit is December has been home favorites with no rest against a team off of a home victory, as these teams have gone 4-1 this month and are 10-1 on the season, which is still much higher than the long-term winning percentage of 61%.

December is also starting to show a bit of separation between the haves and have-nots, as favorites of -170 and greater have gone 32-13 this month, good for a +500 flat-bet profit and an ROI of 5.4%. These teams were 45-26 through November and showed a flat-bet loss of just over $400.

December has also seen an increase in scoring, with teams averaging 2.8 goals per game, as opposed to 2.7 for the season. While that doesn’t seem like much, it has made a difference in low totals. When we last looked at NHL trends on Nov. 28, games with a total of 5 had gone 49-51-48, while in December these games have gone 46-28-24. Strangely, games with a total of 5.5 have gone under more frequently this month, going just 52-90 in December after going 76-103 to start the season.

Teams with the best over percentage so far this season have been Pittsburgh (22-9-4, 9-3 December), New York Rangers (18-12-6, 5-5-2 December) and Philadelphia (18-13-5, 4-6-2 December).

Teams with the best under percentage this season have been San Jose (6-18-10, 4-2-4 December), Arizona (10-21-3, 3-9-1 December) and Columbus (10-18-4, 3-6-2 December).

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Nashville Predators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup Finals Series Odds, Pick, & Prediction

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Nashville Predators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup Finals Series Odds, Pick, & Prediction

Last Updated: 2017-05-27

When the Nashville Predators take the ice on Monday night for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the franchise will officially make its first finals appearance. When the Pittsburgh Penguins take the ice on Monday night for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, it will be with a title defense in mind. The reigning champions hold home ice advantage over the wild card Predators and are the favorite to lift that beautiful piece of silver. Both teams have faced their share of adversity throughout these playoffs and throughout the regular season. It should be a great series with a lot of compelling games and storylines.

For the first time in Stanley Cup history, coaches born in the United States will square off. Nashville head coach Peter Laviolette was behind the bench when the Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup in 2006, making him the fourth American-born coach to win the Cup. Now, he’s the fourth coach all-time to lead three different teams to the Stanley Cup Finals. Along with Carolina, Laviolette led the Philadelphia Flyers to the Finals in 2010. Mike Sullivan is looking for a repeat performance of last year’s Stanley Cup victory. Sullivan took over for the final 54 games of the regular season after the Penguins fired Mike Johnston and Pittsburgh hit a second gear. The Penguins are now 28-15 in the postseason under Sullivan and are definitely the team to beat in this series.

Odds courtesy of DSI Sportsbook.

Here is the schedule for the Stanley Cup Finals:

Game 1: Monday May 29 @ Pittsburgh, 8 p.m. ET

Game 2: Wednesday May 31 @ Pittsburgh, 8 p.m. ET

Game 3: Saturday June 3 @ Nashville, 8 p.m. ET

Game 4: Monday June 5 @ Nashville, 8 p.m. ET

Game 5: Thursday June 8 @ Pittsburgh, 8 p.m. ET

Game 6: Sunday June 11 @ Nashville, 8 p.m. ET

Game 7: Wednesday June 14 @ Pittsburgh, 8 p.m. ET

Nashville Predators (+144)

The Nashville Predators may have been the eighth seed to qualify for the playoffs in the Western Conference, but nobody believed Nashville to be an eighth seed. The advanced metrics crowd wasn’t the least bit surprised when the Predators swept the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round and they aren’t the least bit surprised to see Nashville in this series. The Predators have the best group of defensemen in the NHL, anchored by PK Subban and Roman Josi. Peter Laviolette has a tremendous knack for deploying those two assets, as well as Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm, in situations where they can have the most success. It has been a formula that has worked well in these playoffs. Ellis, Subban, Ekholm, and Josi have combined for 39 points in these playoffs while all logging over 24 minutes per game.

What the 18 skaters are doing on a nightly basis for the Predators hasn’t come as much of a shock. The one glaring question mark for the Preds coming into the postseason was Pekka Rinne. Well, Rinne has won 12 of his 16 games with a 1.70 GAA and a .941 SV%. He’s been the better goaltender by a clear margin in two of Nashville’s three series and was able to hold it together while his team tried to solve Anaheim’s John Gibson in the last round. He’ll have to continue to do that because this is the type of series where the loss of Ryan Johansen can be a huge deal. The Penguins excel at puck possession and are arguably the best team in the NHL in transition. Having a big body down the middle that can create havoc, possess the puck, and have a scorer’s touch is so big, but Johansen had to undergo emergency surgery for acute compartment syndrome and his dreams of playing in the Stanley Cup Finals will have to wait. Johansen had 13 points in 14 games before being felled by the freak injury. That means extra pressure on guys like Filip Forsberg, who has 15 points in 16 games, and James Neal, who only has seven points in 16 games. Colton Sissons had a hat trick in the decisive Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals to more than double his goal output.

One of my favorite things to watch in this series will be the Peter Laviolette vs. Mike Sullivan chess match. The reason that the Penguins are so successful is that they are impossible to match up against. Do you stack up against Sidney Crosby’s line or do you try to neutralize Evgeni Malkin’s line? Neutralizing both is a Herculean task, but one that Nashville is one of the few teams equipped to handle because they have four terrific defensemen.

Pittsburgh Penguins (-166)

The Pittsburgh Penguins lost guys left and right throughout the regular season. Guys have been in and out of the lineup in the playoffs. Matt Murray got hurt in warmups of the first game of the first playoff series and the Penguins had to turn to Marc-Andre Fleury. When Fleury faltered against the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Finals, Murray got thrown back into the fire. Through it all, the deepest team in the NHL persevered and now has a chance to be the first repeat Stanley Cup champion since the 1997 and 1998 Detroit Red Wings. That Red Wings dynasty and those years of success in the mid-to-late ‘90s and beyond was something we thought that we would never see in the current landscape of the NHL. Parity reigns supreme, but the Penguins are still in this position and that’s a testament to this roster, this organization, and this coaching staff.

In his four starts and one relief appearance, Matt Murray stopped 123 of the 130 shots that he faced. That’s good for a .946 SV% and a 1.35 GAA. He’ll be the guy in the spotlight and really shores up about the only question mark that we had about the Penguins. Pittsburgh has been challenged in the playoffs, but they’ve answered the bell every time. Fleury carried Pittsburgh through a lackluster series against the Capitals, but the Penguins were clearly the better team against the scrappy Senators and outclassed the Blue Jackets in the first round. It helps to have two of the best players on the planet in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Malkin has 24 points in 19 games and Crosby has 20 in 18 games. He missed a game due to a concussion in the second round, but has been no worse for the wear. Phil Kessel’s point-per-game pace in the playoffs has continued with 19 in 19 games and Jake Guentzel leads the team with nine goals.

The Penguins have so much team speed and transition ability that it’s hard to defend them. They also play “playoff hockey”, in the sense that every shift is max effort and I haven’t seen a better team on the backcheck in these playoffs. What’s interesting about that is that Nashville’s strength is clearly its defensemen and their ability to work up in the offense. That could slow down Pittsburgh’s offensive transition game. This is going to be a highly technical series for both teams and one that should be quite enjoyable.

Series Pick: Pittsburgh in 7

When breaking down this series as a whole, there are two concerns for me about Nashville that are too much to overlook. Will Pekka Rinne be able to go stride-for-stride with Matt Murray and will Nashville be able to score enough goals? The Penguins have two bona fide lines of offense. The Predators rely heavily on offense from defense and the loss of Johansen certainly doesn’t help in that department. The heavy defensive responsibilities of PK Subban and Roman Josi, likely against the Crosby line, and the same for Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm, likely against the Malkin line, are going to take the focus away from offense. It’s tiring to defend world-class players and it will likely hurt Nashville’s explosiveness from the blue line.

The biggest question for Pittsburgh is how much juice is left in the tank. This is a team that endured a ton of injuries in the regular season and several guys have been banged up during the postseason. They just played seven games with Ottawa when they shouldn’t have had to and played a high-octane, physical series with Washington prior to that. The Predators don’t feel like they’ve been tested as much and should be the fresher team. That’s why I’ll push this series out to seven, but it does feel like the Penguins should win.

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