NHL Betting: Hockey Totals Trends
by Dave Schwab - 3/24/2011
The NHL regular season is winding down as teams continue to jockey for position for the upcoming playoffs. While the majority of people that regularly wager on hockey tend to focus their NHL handicapping efforts on the money line, there is plenty of value to be mined from the total line if you take the time to analyze the numbers.
The total line in hockey is a fairly stationary number that ranges from a low of five to a high of six for every single game played. The overall trend in the NHL leans toward lower scores as 53.85 percent of all games this season have stayed ‘under’ the total. The numbers fluctuate slightly for games that end in regulation (54.14 percent) and overtime (52.96 percent), but in general there is a certain amount of value in leaning toward the ‘under’ in every single game.
The next trick is to find which teams support this pattern with a low-scoring offense and a shut-down defense. It is also possible to find some value with the ‘over’ by looking for teams that tend to score a lot of goals, but are unable to keep their opponents out of their own net.
Chicago, Vancouver, and Philadelphia are the three highest scoring teams in the league with a 3.19 goals per game average, but all three teams are in the top-half of the league in goals allowed so they do not fit our pattern. Edmonton, Ottawa, and New Jersey are the three lowest scoring teams, but the Oilers and the Senators are also giving up more than three goals a game, taking them out of the equation. New Jersey is only giving up 2.53 goals a game so it could be a likely candidate for an ‘under’ team.
When comparing average goals scored against average goals allowed there are two teams that jump out at both ends of the spectrum: Colorado and Washington. The Colorado Avalanche offer the most value in terms of playing the ‘over’ line. They are scoring 2.75 goals a game while giving up 3.51 goals. When you compare these numbers to their season performance against the total line you find that 45 of the 71 games they have played this season have gone ‘over’ the total, which equates to 63.4 percent of the time. The next best team that fits this pattern is the New York Islanders, who are scoring 2.76 goals and giving up 3.11. The total has gone ‘over’ in 41 of 70 games, or 58.6 percent of the time.
The Washington Capitals offer a tremendous amount of value in relation to playing the ‘under’ line. They are scoring an average of 2.69 goals a game and giving up just 2.36 goals a game, which is third best in the NHL. Comparing these numbers to their performance against the total line you find that 53 of their 73 games played so far have stayed ‘under’ the total, which happens to be 72.6 percent of the time. The next closest team is Pittsburgh, which has had 62.9 percent of its games stay ‘under’. Going back to our earlier look at the New Jersey, you find that the total has stayed ‘under’ in just 57 percent of its games.
Recent trends for the Avalanche and Capitals tend to support the season trends as the total has gone ‘over’ in seven of Colorado’s last eight games and in 10 of its last 13 games. In Washington’s case the total has actually gone ‘over’ in three of its last five games so the current trend bears watching, but when you extend these numbers out a bit you find that the total has stayed ‘under’ in nine of its last 12 games.
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