The puck drops Monday night for the NHL playoffs. It’s the time of year hockey buffs live for — the intensity of playoff hockey is unrivaled — but the excitement can cause bettors to get overzealous, which can lead to bad judgment at the betting windows.
If you stick to a set of fundamentals, though, the NHL playoffs can be quite rewarding. For instance, home ice doesn’t mean nearly as much as the talking heads would have you believe. Also, more intensity doesn’t equate to more goals (in fact, it’s the opposite). Furthermore, teams are motivated by certain factors within a series, and at the top of that list is losing games.
With that in mind, here are 12 betting systems I’ve uncovered from the last decade of the NHL playoffs (grouped in five different areas).
Key home/road stats
— Road teams have been the better investment over the last five non-neutral postseasons, going 209-224 for + 26.55 units and an ROI of 6.1%. Home teams have lost 71.8 units with an ROI of -16.6% in the same span.
— On a round-by-round basis over the last 10 postseasons, home teams have only been profitable in the second round. Here are the round-by-round numbers for home teams:
First round: 217-196 (-56.85 units, -13.8% ROI)
Second round: 126-88 (+ 4.45 units, 2.1% ROI)
Conference finals: 55-53 (-20.15 units, -18.7% ROI)
Stanley Cup Finals: 30-22 (-0.45 units, -0.1% ROI)
— On a game-by-game basis, home teams have only been profitable in Game 6. Here are the game-by-game numbers for home teams:
Game 1: 76-58 (-11.1 units, -8.3% ROI)
Game 2: 71-65 (-32.1 units, -23.6% ROI)
Game 3: 71-64 (-5.85 units, -4.3% ROI)
Game 4: 72-63 (-3.15 units, -2.3% ROI)
Game 5: 66-52 (-18.1 units, -15.3% ROI)
Game 6: 51-37 (+ 6.7 units, 7.6% ROI)
Game 7: 21-20 (-9.4 units, -22.9% ROI)
Angles based on status of the series
— Betting on teams trailing in a series has been a far better option than backing teams leading a series. Teams trailing in a series are 275-269 for + 6.45 units and an ROI of + 1.2%. Teams leading a series have lost -63.1 units for an ROI of -11.6%.
— When it comes to the end of a series, the trailing/leading trend flips. Over the last five postseasons, teams with a chance to close out a series before Game 7 are 57-39 for + 3.85 units and an ROI of 4.0%. Teams facing elimination before Game 7 have lost -15.85 units for an ROI of -16.5%.
Importance of -140 on the moneyline
— Over the last 10 postseasons, favorites of -140 or higher are 299-234 (56.1%) but have lost 92.95 units for an ROI of -17.4%. Favorites of -115 to -135 are a comparable 160-129 (55.4%) but have lost just 1.2 units for an ROI of -0.4%. So how rewarding has it been backing underdogs of + 120 or higher? That group has produced 37.35 units of profit for an ROI of 7.0%.
When in doubt, trust the Under
— Overs have produced a profit in only one of the last 10 postseasons (2014, + 36.1 units). In the other nine postseasons, Unders have gone 358-311 (53.5%), producing a profit of 20.9 units, while Overs have netted a loss of -143.5 units.
— The “zig-zag theory” is alive and well over the last 10 postseasons. Teams coming off a loss are 381-343 (52.6%) for an ROI of + 2.2%. On the other side, teams coming off a same-series win have lost 89.43 units for an ROI of -12.4%.
— Teams coming off a road loss are 181-149 (54.8%) for + 20.9 units and an ROI of 6.3%.
— Teams coming off a road win (and were favorites in that win) are just 30-29 (50.8%) for -18.4 units and an ROI of -31.1%!
— Teams coming off a shutout loss are on a 30-16 (65.2%) run over the last five postseasons, good for + 19.05 units and an ROI of 41.4%!
— Close losses have resulted in good bounce-back profits over the last 10 postseasons. Teams coming off a loss by one or two goals are 280-228 (55.1%) for + 29.85 units and an ROI of + 5.9%. By contrast, teams coming off a loss by 3+ goals are just 100-114 (46.7%) for -13.85 units and an ROI of -6.5%.