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NHL's opening month proves quite chalky

By Steve Makinen  () 

(To view the chart accompanying this report, subscribe to Point Spread Weekly)

In last week’s Point Spread Weekly, I discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic had thrown a massive wrench into NBA betting results, with underdogs on an unprecedented run. Those findings led me to examine what was happening in the NHL. What I found astounded me. Favorites enjoyed their best month to start the season since I began tracking NHL data in the 1996-97 campaign.

 

This doesn’t make much sense to me. In the NBA, I surmised underdogs were doing so well because personnel situations and lack of fans created motivational vacuums, and typically favorites short on motivation don’t fare as well. But that doesn’t seem to be the case for NHL favorites, who are thriving. It seems NHL underdogs are lacking the energy to beat better teams, and that energy can come from playing in full arenas.

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