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With players allowed back on the ice and team training camps just weeks away, the NHL is gearing up for their unprecedented playoff format set to resume in late July. While the 24-team playoff is unorthodox, the game itself remains the same, so we can expect to see the usual intensity we’ve learned to love. With that, let’s examine some key betting insights that can help us handicap these playoffs better.
Since 2005, favorites have won 58.5% of postseason games. This is essentially the same rate as regular-season favorites who win at a 58.7% rate. Nonetheless, it’s an important statistic to know considering hockey is primarily bet as a moneyline sport. Meaning bettors only need to pick which team will win the game outright.
Digging deeper, postseason road favorites have won at a 60.4% rate. This percentage skyrockets to 66.3% if the visitor is coming off a loss as the threat of elimination looms. With no fans in the stands to begin the postseason, “home ice” is nearly nonexistent, so this number may balloon. At the very least, it’s something to consider as there’s potential for fans to return as the playoffs advance.
Previous Playoff Experience
Another critical element to consider is the previous playoff experience. Series favorites have been victorious 63.2% of the time when playing a team who missed the postseason the year prior. The pressure, exhaustion, and other ancillary rigors that accompany playoff hockey are a feat to overcome in themselves.
Many bettors’ eyes get big when they see the long odds on the Puckline – which is the 1.5 spread on each game. Favorites that are -1.5, must win by two goals in order for the bet to cash. While dogs +1.5, must either win or only lose by one goal outright. It’s not uncommon to see a -1.5 – +180 Puckline – meaning laying $100 would net you $180.
While the return on favorites is nice, it’s not a wise strategy to utilize come playoff time. Since 2005, postseason dogs have covered the playoff Puckline 69.7% of the time. While they’re typically juiced heavy, the nearly 70% cover rate is hard to overlook and a worthwhile betting consideration.
As the game has become even faster and more skillful this past decade, the NHL has seen a major increase in scoring. However, come playoff time, we see scoring balance out as teams play a tighter defensive game. In Games 1-6, the totals rate leans ever so slightly to the under at a 50.5% rate – while in Game 7, the under improves to a 58.8% clip. Meaning, we may want to stay away from totals bets until a bonafide Game 7 presents itself, and we typically see a few of those throughout the duration of the postseason.