Four Strategies for Betting Totals in the NHL

By in NHL on
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We’ve talked about how to bet game totals for the 2021-22 NHL regular season, so let’s now focus on some specific handicapping strategies that a Hockey bettor can employ to make some money betting Totals at the top online sportsbooks.

When betting Sides and the Moneyline in Hockey the odds can be fairly high for bettors with teams seeing odds ranging from -105 to possibly and ridiculously (and extremely rare) highs like -300 to even the rare -400.

The odds in Totals markets are generally from Even money to maybe -145 at times, with oddsmakers and bookmakers able to raise or lower the actual Total in the game ½ goal depending on the amount of the action and their specific exposure.

Totals in the NHL are usually set at 5, 5½, 6, and 6½ (goals) with a 4½ or a 7 extremely rare in this day and age.

Winning teams averaged 3.03 gpg in the 868-game abbreviated 2020-21 NHL Regular Season while losers scored an average of 2.81 gpg, so games averaged a robust 5.84 gpg last campaign.

In 2019-20, a 1,082-game season, winners scored 2.94 gpg while losers tallied 2.74, for a total average of 5.68 gpg. The highest-scoring season in the last 20 was in 2005-06 when winners averaged 3.08 gpg and losers 2.92 gpg, or 6.00 gpg.

In 2003-04, there was just an average of 5.03 gpg, with 2.57 gpg for winning teams and 2.46 gpg for losing teams, so over the last two decades, Total goals per game (gpg) have been in about a 1.00 (goal) range over that span, between 5 and 6.

And so have the Totals oddsmakers have been setting on the betting board, with more 6’s and 6½’s than before with NHL scoring on the uptick.

Let’s look at four different ways NHL bettors can approach handicapping and/or betting on Totals.

1 – Betting on Recent Team, Series, or Hot Trends Totals

Some relatively simple Trends to stay on top are Recent Streaks and Hot Trends and can be found on the various sports gambling information sites, including recent Team (Over/Under Records last 10 games), Series, and quirky Hot Trends.Examples of Team Trends to start the 2021-22 NHL Regular Season included Penguins (3-0), Flyers (2-0), and Golden Knights (2-0) games OVER and Maple Leafs (4-0), Senators (3-0), Stars (3-0) and Rangers (3-0) games going UNDER.

Teams often go on scoring binges or lulls and oftentimes Travel can wear teams down and create both Overs and Unders for various energy-related reasons.

Series Totals Trends can be found easily and recency bias may be a good thing with the league evolving so much over the past two decades and coming back from an abbreviated 2020-21 season stunted by COVID-19.

A good example of a recent Team Series Trend is the OVER in Tampa Bay when the Panthers visit the Lightning at Amelie Arena in the Governor’s Cup (7-2, +4.8 units). The two met in TB on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2021, with the Total set at 6 and 6½.

Worth noting here in this particular example is the advantage of having multiple online accounts—and shopping around—as anyone wanting to bet the Over in this game could have found a 6 and won if there were 7 goals or more and pushed at 6.

But Totals Over players getting and betting at sportsbooks offering a 6½ would lose their bets if the Final Score were to have been 4-2, 5-1, or 6-0. So shopping around, paying attention, knowing what you want, and having multiple “outs” is very wise.

Another series where the UNDERs have been big?

The Blue Jackets (100/1 to win Stanley Cup, BetOnline) and Red Wings (200/1 to win Stanley Cup) where the Under was 59-40 (+14.3 units) and 28-20 (+6.1 units) in Hockeytown since 1996.

But the bettor had better have been beware in that spot as it was a delicate handicapping matter of conflicting Trends with the O in that spot as it was a matter of conflicting Trends with the Over 15-4-1 in the last 20 Blue Jackets games overall heading into that meeting at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.

And hot, long-term, and Day of the Week Totals Trends can be worth knowing. On Mondays, Totals trend toward the UNDER, while on TUESDAYS, the OVER seems stronger with teams either getting over weekend Travel or their Mondays Blahs.

Doing the online homework before the game or games you want to bet and isolating where perceived edges may lie is part of the beauty and hard work of becoming successful at sports handicapping and betting. It ain’t easy, Bubba.

And if Trends collide? There is nothing wrong with passing on an NHL game or Period as money still in your bankroll is ammo and not forcing bets just to have action and evolving a betting discipline is paramount to winning in the long run.

2 – Following and Betting Situational Totals

Betting on specific situational realities which could possibly affect the Final Score (and thus the Totals) in a given NHL game can also be an effective betting strategy.

Some examples include focusing on teams who are playing the second game of back-to-backs where stamina and Travel may affect one or both teams involved.

But betting a game Under because on is on the second night of straight Road back-to-backs might not be the best strategy at times with teams too tired to play good defense and the No. 2 goaltender often starting that second night of BTBs.

Another strategy might be betting Overs when you find out teams are starting their No. 2 (and sometimes No. 3) Goaltenders although trying to do so when teams have solid backup Goalie like the Islanders do with Ilya Sorokin and Corey Schneider.

One strategy gamblers could look at this year is Totals in the Islanders (18/1 to win Stanley Cup) first 13 games, all on the Road, the longest ever to open up a Regular Season and second-longest in NHL history.

In their first two games, New York—on the Road with its new UBS Arena in Belmont Park in Elmont, NY still being completed—went 0-2-0, losing 6-3 (Over) at Carolina in the opener and 5-1 (Push) at Florida in tough matchups for the Isles.

And with the two realities of a 13-game Road Trip to start the new season and starting Goaltender Semyon Varlamov (18-11-4, 2.04 GAA) out with an injury, maybe betting Islanders Road overs until they get Home is the betting Rx?

So being aware of the specific Travel, Scheduling, Starting Goaltenders, and all Injury situations can be a profitable endeavor for the disciplined Hockey bettor.

3 – Following-Betting Recent Road/Home Totals Trends

Keeping up to date on the current as well as last season’s Totals Trends at Home and on the Road is a very smart handicapping approach and can be combined with other current supporting Trends to push bettors to make automatic decisions.

Here are some of the stronger Site Trends from the 2020-21 Regular Season:

  • Red Wings Home Unders 20-8
  • Flames Road Unders 17-7-2
  • Islanders Home Unders 20-6-2
  • Sharks Home Overs 17-10-1
  • Wild Road Overs 18-10
  • Ducks Road Overs 17-10-1
  • Flyers Home and Road Overs 17-11

The Wild (25/1 to win Stanley Cup) were the best Road team on which to bet the OVER in the Totals market in the NHL last year with a profitable 18-10 (64.3%) mark with Minnesota Overs a healthy 34-22 (60.7%) overall.

The Sharks (100/1 to win Stanley Cup) ended with a 31-23-2 Totals record, going 17-10-1 at Home at the SAP Center in San José, California, and the Sharks season opener, at Home, ended 4-3 (Over) with the visiting Winnipeg Jets prevailing.

A solid Under team last season were the Ducks (200/1 to win Stanley Cup) with a 21-33-2 Totals mark overall, going 11-16-1 at Home at the Honda Center in Anaheim and 10-17-1 record on the Road.

And the Red Wings finished with a 21-34-1 Totals (61.8% Unders) record last season and went a very profitable 8-20 at Home at Little Caesars Arena in Hockeytown in the Over/Unders, making Under backers very happy.

4 – Following and Betting Individual Period Totals Trends

As we looked at in our NHL Period Betting primer, certain teams skew to Over and Unders in certain periods, but only a few of the now 32 NHL teams actually have profitable winning Trends in any given 20-minute period.

To start the 2021-22 season, the Rangers (18/1 to win Stanley Cup) played three First Period Unders while the Maple Leafs (9/1 to win Stanley Cup) saw three OVERS in the First Period of play but three UNDERS in the Second Period.

Last year in the NHL, the most profitable team OVER team in the First Period was the Wild (32-10 in First Periods, +11.44% ROI) with the Senators (35-19, +7.77% ROI) and Blues (31-23, +6.37% ROI) the other profitable 1P OVER teams.

Last season, the Lightning (+725 to win Stanley Cup) and the Chicago Blackhawks (45/1 to win Stanley Cup) each had lengthy First Period OVERS runs in the NHL.

And in the First Period UNDERS market, the Carolina Hurricanes were the team to bet 20-33, +23.38% ROI on Unders) with the Blue Jackets (34-22, +8.07% ROI) and Lightning (31-23, +7.81% ROI) were both also solid First Period Under teams.

Conclusion

There are 1,312 games this 2021-22 NHL Regular Season and with Game, Team, Period and In-Game Totals, there and more than enough markets to bet the Over or the Under in and almost now at any point whether a game has started or not.

Cherry-picking the best games, markets and the spots to bet is almost an art but knowing things like the Leafs started with three First Period OVERS then had three Second Period UNDERS means doing your homework on the NHL.

And simply knowing that doesn’t guarantee anything with the critical decision-making processes of 1—Do I Bet This Game? (Yes-No); 2—What Market(s)Do I Bet? And the critical 3—What Amount? All big decisions.

Winning consistently in sports Gambling and Hockey is extremely hard, but knowing who’s hot at what and often riding the betting bandwagon is a good way to boost your bankroll, and Totals are an excellent way to do so.

And if you get good enough and make your own Final Score projections for games, you can also find perceived “holes” in lines, but knowing things like Trends, Injuries, starting Goaltenders, and where to find the best odds are all part of the bigger mix.

Kevin Stott

Kevin Stott is a sports writer who has covered the Sports Gambling industry for over 20 years, handicapping sporting events for SportsbookReview, Gaming Today and Bleacher/Report and was an award-winning writer for the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s View Newspapers. Stott is an avid sports bettor and a graduate of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. ...

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