Start of NHL Season Gives NJ & PA Sportsbooks More Options
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The NHL opens its 103rd season Wednesday with five games. In the shortened 2021 season, each team will play only 56 games because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Wednesday night will provide opportunities for NHL betting at New Jersey and Pennsylvania sportsbooks, where interest will be high because of the New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers and New York Islanders.
“Given that the NHL season normally starts in October and doesn't battle the NFL playoffs right out of the gate, this year's return to hockey will certainly be a bit different,” PointsBet Sports Analyst Michael Korn said. "The NFL may overshadow the NHL a bit at the beginning of the season, but will ultimately allow for a bigger pickup later in the year (and overall) when football ends.
“Also, just like the NBA's fast restart, it is important to note that last season is still fresh in everyone’s mind and as a result, we do expect hockey to see some of the benefit that basketball displayed in its return to action.”
“Given our recent launch in the state of Colorado, combined with the fact that the Avs are projected to have a great year, we are seeing an overwhelming amount of bets come in on them to win it all,” Korn said. “We are currently seeing them double the second-highest team (Chicago Blackhawks) in terms of bet count; 23% of the overall bets to win the Stanley Cup are on the Avs, while the Blackhawks are a distant second with 9.5% of the bet count.”
Prior to the start of the season, Rush Street Interactive’s BetRivers and SugarHouse are seeing top handle for these top four teams: Colorado Avalanche 24.78%, Pittsburgh Penguins 13.67%, Philadelphia Flyers 13.25% and Vegas Golden Knights 11.15%.
“The lead-up to the season has been kind of muted really due to the late start date. You are smack in the middle of the NFL playoffs and that is certainly where the bettors’ attention is. We’ve taken some respected money on yes/no playoff props and season point totals but the average Joe bettor just isn’t focused on hockey at the moment,” said Thomas Gable, director of race and sportsbook at Borgata Casino and Resort in Atlantic City. “It’s always nice though to have an everyday sport return, so that being said, I would expect normal wagering volume once we get the season going.”
High on the Local Teams
Not surprisingly, the most popular teams in the Stanley Cup future markets at Borgata are the New York Rangers, the New York Islanders and the Flyers, along with the Avalanche. The Rangers have attracted more than double the amount of wagers than any other team.
DraftKings is also seeing interest in the lead up to the season.
“The new season is highly anticipated after having only a partial regular season last year. With college football ending Monday night and NFL games decreasing over the coming weeks with the league ending on Feb. 7 for Super Bowl Sunday, the NHL is welcomed by both bettors and bookmakers,” said Johnny Avello, head of sportsbook operations for DraftKings. “Right now, the Avalanche are taking money in the futures and are now the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. The Flyers, Rangers and Islanders are attracting considerable future play at the regional locations.”
Wednesday’s opening slate features a handful of rivalries: Pittsburgh at Philadelphia, Montreal at Toronto, Chicago at Tampa Bay, Vancouver at Edmonton and St. Louis at Colorado.