In the NHL, unlike the NBA or NFL where most money is bet on the point spreads, most bets are placed on the moneyline for outright winners. Savvy bettors know there is money to made in hockey, because the parity of teams is so close and big, NHL consensus picks very often find themselves on the losing end - especially in the playoffs.
NHL Consensus Odds
Betting against the Public Consensus in NHL
Let’s take a look at the early betting for a Friday night game between the Wild and Capitals. As of the wee hours of Friday morning, 82 percent of the registered bets at sportsbooks were in favor of the Capitals, who at the time were defending Stanley Cup champions. Any time there is that much NHL public consensus on one team there is good opportunity for the “sharps” out there.
In betting vernacular, the general betting public rallying around an NHL consensus picks are the “squares” and much of the rest are the “sharps,” people who study the flow of the lines all day and move in when they think the squares have gone too far on one side. It’s also called “betting the fade” against the public, or being the “contrarian.” A sharp looking at the Minnesota-Washington NHL public betting might be very tempted to, therefore, bet on the Wild, because of a potentially bigger payout on the underdog win. Early Friday morning, the Wild were at +148 for a while on the moneyline, an attractive underdog price for a team that almost always is in close games.
Teams that play in big markets with huge fan followings (Toronto, Chicago, Montreal, etc.) often get plenty of “square” money, because their fans just love them so much. The sharp is always on the lookout for opportunities against these types of teams. The sportsbooks are always on the lookout for the sharps, too, so they’ll adjust the odds/line more when they see too much of the consensus money going on the favorite.
As we’ve discussed in other hockey betting outlooks, it’s a simpler sport to bet on in some ways, because “the spread” is almost always that same 1.5 goals. The spread, or puck line, just doesn’t generate as much action as the tried and true moneyline. But it’s a lively sport bet on, in one sense, because most games are so close and often go down to the wire. Upsets happen with regularity, especially in the Stanley Cup playoffs, so knowing when to go against the NHL betting consensus is the key to being a top hockey sports bettor.
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