Betting NHL Totals
by Mike @ Predictem.com
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There are so many good reasons to bet the over or under in a hockey game, but let's start with the most important reason. Because it's the easiest form of sports betting to beat! Don't believe us? Then why do you think the bookies put such low limits on totals wagers? Uh huh. You guessed it, their limiting their exposure and liability to sharp bettors who study the necessary stats, trends, injuries, Special team stats and all the rest of the variables that go into being a winning totals bettor.
Totals betting is an exciting way to go. If you like "unders" you are winning the bet right from the get go and you hang on to every shot and odd man rush. If you like the overs you'll be pulling for lots of power plays and a free flowing exciting up tempo game. Either way, it is much like betting favorites and dogs. Pick what your good at and stay on that side of the ledger.
Another reason to bet totals is that the juice is low, as is the risk. A game that may interest you like like the Colorado Avalanche vs Detroit Red Wings may get priced way out of favour like -190 if you select Detroit but the Total of 5.5 may only be -110 O/U. The game now is to decide which side of that number we want to be on.
Unlike other sports where the oddsmaker knows the general public will be eyeing the over, hockey totals are generally the same day to day with general fluctuation of a goal to a goal and half. Most of the totals you see will be 5.5. Back in the high flying 80's, teams like the Edmonton Oilers would routinely get 7 and 8's hung on their totals.
Today's game is very well coached, players are in excellent condition and the salary cap era has the teams very competitive. This equates to lesser wild swings in performance on a nightly basis. NHL ice hockey has come of age and is a mainstream professional sport.
Let's have a quick overview of what is important to look for when betting a hockey total. Head to head trends are a good place to start as some divisional opponents play each other 8 times a year. During the regular season they may have wide open pond hockey type of games, then if they happen to meet in the playoffs that could all change and a defensive style game could prevail. So don't just look at the trends of the team, look at when they took place.
I don't buy into too many other trends other than early week vs weekend games. A Saturday night crowd is going to be more up for the game and you better believe that a team feeds off that energy. Conversely early week crowds can be a bit subdued and the games are a bit more low scoring.
The next thing to look at is injuries. Are there any key goal scorers out? How about the starting goalies? Most bettors think that if a number one goalie like Roberto Luongo or Marty Brodeur is out that the total will soar over. This is not sound thinking. Typically what happens is the team will be more mindful of their defensive play in order to help the backup goalie get a win. Also remember that the backup goalie is trying to earn more playing time, so it's not like he will be a wet paper bag in there.
Typically, a back up goalie will get a start when the team is in back to back game situations. Check out the local news or our sports forum for information on who's in net!
Another key variable to assess before you bet NHL totals... you need to look at the power play and penalty kill percentage of the teams playing. Most stat sites like Winners Edge will tell you how a team is trending in the last 5 games and over the season. This is important to use as there is ebb and flow to the special teams performance.
Lastly keep an eye on juice and line movement. If a total looks too good to be true, dig a little deeper. The oddsmaker probably knows something you don't. When capping totals, try using that information to pick the winner, sometimes it can be very profitable to parlay the total and the moneyline together to improve the odds of your wager.
In closing, remember trends, injuries & stats will help you understand what could happen in a game. Be sure to keep track of your results. Learn from the games that you both win and lose. It's a great way to become a better handicapper, reflecting on how well you handicapped the game before you charge on to the next one!
Good luck with your totals bets!
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