Early 2021 NHL Takeaways: Favorites and Overs off to a hot start


Happy Thursday! We have an action packed betting menu today with 3 NBA games, 6 NHL games and 30-plus college hoops matchups. For an updated breakdown of Thursday's betting action, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at noon ET.

In the meantime, let's discuss some early NHL betting takeaways


The 2021 NHL season just finished its first full week of action. And while the sample size may be small, with most teams playing three or four games, we are starting to see some trends that could provide insight into how this unusual season might play out. Here's a look at some early results…

Favorites Dominating
Like baseball, hockey is a predominantly moneyline sport. While the spread, also known as the puck-line, is available as a betting option (favorite -1.5 goals, dog %plussign% 1.5 goals), the most popular bet type is centered upon which team will win the game. However, because you're laying a minus price with a favorite, typically -125, -150 or -200, you need to win at a much higher rate than 51% in order to turn a profit. Instead, you have to win closer to 60% of the time.

So far this season, favorites are 31-19 (62%). You are slightly in the green betting every favorite, but not by as much as you'd think with such a high win rate (favorites are roughly %plussign% 1.5 units overall). Big favorites -200 or more are 7-1 (88%) to start the season.

Home Favorites
Home favorites have been particularly profitable, going 20-9 (69%). This is a bit of a surprise because we've seen road teams perform much better overall in spread sports like the NFL and NBA in 2021. This is largely due to the lack of home field (or home court) advantage. You would think without fans in the stands it would level the playing field and benefit the road team, but thus far we've seen NHL home favorites win at much higher rate than road favorites (11-10, 52%).

Favorites Off a Loss
One noticeable edge to favorites thus far is betting favorites that lost their previous game. These teams are 11-3 (79%). This speaks to the "bounce back" factor and teams having added motivation to get back in the win column after a disappointing loss. If they're expected to win by the oddsmakers and they're hungry to avenge a loss in the previous game, they are winning nearly 80% of the time thus far. On the other hand, favorites off a win are just 11-10 (52.4%). This speaks to the difficulty of keeping momentum going early in an unusual season.

Favorites on a Back-to-Back
One big scheduling change this year has been teams playing two-game series against the same opponent, some of which are played on back-to-back nights. This is a unique "scheduling spot" that should be closely monitored the rest of the season. Thus far, favorites on the second night of a back-to-back against the same opponent are 4-1 (80%).

Zig-Zag Theory
We've also noticed that teams who lost the first game of a back-to-back have rebounded to go 4-1 in the next game. This is often referred to as a classic "zig zag" situation leading to far more series splits than sweeps.

Overs Cashing
If you like rooting for goals, the first week of the NHL season has been highly enjoyable. So far, overs are 27-22-1 (55%). If the total is 6 or less, the over improves to 22-16-1 (58%).

Back-to-Back Unders
One spot where unders have done well is in the second leg of a back-to-back. In this situation, the under is 4-1 so far. This may speak to the fatigue factor and also knowing your opponent's tendencies and having familiarity with how to defend them, leading to lower scoring games.

Most Profitable Teams
Devils 2-1 (%plussign% 1.95 units)
Knights (4-0, %plussign% 1.92 units)
Flyers 3-1 (%plussign% 1.75 units)
Red Wings 2-2 (%plussign% 1.52 units)

Least Profitable Teams
Blackhawks 0-4 (-4 units)
Kings 0-3 (-3 units)
Blue Jackets 1-3 (-2.44 units)
Sabres 1-3 (-1.73 units)

Best Over teams
Penguins 4-0
Coyotes 4-0
Canucks 4-1
Sharks 3-1
Blackhawks 3-1
Flyers 3-1
Caps 3-1
Knights 3-1

Best Under Teams
Bruins 3-0
Islanders 3-0
Blue Jackets 3-1
Red Wings 3-1

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