Market Insights: NHL betting angles


The NHL All-Star break has come and gone. The unofficial second half of the season kicks off today. With it comes the beginning of the stretch run and march to the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

When betting hockey, it's important to remember several key variables. First off, there is no "public" betting the NHL. It is the least popular major sport in terms of casual wagering. Because the ticket counts are low, there is very little contrarian value to be had. There isn't enough public to bet against. 


On the other hand, the majority of hockey bettors are either die-hards who know the game or wiseguys with an edge. As a result, following line movement is key because it's being driven by mostly pros putting down smart money. 

At Circa Sports, NHL limits on overnight lines are $2K for moneylines, $1K for totals and $1K for spread bets, also known as the puck-line. On gameday, limits are raised to $5K for moneylines, $2K for totals and $2K for spread bets. So just like other sports, game-day movement is key because that's when the bigger, sharper players get down hard.

Aside from following line movement, bettors can also focus on goaltenders matchups, goal differential, home vs road splits and rest vs tired situations. Remember, hockey is a moneyline sport– you only have to pick the winner of the game, not who covers. 

Monday's action features 6 NBA games, 16 college basketball games and 6 NHL games. For an updated breakdown of sharp action across the marketplace, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Let's discuss a trio of Monday games receiving smart money.

7 p.m. ET: Washington Capitals (33-11-5) at Montreal Canadiens (22-21-7)
Unlike other sports, hockey provides a unique opportunity bet on favorites. Since 2005, favorites have won at a 58% clip, but lost -281.5 units due to laying the minus price. That doesn't sound very impressive. But in comparison, dogs have won at a 42% rate and lost -437.43 units. The key is focusing on road favorites. They've won at a 57% clip and but profited %plussign% 2.99 units. In others words, blindly betting road favorites has been profitable over the last 15%plussign%  years. The Capitals fit the bill tonight. Washington also boasts a %plussign% 33 goal differential (Montreal is -2) and the Caps are 18-6-1 on the road while the Habs are 10-12-4 at home. The Caps are -120 and the Habs are %plussign% 110. 

7:30 p.m. ET: New Jersey Devils (17-24-7) at Ottawa Senators (17-23-8)
This is the least appealing game on Monday's slate but it still offers excellent value to savvy bettors. Both teams are nearly dead-even in terms of won-loss records. But a closer look at the numbers tells a different story. The Devils have a goal differential (goals scored vs. goals against) of -47. The Senators are -33. New Jersey is 10-15 on the road while Ottawa is 12-8-4 at home. This line opened with Ottawa listed as a short -120 home favorite and the line has risen closer to -130 across the market. This season, when two bad teams face off (win percentage of less than 50%), the favorite has gone 82-45 (65%). 

10 p.m. ET: St. Louis Blues (30-11-8) at Vancouver Canucks (27-18-4)
Of all the Monday games, this Western Conference showdown has seen the biggest line movement. The Blues, who just hosted the All-Star game, are %plussign% 24 in goal differential. The Canucks are %plussign% 13. St. Louis is 21-13 as a favorite while Vancouver is 11-13 as a dog. This line opened at a pick'em and sharps have sided with the defending champs, moving the line to Blues -120, Canucks %plussign% 100. Historically, non-division road favorites are 57.2% since 2005 according to Bet Labs Sports. The Blues have also lost two in a row while the Canucks have won two in a row, creating a buy low, sell high value play on St. Louis. 

Stanley Cup Champion at Circa Sports
Bruins %plussign% 750
Capitals, Lightning %plussign% 1000
Penguins %plussign% 1100
Blues, Stars, Avalanche %plussign% 1200
Maple Leafs %plussign% 1600
Golden Knights, Hurricanes %plussign% 1800
Islanders %plussign% 2000
Coyotes, Predators, Flyers %plussign% 2500
Flames %plussign% 3000
Panthers %plussign% 3500
Canucks %plussign% 4000