NHL weekly betting guide: True moneylines for every game
We've addressed what happens to a team's rating in the betting market when a key player goes out twice this season. The Panthers' Aaron Ekblad and Avalanche's Nathan MacKinnon missed more than 10 games. That gave us a window into how the market prices a multi-dimensional defenseman and a star forward out of a moneyline. But what happens when a team gets back a key player or two after not having them all season?
Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson made their season debuts for the Capitals on Jan. 8. They're two stars of the club's 2018 Stanley Cup victory and still in their theoretical prime.
Knowing Washington would be without those players for roughly half the campaign, the market rated the Capitals as an average team before the season and lined them at 94.5 points (1.15 PPG). The Caps were almost exactly at that projection through 42 games, accumulating 50 points (1.19 PPG).
Accidentally or by design, Backstrom and Wilson returned the week the Capitals had three games over nine days and faced lesser competition in the Blue Jackets and Flyers (twice). In their first contest, we had Washington with a fair projected win probability of 76% without Backstrom and Wilson. However, its moneyline was -365 - an implied win probability of 78%. Two percent is a negligible difference after the sportsbook applies the vigorish, so there was almost no adjustment to the return of two key players.
The Capitals beat Columbus but lost the next two games against the Flyers. Backstrom and Wilson have combined for just one assist in three contests. If you were excited to bet on Washington due to the team getting big-name reinforcements and with moneylines of -185 and -225 against Philadelphia, you'd be down three units over three games.
We started the campaign using regular-season point totals as a baseline for rating teams since it's our best measurement. Throughout the campaign, we adjust club ratings using on-ice metrics to remove the cognitive bias of win-loss records, which can be skewed by outliers like special-teams results, poor goaltending performances, and other unreliable events.
The cheat sheet
There are no bad bets at the right price, but how do we know what a good price is?
The following includes my fair price on the games (true moneyline) and the moneyline price I'd need to bet either side. I only need a 1% edge for a favorite if we're getting better than a fair price on the team more likely to win. For the underdog, I'll need 4% or better to make it a bet. For games I project to be closer to a coin flip, a 2.5% edge is enough for a worthwhile wager. I also have a 5% win probability consideration for a team playing in the second game of a back-to-back with travel and a 3% consideration for a team on the second leg of a back-to-back without travel. When it comes to injured players, I do my best to estimate the impact on their team's win probability.
When the betting markets open up the night before, you can compare those prices with our "price to bet" column to see if you're getting any value with either side's moneyline. There's also a possibility that a moneyline moves into a bet-friendly range at some point between market open and puck drop.
|DATE||GAME||TRUE ML||PRICE TO BET|
|Jan. 16||PHI@BOS||+236/-236||PHI +288/BOS -225|
|FLA@BUF||-143/+143||FLA -138/BUF +170|
|DET@COL||+177/-177||DET +212/COL -170|
|TBL@SEA||-134/+134||TBL -129/SEA +159|
|NJD@SJS||-134/+134||NJD -125/SJS +154|
|DAL@VGK||+127/-127||DAL +150/VGK -122|
|ANA@PIT||+198/-198||ANA +238/PIT -189|
|NYR@CBJ||-129/+129||NYR -124/CBJ +152|
|WSH@NYI||+107/-107||WSH +118/NYI +104|
|OTT@STL||-107/+107||OTT +104/STL +118|
|CGY@NSH||+103/-103||CGY +114/NSH +107|
|Jan. 17||FLA@TOR||+150/-150||FLA +178/TOR -144|
|WPG@MTL||-131/+131||WPG -126/MTL +155|
|MIN@WSH||-117/+117||MIN -113/WSH +138|
|ANA@PHI||+141/-141||ANA +167/PHI -135|
|CBJ@NSH||+276/-276||CBJ +343/NSH -263|
|BUF@CHI||+100/+100||BUF +110/CHI +110|
|DET@ARI||+100/+100||DET +110/ARI +110|
|SEA@EDM||+173/-173||SEA +206/EDM -166|
|Jan. 18||PIT@OTT||+106/-106||PIT +117/OTT +105|
|BOS@NYI||-123/+123||BOS -118/NYI +144|
|COL@CGY||+117/-117||COL +137/CGY -112|
|TBL@VAN||-152/+152||TBL -145/VAN +180|
|DAL@SJS||-104/+104||DAL +106/SJS +115|
|Jan. 19||MIN@CAR||+152/-152||MIN +180/CAR -146|
|FLA@MTL||-185/+185||FLA -177/MTL +222|
|CHI@PHI||+147/-147||CHI +174/PHI -141|
|WPG@TOR||+172/-172||WPG +205/TOR -165|
|ANA@CBJ||+117/-117||ANA +137/CBJ -112|
|BOS@NYR||+115/-115||BOS +135/NYR -110|
|NYI@BUF||+124/-124||NYI +146/BUF -119|
|NSH@STL||-128/+128||NSH -123/STL +150|
|TBL@EDM||+108/-108||TBL +120/EDM +102|
|WSH@ARI||-159/+159||WSH -152/ARI +189|
|NJD@SEA||-121/+121||NJD -116/SEA +142|
|DET@VGK||+172/-172||DET +206/VGK -165|
|DAL@LAK||+143/-143||DAL +169/LAK -137|
|Jan. 20||OTT@PIT||+131/-131||OTT +154/PIT -125|
|COL@VAN||-120/+120||COL -115/VAN +142|
|Jan. 21||ANA@BUF||+164/-164||ANA +195/BUF -157|
|TBL@CGY||-107/+107||TBL +103/CGY +119|
|MIN@FLA||+138/-138||MIN +163/FLA -132|
|WPG@OTT||-117/+117||WPG -113/OTT +138|
|SJS@CBJ||-128/+128||SJS -123/CBJ +151|
|PHI@DET||+134/-134||PHI +158/DET -128|
|TOR@MTL||-194/+194||TOR -185/MTL +233|
|CAR@NYI||-136/+136||CAR -131/NYI +161|
|LAK@NSH||+115/-115||LAK +135/NSH -110|
|CHI@STL||+145/-145||CHI +171/STL -139|
|ARI@DAL||+236/-236||ARI +289/DAL -226|
|EDM@VAN||-129/+129||EDM -124/VAN +152|
|WSH@VGK||+132/-132||WSH +156/VGK -127|
|COL@SEA||+114/-114||COL +134/SEA -110|
|Jan. 22||PIT@NJD||+165/-165||PIT +196/NJD -158|
|WPG@PHI||-119/+119||WPG -114/PHI +140|
|LAK@CHI||-162/+162||LAK -155/CHI +193|
|SJS@BOS||+230/-230||SJS +280/BOS -219|
|VGK@ARI||-180/+180||VGK -173/ARI +216|
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.
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