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NHL weekly betting guide: True moneylines for every game

Patrick Smith / Getty Images Sport / Getty

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.

The recipe

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.

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.

NHL weekly betting guide: True moneylines for every game
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