NHL weekly betting guide: True moneylines for every game

Eliot J. Schechter / National Hockey League / Getty

On Oct. 17 in Boston, just three games into the season, Aaron Ekblad suffered a lower-body injury that put him out for almost four weeks. His 25 minutes of ice time per game went with him.

In betting terms, it was the type of injury that obviously wasn't accounted for in the Panthers' rating before the campaign, so an adjustment had to be made. Florida came into the season with a projected point total of 105.5, behind only Colorado and Toronto. That number suggests that the Panthers were deemed 15% better than an average team on neutral ice. If they played the NHL's most average squad, they'd win the game 57.5% of the time to the opponents' 42.5%.

However, given Ekblad's presumed importance, how does Florida's win probability change? For example, does losing Ekblad make the club a merely average hockey team? That would mean his absence drops the Panthers' win probability by 7.5%, a level reserved for only the league's biggest stars.

When projecting Florida's moneylines for the 11 games he missed, we made an educated guess and put Ekblad's importance at 6%. We based it on the number of minutes the Panthers would need to replace and that their next highest-paid defenseman was veteran journeyman Brandon Montour.

The market disagreed.

Over the next 11 contests, Florida's moneylines averaged -182, only coming close to being underdogs twice - pick'em games at home to Tampa Bay and Carolina. Since -182 translates to an implied win probability of 64.5%, the Panthers would need to win at a higher rate to be profitable. Despite facing a pretty soft portion of their schedule, the club went 6-5 (54.5%) on the moneyline.

Does that mean Ekblad should be worth a 10% win probability? Not necessarily. Florida was one win away from breaking even, and 11 games isn't a large sample size. But in seven of those contests (six on the road), our betting guide suggested there was value on the Panthers' underdog opponent, going 3-4 for approximately +3 units.

This is where value is found in betting the NHL, not on a barstool or your basement. Understanding where the edges are, a few percentage points at a time that pile up over the season, is how to bet hockey profitably.

The recipe

We started the campaign using regular-season point totals as a baseline for rating teams since it's still our best measurement. Throughout the campaign, we'll adjust club ratings using on-ice metrics to remove the cognitive bias of win-loss records, which various outliers like special teams results, poor goaltending performances, and other unreliable events - such as three-on-three overtime and the shootout - can skew.

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 betable range at some point between market open and puck drop.

DATE GAME TRUE ML PRICE TO BET
Nov. 14 NYI@OTT +102/-102 NYI +113/OTT +108
CAR@CHI -203/+203 CAR -194/CHI +244
LAK@CGY +126/-126 LAK +149/CGY -121
STL@COL +143/-143 STL +170/COL -138
Nov. 15 DAL@TB +131/-131 DAL +154/TB -126
NJD@MTL -168/+168 NJD -161/MTL +200
TOR@PIT +102/-102 TOR +104/PIT +109
VAN@BUF -106/+106 VAN +104/BUF +117
WSH@FLA +189/-189 WSH +226/FLA -180
PHI@CBJ +119/-119 PHI +140/CBJ -114
MIN@NSH +111/-111 MIN +122/NSH +100
DET@ANA +100/+100 DET +110/ANA +110
SJS@VGK +200/-200 SJS +241/VGK -191
Nov. 16 BUF@OTT +163/-163 BUF +194/OTT -156
STL@CHI -145/+145 STL -139/CHI +171
LAK@EDM +120/-120 LAK +141/EDM -115
Nov. 17 PHI@BOS +204/-204 PHI +246/BOS -195
MTL@CBJ +127/-127 MTL +150/CBJ -122
COL@CAR +132/-132 COL +156/CAR -127
DAL@FLA +148/-148 DAL +176/FLA -142
CGY@TB +115/-115 CGY +136/TB -111
NJD@TOR +126/-126 NJD +148/TOR -121
NYI@NSH +122/-122 NYI +144/NSH -118
ANA@WPG +154/-154 ANA +183/WPG -148
WSH@STL +109/-109 WSH +120/STL +102
PIT@MIN +112/-112 PIT +132/MIN -108
ARI@VGK +283/-283 ARI +352/VGK -269
NYR@SEA -117/+117 NYR -112/SEA +137
DET@SJS +101/-101 DET +111/SJS +110
Nov. 18 LAK@VAN -101/+101 LAK +110/VAN +111
Nov. 19 NJD@OTT -123/+123 NJD -118/OTT +144
CGY@FLA +130/-130 CGY +154/FLA -125
COL@WSH -117/+117 COL -113/WSH +138
PIT@WPG -110/+110 PIT +100/WPG +122
CHI@BOS +252/-252 CHI +310/BOS -240
BUF@TOR +210/-210 BUF +254/TOR -201
DET@CBJ +101/-101 DET +112/CBJ +109
PHI@MTL +110/-110 PHI +121/MTL +101
NYI@DAL +126/-126 NYI +149/DAL -121
TB@NSH +102/-102 TB +113/NSH +108
ANA@STL +168/-168 ANA +200/STL -161
CAR@MIN -102/+102 CAR +108/MIN +113
LAK@SEA +108/-108 LAK +119/SEA +103
VGK@EDM +118/-118 VGK +139/EDM -114
NYR@SJS -144/+144 NYR -138/SJS +171
Nov. 20 FLA@CBJ -154/+154 FLA -147/CBJ +182
PIT@CHI -174/+174 PIT -167/CHI +208

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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NHL weekly betting guide: True moneylines for every game
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