NHL weekly betting guide: True moneylines for every game
While "Don't overreact to the results of one week" is an axiom more frequently served up in the NFL, you can also apply it to the NHL.
Saturday's Maple Leafs-Penguins matchup proved to be a good example. The visiting Leafs were +115 on the moneyline despite having an average price of -115 before a 5-2 win in Pittsburgh on Nov. 15. (Toronto had also suffered a home loss to the Penguins on Nov. 11.) That's an implied win probability drop of 7% over 11 days despite the game being played in the same venue.
The Leafs did start Erik Kallgren instead of Matt Murray on Saturday, and they didn't have Morgan Rielly. But Rielly means roughly 3% to the Leafs' game-to-game win probability, and the difference between Kallgren and Murray is even less than that. So, how did we get to 7%?
The Penguins had won two of 11 contests amidst the first two meetings with the Leafs, but they'd won five straight from Nov. 17-25. They averaged an even-strength Expected Goal Share (XG%) of 56% over their opponents during that stretch. But that didn't bear fruit Saturday, as Pittsburgh had just 44.26% of the five-on-five XG% in a 4-1 loss.
Teams will always revert to their mean. Getting Toronto at better than +110 was a bet that had to be made in order to take advantage of the value created by the market's perception.
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. 28||TOR@DET||-130/+130||TOR -124/DET +153|
|VGK@CBJ||-159/+159||VGK -153/CBJ +189|
|NJD@NYR||+105/-105||NJD +116/NYR +106|
|TBL@BUF||-139/+139||TBL -133/BUF +164|
|DAL@STL||+113/-113||DAL +133/STL -108|
|FLA@EDM||+115/-115||FLA +135/EDM -110|
|Nov. 29||TBL@BOS||+143/-143||TBL +169/BOS -137|
|SJS@MTL||+105/-105||SJS +116/MTL +105|
|CAR@PIT||+107/-107||CAR +118/PIT +103|
|NYI@PHI||-116/+116||NYI -111/PHI +136|
|COL@WPG||-109/+109||COL -105/WPG +128|
|ANA@NSH||+181/-181||ANA +217/NSH -174|
|FLA@CGY||+125/-125||FLA +147/CGY -120|
|WSH@VAN||+117/-117||WSH +138/VAN -113|
|SEA@LAK||+139/-139||SEA +164/LAK -133|
|Nov. 30||NYR@OTT||-109/+109||NYR +102/OTT +120|
|SJS@TOR||+264/-264||SJS +326/TOR -251|
|BUF@DET||+124/-124||BUF +146/DET -119|
|EDM@CHI||-169/+169||EDM -162/CHI +201|
|Dec. 1||TBL@PHI||-159/+159||TBL -153/PHI +189|
|COL@BUF||-128/+128||COL -123/BUF +150|
|VGK@PIT||+117/-117||VGK +138/PIT -112|
|NSH@NJD||+146/-146||NSH +173/NJD -140|
|EDM@MIN||+142/-142||EDM +168/MIN -136|
|CAR@STL||-111/+111||CAR +100/STL +123|
|ANA@DAL||+176/-176||ANA +211/DAL -169|
|MTL@CGY||+224/-224||MTL +272/CGY -213|
|WSH@SEA||+113/-113||WSH +133/SEA -109|
|FLA@VAN||-124/+124||FLA -119/VAN +146|
|ARI@LAK||+259/-259||ARI +320/LAK -247|
|Dec. 2||OTT@NYR||+150/-150||OTT +178/NYR -144|
|NSH@NYI||+129/-129||NSH +152/NYI -123|
|CBJ@WPG||+174/-174||CBJ +207/WPG -166|
|Dec. 3||ANA@MIN||+198/-198||ANA +238/MIN -189|
|VGK@DET||-119/+119||VGK -115/DET +141|
|STL@PIT||+140/-140||STL +165/PIT -134|
|TOR@TBL||+119/-119||TOR +140/TBL -114|
|COL@BOS||+127/-127||COL +150/BOS -122|
|SJS@OTT||+146/-146||SJS +173/OTT -140|
|NJD@PHI||-162/+162||NJD -155/PHI +193|
|MTL@EDM||+212/-212||MTL +256/EDM -202|
|CHI@NYR||+213/-213||CHI +257/NYR -203|
|FLA@SEA||-129/+129||FLA -123/SEA +152|
|ARI@VAN||+222/-222||ARI +270/VAN -212|
|WSH@CGY||+149/-149||WSH +177/CGY -143|
|CAR@LAK||-101/+101||CAR +110/LAK +111|
|Dec. 4||MIN@DAL||+106/-106||MIN +117/DAL +105|
|ANA@WPG||+196/-196||ANA +236/WPG -188|
|DET@CBJ||+104/-104||DET +122/CBJ +100|
|SJS@BUF||+154/-154||SJS +183/BUF -148|
|CHI@NYI||+241/-241||CHI +295/NYI -230|
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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