Hockey picksMarch 13, 2021

NHL Scoring Patterns in 2021

NHL scoring patterns through the first two months, with moneyline and Over/Under betting trends you can bank on. Plus, Saturday Hot Shots with odds, trends and handicapping info on two of tonight’s games.


Scoring in the NHL has followed an interesting pattern in this unique season. And whether you choose ‘game numbers’ — specific to each team — or dates on the calendar, there is a good chance that the trends correlate with the point each team is at in their series against any given opponent.

NHL Scoring patterns

When the season started, offensive teams had the upper hand. Home teams, on an average moneyline of -116, posted a 59-34 (63%) record in their first six games and the OVER was 50-41-2 (55%). The average Over/Under odds were 5.9.

During the next couple weeks, as oddsmakers adjusted, the average moneyline increased to -127 for home teams but the win percentage dropped to 51%. At 56-55, these teams were just a hair above .500 and once you factored in the juice, chalk bettors who had raked a +21.8% return on investment (ROI) through the early going, were now down -8.6 units for a return of -5.6%.

Totals on the second set of games were nearly identical to the first set, averaging 5.8 per game. Yet the teams, who were now facing their division rivals for the second or third time in the shortened season, were playing a tighter brand of hockey. The 111 games in this set landed dead even at 54 OVERS and 54 UNDERS, with a few pushes.

The next stretch I’ve identified was when teams were playing their 14th to 21st games on the slate. For the most part, these games ran during a 17-day period from Feb. 15 to March 3. The moneyline for home teams tracked back a few points after their mediocre performance in the second segment, averaging -122. It was not even close to matching their fall, as the home side finished 54-69 (44%). Dime bettors would have lost -$29,420 by blanket betting this group, a -17.8% ROI. Over/Under odds stayed at 5.8 per game but the UNDER hit 60%, going 71-47-5.

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NHL Scoring Patterns

Based on the data above, you can see a distinct pattern over the course of the season to date. Average line is based on the home teams, who were favored in 73% of all NHL games over the past 10 years.

  • Section 1: Average line -116, win rate of 63%, with the OVER hitting 55%
  • Section 2: Average line -127, win rate of 51%, with the OVER/UNDER splitting at 50%.
  • Section 3: Average line -122, win rate of 44% with the OVER hitting just 40%

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The Cycle is Complete

Anyone watching hockey over the past week has been treated to a fair share of high scoring games.

  • March 4: 6 OVERS and 2 UNDERS
  • March 5: 2 OVERS and 1 UNDER
  • March 6: 7 OVERS and 3 UNDERS
  • March 7: 3 OVERS and 2 UNDERS (plus 2 pushes)
  • March 8: 1 OVER and 5 UNDERS
  • March 9: 5 OVERS and 2 UNDERS (plus 1 push)
  • March 10: 3 OVERS and 1 UNDER (plus 1 push)
  • March 11: 8 OVERS and 2 UNDERS
  • March 12: 2 OVERS and 2 UNDERS (plus 1 push)

The OVER since March 4 is 41-23-6, or 64% on an average total of 5.8 goals. I’ll also note that home teams in this span are 37-28 (57%) on an average line of -127.

These are typical patterns in sports betting, where the public follows the money, the bookmaker adjusts, and things even out. The old saying is that the house never loses, and it’s more than just a cliche. In this particular season, however, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to these three elements when handicapping hockey.

  1. Number of times these teams have faced each other this season.
  2. Each team’s points percentage (total points divided by maximum points).
  3. Recent form, paying extra mind to teams coming off blowouts. This year, teams off a loss by four goals or more are 32-26 (55%), the second-highest win percentage for this group in 15 years (2016).

Saturday Hot Shots

Quick-hit previews for two of today’s matchups. See if any of the NHL scoring patterns from above fit the profile of these contests.

Pittsburgh at Buffalo
Line: Penguins -212 and 6 UN (-115)

The Penguins took the first meeting between these teams 5-2 on Thursday in Buffalo. A clear mismatch from 2007-2017, the Pens were 29-9 against the Sabres in that span. Things started to change the past two years, though, where Buffalo took four of six games.

Pittsburgh in 11th in points-percentage at .635 and the Sabres are dead last at .320. Buffalo also ranks 30th with a paltry 8.0 shooting percentage. The Pens are sixth at 11.1%.

  • The UNDER is 35-9 for Buffalo after they’ve taken fewer than 27 shots on goal for five consecutive games.

The Swords have lost seven-straight in the above shots-on-goal profile. They are also 20-6 UNDER off a home loss by two or more. The UNDER streak there is at seven and the losing streak is eight-straight. Yikes! Pittsburgh has a couple games against Boston up next, so there’s a small chance of a look-ahead. Either way, this isn’t shaping up like much of a shootout.

San Jose at Anaheim
Line: Ducks -110 and 5.5 OV (-110)

The Sharks shut out the Ducks 6-0 last night, giving them a 3-1 edge in the season series. Each of the first three meetings was decided by a one-goal margin.

  • Anaheim is 11-3 (79%) against division rivals following a blowout loss by four goals or more.

In home games, the Ducks are 7-1 in this spot, the lone loss coming against the Blues in January, who are only considered a division rival of Anaheim since the Covid realignment.

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