Hockey picksFebruary 18, 2021

NHL Standings Only Part of the Picture

A quick look at the NHL standings offers a fine overview of the best and worst teams. Meanwhile, the middle of the pack would confuse even the latest GPS technology. Here are a few trends and strategies to help clear things up.


Points Percentage Goes Beyond the Standings

In a hectic hockey betting landscape, ruled by a never ending list of cancellations, the NHL standings only tell part of the story. Take the Dallas Stars, for example.

NHL standings

In the current Central division standings, Dallas (5-3-4) has just 14 points, good enough for sixth. They’ve lost five in a row, but four were by a single goal, three coming in extra time. The Stars have gained points in seven of 12 games (.583), and by that measure they are 16th in the league.

Strength of schedule has had a dramatic impact on the season’s unique format, and there has been no shortage of surprises. Consider that four of Dallas’ losses were against the Hurricanes (10-3-1), who are proving to be one of the most explosive teams in 2021. Another two at the hands of a Blackhawks (9-5-4) team that is 7-1-1 in their past nine. All of this is not to say that the Stars are a great team. Just not nearly as bad as the NHL standings would indicate.

Two more teams with a significant gap between Points Percentage and where they sit in the standings are Washington and New Jersey. Both of these teams are in action tonight, trying to make up for lost time. Their moneylines are on different ends of the spectrum.

Since 2018, I’m +45 games over .500 with my Hockey picks and in the midst of an incredible 52-36 (59%) run to start the season, boosting dime bettors’ bankrolls by +$6,150. 

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New Jersey at Boston
Thursday, 02/17, 7:00 PM ET
Line: Bruins -240 and 5.5 UN -110

The Devils (5-3-2) are sixth in the East, having gained 60-percent of their eligible points. In points, they’re 25th. In Points Percentage, New Jersey ranks 14th. They’ve scored five goals in back-to-back games. Oh, and they also took a 15-day break between those games while most of the team fought off the coronavirus.

A slow starter, New Jersey has been able to hang around. In their last three games, the Devils scored four goals in the second and seven in the third. Boston (10-2-2) can punch back in the third, with 20 late markers, tied for fourth-most in the NHL. During eight home games, however, the Bruins have allowed just four goals in the final frame. The Bruins are coming home off seven consecutive road games. They had a five-game winning streak snapped on Saturday against the Islanders.

– Boston is 30-16 UNDER (65%) after allowing two or more third period goals.

The Bruins are also 13-2 UNDER after a losing by two or more to a division rival. New Jersey split two close ones vs. Boston to start the season, but in the past seven meetings, the Devils have scored only once in the first period. They have three third period goals in those seven, too. Boston’s loss on Saturday was just their second of the year in regulation. Getting to five for a third consecutive game will be a monumental task for the Devs.

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Buffalo at Washington
Thursday, 02/17, 7:00 PM ET
Line: Capitals -170 and 6.5 UN -120

Washington’s Points Percentage is .607 (13th). The Caps (7-4-3) are fourth in the East and look poised to make a move following their 3-1 win over Pittsburgh.

– Home favorites of -165 or higher are 81-29 (74%) off a win that immediately followed a losing streak of four games or more.

The Sabres (4-6-2) have just 10 points, second-fewest in the league (Sens). In two games back from their Covid-19 layoff, Buffalo scored just once. Their 2.58 scoring average ranks No. 24 and in the past seven years, Buffalo has only scored 2.4 goals per game against Washington.

– The Caps hold a 16-5 (76%) win-loss record against the Sabres since 2014. The only team bettors have made more money backing Washington against in that span is the Bruins.

At 10-4 OVER (71%), Washington is tied with the Kings for highest OVER percentage in the league thus far. It has fetched a high total for this contest but contrarian bettors should note this angle.

– When the total is O/U 6 or more, the UNDER is 80-34 (70%) when road teams have allowed three-plus goals in three-straight, and home teams have scored three-plus for three in a row.

The Capitals are fourth in scoring at 3.57 goals. They have scored at least three in 12 of 14 games this season.

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The Waiting Game

After a late start, Dallas is back on the sidelines this week as the state struggles to recover from a winter weather apocalypse that has knocked out power for millions of Texans.

By the time Dallas gets back on the ice, it will have been at least a week. And while most hockey teams like a few days of rest, erratic scheduling will take a toll.

– The modern day record for regular season teams off an extended break of 7-14 days, is 49-61 (.445).

Evidence supporting the theory that unplanned rest can wreak havoc on would-be contenders:

– Teams with a .500 to .650 win percentage with extended rest are only 16-29 (.356).

Thursday night, Philadelphia (8-3-2) hosts the New York Rangers and for the Flyers, it will be their first game since Feb. 7. The Rangers (4-7-3) have lost four straight.

– Slumping road dogs up to +150  are 50-29 (63%) the past five years against teams that have played less than five times in the past two weeks.

Check @wunderdog for updates on my top NHL picks today, and good luck!

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