Another week goes by and we still don’t any major sports with a definite start date. We are significantly closer to the NHL starting though as they released a playoff tournament format restart to their season. There are no arenas or cities secured for this event, nor have the exact dates been released. This should all get ironed out, but when the ink dries, that is when we can look forward to wagering on this event. Let’s investigate the NHL tournament a bit.
The top 4 seeds in each conference are going to be re-seeded based on a round-robin series amongst themselves. It would not be fair to reward these 4 teams with time off, while the other teams are playing into the playoffs. These teams would not have their legs and would likely be rusty. These 4 teams are BOS, TB, WSH, PHI in the EAST. In the WEST, they are STL, COL, LV, and DAL. They will be matched against the teams seeded 5-12 who won their "play in" series. The 2019-2020 season was just about completed with an average of 70 games played for each team. The data for them will be available and not have to prorated or subjected to projections to use it.
NHL playoff games are the most exciting and impactful hockey that is played. The best team certainly does not win the Stanley Cup every season. The most energized, focused, aggressive, and disciplined team usually wins. This means we need to identify the favorites and sift through them looking for value from the longer odds teams. There are a couple of ways to investigate this. I know that NHL standings are based on points, but teams should be looked at by their winning percentage instead of their points percentage. Once you have a winning percentage, an algorithm can be applied which will give a specific win probability of the outcome of any of the teams. The win probability can be made into a money line, which then can be compared to the betting line. An example of this (TOR is -160 vs COL, actual Superbook line), we need their win probabilities. TOR is .514 and CLB is .471. This will make TOR a 54.50%-win probability if playing on neutral ice. That becomes -120, whereas the line is -160. We have value then in CLB. TOR is overpriced at -160. By finding the value, we can make the ev+ bets. Keep in mind there is more to it than this, we need goalie data, Corsi data, expected goals data, and more to round out a true opinion. It is a good baseline though. The favorites will be overstated in general and publicly bet so they will likely go higher. We want to find those gems that are going to reward us for digging deeper into the numbers. Remember just last season where TB was considered one of the best teams ever, yet, did not make it out of the 1st round!
Because the postseason play in the playoffs is amped up, it will be wise to find teams withs lots of players that have experience playing in these games. The speed, tempo, and aggressiveness jump have to be experienced to then adapt to what it takes to win these games. The edge to a team in players knowing how to make this adaptation is large. It will be interesting to see what it looks like this season where the teams will not be on their home ice. The fans do provide another level of energy and presumably, there will not be any in attendance. Gauge this early, as we could get a jump on the books. TIP: soccer has started in Germany with no fans. It is early, but the results are proving there is tremendous value in the visiting teams. This may be a trend to look for in the NHL too. Never underestimate the goalies and the coaches. We again will be looking for those guys that have played in these big games before. Ideally, we will want to find both sides of the spectrum guys. We want to know who the best are and we want to know who the worst are too.
Lastly, we will need to pay attention as we want to capitalize on the “freshness” of the teams. Teams tend to get on a roll and it is not always the first couple of games they play. TB struggled early this season before getting hot and putting things together. If we get events such as this for this tournament, we likely can make some serious money. Start getting your data sets in order. These games will seem like NCAA games where they play all day. Keep your note pads handy. Jot down speed, aggression, sharpness, and determination observations. We could also get LIVE betting situations that we can uncover this way. NHLs return makes us have something very exciting and entertaining to watch, but it really means we have to get to work.