NHL Handicapping Using Key Stats

Take NHL handicapping to a new level using key stats.

Key Points

–  Stats like save percentage and first goal percentage are very useful in NHL handicapping.

– Some stats are better than others to use when handicapping NHL games.

NHL Handicapping Using Key Stats

Football, basketball, and especially baseball all have leagues that place a lot more emphasis on statistics than does hockey. Although statistics are undoubtedly available and kept, they are not nearly as complex as those for other sports. 

This is partially due to the fact that hockey isn’t as popular as other sports. The bigger issue is this. Hockey isn’t a game of direct matchups like other sports. In baseball for example, you can consider a pitcher’s performance against a certain batter, a batter’s performance under specific conditions, and so forth. 

In basketball, one factor to consider is how effectively a player matches with the opponent who is most likely to defend them all game. Hockey players score a lot less than basketball players do, so the importance of their scoring efficiency figures is considerably greater. 

Football is a perfect subject for statistical analysis because it is all about matchups. A corner will defend a certain wide receiver for the majority of a game. An offensive tackle goes up against the same edge rusher for most of a game. 

Hockey is mostly a team sport, where players don’t always play against the same opponents and aren’t just one player’s defender. It makes it challenging to locate hockey statistics that are particularly important. 

There are certain hockey stats that do help bettors understand the game a little better. Here are a few of those key stats that can help advance your NHL handicapping.


First Goal Percentage

About two-thirds of games are won by teams that score the game’s first goal. If we could accurately anticipate in advance who would score first in a particular game, NHL handicapping would be incredibly simple. 

Of course we can’t, but we can determine whether a team has a propensity for opening the scoring or not. If one team in a game consistently scores first while another has a true propensity to start the game slowly, you may have identified a strong advantage. Teams that frequently concede the opening goal simply make it too difficult for themselves to win games. 

Power Play Percentage

Power play percentage is frequently used in the same sentence as the penalty killing rate. Although both factors are important, winning on the power play is a far better metric for evaluation. 

The success rate of a team’s power play reveals a lot about its character since it demonstrates how well they seize opportunities provided to them. Teams with high power play percentages are organized, cohesive, and patient enough to wait for the appropriate moment to execute and score. Understanding power play percentage can help bettors make money betting the NHL puck line.

Those same qualities are required for an NHL team to succeed. Teams that excel on the power play are frequently good to bettors. The opposite is also true. Teams that are poor on the power play are typically not so good to bettors.

Save Percentage

Goals against average, or the amount of goals a goalie allows each game, is the most popular statistic used to evaluate goalies. However, the save percentage is considerably more significant. 

The save percentage tends to fluctuate less over the season. That makes it useful in determining how well a goaltender will perform if there are significantly more or significantly fewer shots than typical in a game. 

One method of NHL handicapping that has helped bettors is to compare a goalie’s save percentage throughout the course of the full season to the same figure over the previous five and ten games. 

By analyzing the three data points, bettors can identify goalies who are starting a streak or slump. It also helps in anticipating team issues before the general public does. 

NHL Handicapping – Shootout Percentage

If two teams are evenly matched, there is a probability that the game will end in a draw and go to overtime. Often, the overtime will end in a tie as well. That means the game will be decided by a shootout.

Shootouts are a situation where some teams excel and others struggle. The outcome of a game can be dependent on how well a team performs in shootouts. Knowing this piece of information is a boost to any bettor’s NHL handicapping. 

NHL bettors that understand the value of shootout percentage are the same bettors that understand the benefits of using multiple sportsbooks.

Home vs. Road Goals

Looking at how many goals per game a team averages at home versus on the road is one of the easiest methods to gauge a team’s strength and character. 

Unlike other sports, the location of a hockey game is less important. Every rink is the same and has the same ice surface. For the most part, the ice in one rink is the same as in others. The dimensions are the same in every rink in the league.

Hockey is more predictable than other sports making it simpler to separate the real effects of traveling and playing at home. The dimensions of baseball stadiums differ in MLB. There are some NFL teams that play indoors as opposed to outdoors. That makes handicapping a bit more difficult in those sports.

Teams that score at about the same rate at home and on the road are teams worth backing when they do play away from home. Of course, you would have to do more research to confirm that betting decision.

Teams that don’t score as much on the road are teams that are unable to manage the pressure of playing away from home. These are teams you may want to bet against.