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How to Build An NHL Betting Model and Make Money

How to Build An NHL Betting Model and Make Money?

We’re not going to sugarcoat it – just as hockey is the hardest sport to learn to play, it’s also the hardest to be successful at when it comes to betting. Played at a breakneck pace, a hockey game has more variables and uncontrollable factors than any other major North American sport.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t money to be made. In fact, a shrewd, knowledgeable hockey bettor can turn a tidy profit if they are willing to put in the time and effort required to learn the ins and outs of NHL wagering and bet on the games with the top New York betting apps, such as BetRivers NY, BetMGM and DraftKings sportsbook.

Goaltending is a Stopper

Goaltending is to hockey what pitching is to baseball. If a team doesn’t have it, they’re in big trouble. It’s difficult to quantify what percentage of success is owed to good goaltending. It’s a certainty that bad goaltending equals 100 percent of failure. 

Two key stats to watch for with netminders are 5v5 save percentage and goals saved above expected.

Special Teams Are Vital

A hockey adage that’s been around for years and is as true today as it was back then – teams that win the special teams battle also win the game. 

When betting on the NHL, look for squads that rate among the best on the power play. A club clicking at 25 percent with the man advantage is likely to score a goal if awarded four power plays per game. 

A simple method for checking if a team is solid in the special teams area – add up their NHL ranking on the power play and the penalty kill. If the number is less than 10, that means they are outstanding.  

Know The Schedule

For the most part, home-ice advantage isn’t what it used to be. The construction of new rinks that are all cookie-cutter in style means that the quirks once found in old barns like Boston Garden or Buffalo’s Memorial Auditorium have gone the way of the helmetless player.

Still, there are times when home-ice can produce an edge. Teams nearing the end of long road trips are more susceptible to being beaten. East coast teams playing on the West coast at times of night when they’d normally be getting ready for bed are also good to best against. 

On the other hand, watch for teams playing the second game of back to backs – especially when the first game is on the road. It’s just possible that in this case, the visiting club is already in the host city, getting a good night’s rest. Meanwhile the home team is in a foreign city, getting back in the wee hours and taking the ice a tired club. 

How To Build An NHL Betting Model

Just as there are many layers to building a successful hockey team, building an NHL prediction betting model that works will also involve a number of steps. 

For starters, it’s best to narrow your focus when wagering on the NHL. With 32 teams, following all the action is going to prove quite time consuming. Pick an element to make your pursuit. It might be totals, it could be betting on home underdogs. It’s entirely up to you. 

Once that focus is established, the next step is to do a deep dive into the data.

For instance, let’s say you opt to put the emphasis on betting NHL game totals. Do the math, put together charts. If the Washington Capitals are playing the Pittsburgh Penguins, you should have the raw data on whether their games generally go over or under at your fingertips. Break it down even further to see the outcome of games in each team’s rink. The more you know, the better your chances to win. 

Another important factor in any NHL betting model will be your budget. How much discretionary income do you have available to bet on hockey?

This amount should be determined before a first bet is placed and must be adhered to religiously. As well, eliminate emotion from the equation. Bets shouldn’t be made on the spur of the moment but only after careful and calculated research.

You should never wager more than 5 percent of your entire bankroll on one bet. Thus, if you have a betting budget of $500, then your maximum bet should be no more than $25.

Why is NHL Betting so Hard?

One of the elements of hockey that make the game difficult to bet is the empty-net goal. Teams will pull the netminder in a close game, hoping having an extra attacker on the ice will provide the vital tying goal. 

NHL coaches are pulling their goalies earlier and earlier, sometimes with 2-3 minutes left in regulation time. If you’re betting the puckline and your team is down 2-1, you’re sitting on a winner – at least you were until they pulled their goalie, gave up an empty netter and lost 3-1. 

The shootout is another element making a hockey wager a difficult play. Imagine losing a bet because of a penalty shot competition. Well, you don’t have to imagine it. In hockey, that’s how they decide games still tied following the five-minute 3-on-3 overtime frame.

What Is The Best Indicator For NHL Betting?

Narrowing down the best indicators for NHL betting to one area isn’t easy to do. There are several elements that a bettor should be tracking when it comes to placing wagers on the NHL. However, there are three areas that should always be taken into account when putting money on NHL games.

Special Teams

Special teams are perhaps the best of all the areas to study in terms of narrowing hockey betting decisions down. Teams that win the special teams generally win the game.

During the 2021-22 season, the top eight NHL power plays and 10 of the first 11 all made the Stanley Cup playoffs. On the penalty kill, seven of the top nine earned postseason positions. Four of the top eight power plays ended up competing in the NHL’s conference finals.

The Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche were seventh on the power play and 15th on the penalty kill. The Cup finalist Tampa Bay Lightning had the NHL’s No. 8 power and No. 11 penalty kill.


There’s a number of analytics that are worth studying due to their impact on NHL outcomes. Corsi is one of the easiest to understand. Basically, it takes all of one teams 5-on-5 shot attempts for and subtracts all of the 5-on-5 shot attempts against. Teams that end up better than 50% in this stat have the puck more than they don’t. And it’s much easier to win when you have possession of the puck.

In fact, 11 of the top 12 Corsi teams in 2021-22 made the NHL playoffs. Colorado was seventh overall, while Tampa Bay was 12th.

Scoring First

Tracking the success of a team scoring the first basket in an NBA game would seem a waste of time. However, tracking the scorer of the first goal of an NHL game is vital.

Hockey is a sport in which teams that play with a lead generally finish the game with the lead. Overall, teams scoring the first goal of the game win two out of every three NHL games. 

Some teams are better at playing with a lead than others. For example, during the 2021-22 NHL season, the Edmonton Oilers were 32-2-1 in games in which they were scoring the first goal.

Photo by Jerry Yu on Unsplash

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