NHL 2013/2014: Who To Bet, Who To Fade
The NHL season has begun. So who should you bet on? Who should you bet against? Today NHL bettor John Marks tells us who to bet and who to fade in 2013/2014.
Hello NHL bettors. Today we are going to look at the four new divisions of the National Hockey League. We will be highlighting teams from those divisions looking to uncover betting value heading into the 2013-2014 season. I will break down the teams into two categories per division, teams worthy of betting, and teams to fade (bet against).
As a bettor in any sport one must be wary of blindly betting trends or teams without assessing the current conditions. Some things needing assessment are:
- Scheduling difficulties
- Personnel changes
Scheduling difficulties include games played on consecutive days (back to backs), teams on long road trips, or teams not playing in their regular time zones that will affect their “body clocks” such as a team from California playing a 1PM start in eastern cities 3 time zones earlier.
To clarify, these are not necessarily the best and worst teams in NHL but rather teams that should be under the radar to lines makers. Most can agree that Boston, Pittsburgh, and Chicago are the top teams in the league, but they often don’t provide value for wagering because the books also know that and make the bettor pay a premium price for wagering on them!
Team to Bet : Ottawa Senators
Eliminated Montreal last year in playoffs before losing to #1 seed Pittsburgh in second round. They are currently odds of 7.50 to win this division.
Ottawa lost longtime captain Daniel Alfredsson to the Detroit Red Wings. While they may feel the pinch in the leadership department with Alfie leaving, I feel it will ultimately allow for other players on the team to blossom and produce even more than in previous seasons. RW Bobby Ryan, acquired from Anaheim, should help take some of the offensive punch that Alfredsson’s departure leaves. Couple all this with rock solid goaltender Craig Anderson, superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson and I feel this team will be right behind top tier in East in contention all season.
Team to Fade: Buffalo Sabres
This team is getting older and is in need of an influx of new talent. Ownership is talking of changes, but here we are in the beginning of the 2013-2014 season and this team is pretty much the same one that finished 12th out of 15 teams in Eastern Conference last year. Goaltenders Ryan Miller (17-17-5, 2.81 GAA, .915 SP) and Jhonas Enroth (4-4-1, 2.60 GAA, .919 SP) are not going to get it done by themselves. They must improve on their 2nd to last ranking on the power play, if they have even a sliver of hope to get near playoff contention.
Team to Bet: Washington Capitals
Overcame a slow start last season to eventually win the Southeast division and secure 3rd seed in playoffs. The slow start was to be expected as Adam Oates was entering as new head coach and was not provided any time to install his system.
The players responded to Oates in a big way and no one made a bigger improvement than Alexander Ovechkin. He regained his sniper form from switching sides on wing and was the league’s leading scorer with 32 goals. Braden Holtby (23-12-1, 2.58 GAA, .920 SP) in net is one of the top rising young goaltenders in the league. I look for this team to continue to get even better and contend for the top spot in this competitive division At a current market price of 8.5/1 to win this division, it means we should see value on them consistently.
Team to Fade: Philadelphia Flyers
As this article is being composed the Flyers owner Ed Snider has fired head coach Peter Laviolette. The Flyers have started this season 0-3 and have only managed 3 goals combined in those losses. He is being replaced by Craig Berube. This move is not surprising to many in the hockey world, as this Flyers team has been spinning wheels since the 2011-2012 season. Many blamed eccentric goalie Ilya Bryzgalov as the cause of the problems, so they replaced him with Chris Mason and Ray Emery.
I’m not convinced that this will solve their problems, as both of those goalies have been career back-ups. It should be a LONG season for these Flyers, who some hockey writer’s had picked as high as 2nd in the Metropolitan division.
Team to Bet: Colorado Avalanche
This Avs team should surprise in my opinion based on some moves the organisation has made off the ice. They brought in popular Avalanche players Joe Sakic, director of hockey operations, and Patrick Roy, new head coach. Roy’s intense competitiveness is already showing up in the play of this Avalanche team. Opening night saw Colorado thumping the Anaheim Ducks 6-1 and then the fans were treated to shenanigans between Roy and Duck’s coach Bruce Boudreau in which Roy shoved a bench partition over and was fined 10,000 USD for it.
While I don’t condone this immature behaviour, I do believe that the fans filling the seats as well as the Colorado players, understand the intensity that he expects as head coach. While their previous seasons records don’t show it Colorado also has a very distinct home ice advantage as they play in high altitude compared to about 85% of the rest of league. If you spot the Avalanche hosting a team, especially ones who have played the previous night, it is a real advantage and deserves a long look as a spot to wager on them.
Team to Fade: Dallas Stars
This team has a couple of solid pieces in place that make them somewhat competitive, namely goaltender Kari Lehtonen (15-14-3, 2.66 GAA, .916 SP). They’ve added a couple of decent players such as Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley from Boston, and free agent D Sergei Gonchar.
On the surface these seem like solid moves, but it leaves new (at least to Dallas) head coach Lindy Ruff with a lot to do to get this team back in playoffs after being left out the last 5 seasons. This team has been particularly bad when playing on the second consecutive night/day winning a total of 4 games out of their last 31 in that scenario.
Team to Bet: San Jose Sharks
This team lost to the LA Kings in last year’s playoffs after sweeping the Vancouver Canucks in the first round. They are backed up in net by Antti Niemi (24-12-6, 2.16 GAA, .924 SP). Niemi, after winning a Cup in Chicago, has proven he is not a one hit wonder and was the best goal tender in the West last season statistically.
Their home arena, affectionately known as The Shark Tank) is one of the tougher venues for visitors to play in. The Sharks were 17-2-5 at home last season. The team has remained unchanged for most part, and they should be sneaky good this season.
Team to Fade: Edmonton Oilers
This team has benefited from finishing at the bottom of the standings in seasons past, by drafting exceptional talent. A lot of pieces are in place for them to be a Cup contender someday, but when? They have a decent goalie in Devan Dubnyk (14-16-6, 2.57 GAA, .920 SP).
Offensively this team can be explosive at times but it is their defence that makes me put them in a fade position this season. The other reason is their inability to avoid injuries as they are without C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagne to start off this campaign. They are respected by writers and odds makers alike, but I feel they fall below expectations this season.
I hope this clarifies a few teams to look for when betting the NHL this season. I can’t emphasise enough, however, to use these team assessments as a starting point in wager selection versus the final reason to bet them.
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Follow John Marks on Twitter: @NoJokeNHL