How To Bet On The NHL Playoffs

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What are the best NHL playoffs betting strategies? What are the keys to profitable betting on the NHL playoffs? In this article we discuss the best ways to bet on the NHL playoffs.

The NHL playoffs is a high drama tournament that has been captivating established puck heads, and people who don’t even know they are becoming puck heads, for over a century now. Sixteen teams embark on four rounds of best of seven game series, to determine whose names will be permanently etched onto the side of the Stanley Cup.

While the betting menus are expanded, not to mention the betting volume, it's important to recognise the ways in which betting the NHL playoffs differs from betting the NHL regular season. In this article we will discuss four NHL playoffs betting strategies to help bettors stay ahead of the curve when wagering on the NHL playoffs this season.

Four Keys of Betting on NHL Playoffs

#1 - Avoid Betting Puck Lines
#2 - Avoid Short Odds On Goal Totals
#3 - Don’t Rely On Regular Season Numbers
#4 - Avoid Betting Futures

#1 - Avoid Betting Puck Lines

Betting puck lines and alternative markets is great through the regular season. In the NHL playoffs however, the competitiveness of games often leads to 1 goal margins. Often times teams that establish multiple goal leads do not always stay on the offensive. Players and coaches know that it takes 16 wins to claim the cup. Conserving leads is much easier than taking offensive risks in an effort to earn a blow-out win.

Also, teams are playing a series of games, they often aren’t interested in fuelling a team’s motivation to bring a strong effort in the next game based on them running up the score when they were down. Sticking to betting money lines and betting a team in 3-way betting will prevent you from losing money. Your handicapping gave you the winner, don't blow it looking for a larger profit.

#2 - Avoid Short Odds On Goal Totals

Bookmakers know that defence wins championships. More importantly, they know that bettors know this too! When games look likely to go one way or another, bookmakers will camp out on a flat number (generally 5) and give short odds on either the Over but more often than not, to the Under. There are but only 6 scenarios in which an under 5 goals total can be cashed as a winner: 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, 4-0, 2-1, and 3-1. Once a game is tied at 2-2 this game becomes a push (a non-win).

You should be extremely selective and often avoid betting totals because they become unplayable based on value. Our NHL playoffs strategy is to be extra selective and attempt to take advantage of going against public perception and bet against the grain. Betting with a bookmaker that allows alternative totals can really pay off. A game that is lined with a total of 5 and the under priced at 1.70 (American odds of -140) would usually have over 5.5 goals at 2.75 or better.

The key here is to be flexible and selective. Be prepared to not bet games where the bookmakers or the public have left you with no value. One trend worth noting is that in the first two rounds of the playoffs, Overs tend to be more prevalent than in the final two rounds. Food for thought, when betting on NHL goal totals in the early rounds of the playoffs.

#3 - Don’t Rely On Regular Season Numbers

Too often we hear people make comments about one team’s regular season dominance as reason why that team will certainly carry that momentum into the post season. These assumptions generally lead to betting losses, with great value opportunities missed. Certainly some team’s personnel match up better against others. But that doesn’t mean this dominance will continue indefinitely.

During the regular season other factors are present that could explain why a team may have lost a game rather than a particular personnel miss match. Fatigue, travel, injury are but a few of the reasons that can cause teams to not be at their best night in and night out. This is not as prevalent in the playoffs where every team is focused on the match-up at hand and scheduling is fair for both teams. Home ice is also not as much of a factor as you would be made to believe. Sometimes the expectations of a home crowd can make players press if they find themselves down early in a game.

Be sure to look at line by line matchups and try to see if there are reasons to support a team that may not have fared as well in the regular season versus a particular opponent. One point that validates this is the fact that the team with the best regular season point total has only won the Cup a handful of times in the last couple of decades.

#4 - Avoid Betting Futures

We recommend that you avoid betting on Stanley Cup championship markets during the NHL playoffs. For one, the rollover parlay round by round of a particular team will often exceed the return offered by the books for the future wager. For example, let's say the Boston Bruins are even money to make the Cup final with a particular bookmaker. Surely one can achieve at least a little higher return than that, as well as the flexibility to adapt to injuries and such by betting the Bruins game by game and series by series, as the playoffs progress. Too often we see bettors place large wagers on teams to advance to the Cup Final only to see that money wasted in earlier rounds.

All of the value is gone in the future prices offered by the books by now. The successful future players make their selections, often at double digit odds, months in advance and have plenty of hedging room to guarantee at least a chance to see their original stake returned and a little extra for their effort. Not everyone agrees with this stance of course. But we would reply that the market constantly shifts. Why would one want to be tied to a stagnant price for extended periods of time in that ever changing market?

Hopefully these tips will help you avoid the “traps” and common misconceptions of betting the NHL playoffs. It is imperative to be more selective as the playoffs begin as bookmakers know that they are going to increase their handle and are, as always, trying to secure as much of that extra handle as they can.

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