NHL Betting: 5 Teams That Are Good Over/Under Bets
Correctly predicting who will win an NHL game can be pretty difficult because of how close the games usually are and the flukey nature in which a lot of goals are scored.
But while it may be a challenge to anticipate who will win the game in overtime or a shootout, my personal experience is that it’s actually fairly easy to project whether the game will be high- or low-scoring.
That’s why I love NHL over/under betting, especially early in the season. If you’re paying close enough attention and can quickly identify the styles that teams are playing, you’ll have an edge on the oddsmakers until they eventually catch on as well.
Here are 5 NHL teams that stand out for their potential to be either excellent Over bets or reliable Under bets this season, based on how they’ve looked so far.
1. Florida Panthers (5-0 Over/Under)
After finishing 24th in NHL in goals scored last year, the Panthers’ early focus this season seems to be on generating more offense.
Florida has played a pretty wide-open style through its first 5 games of the year, averaging nearly 42 shots per contest. That’s the most shots per game in the league, and the Panthers have been rewarded with a 3.4 goal-per-game average.
Florida’s attack could get even better if its shooting percentage increases (despite having the most shots in the NHL, they’re just 9th in goals for) and if its power play starts clicking (its 16.7% success rate is 20th.) The ability to generate as much even-strength offense as the Panthers have this year makes them a team with tremendous potential to cash a lot of Over tickets this year.
So does Florida’s defensive play. All that focus on offense comes at a price, and that price has been a lot of pucks in the Panthers’ net. Tuesday in Philadelphia, the Flyers pumped 4 goals past Panthers netminder Roberto Luongo in the second period alone. The 4 goals Florida has allowed per game so far this year is the third-highest total in the NHL.
There’s a strong chance that Florida’s perfect run of Overs to start the season continues through the weekend. The Panthers will host the high-scoring Penguins Friday night (Pittsburgh beat Florida 4-3 last Saturday), then visit Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals on Saturday. Even if oddsmakers post an Over/Under of 6 in those matchups, the value right now in Florida games is on the Over.
2. New Jersey Devils (4-1-1 Over/Under)
One of the best places to find value in the sports betting market is where reputation does not equal reality. And that’s exactly what we’ve got right now with the Devils.
New Jersey has been a boring team to watch for years. Even in their heydays (3 Stanley Cup wins in the 8-year span from 1995-2003), the Devils suffocated opponents defensively and would score just enough goals to win the game. Their team name became synonymous with the neutral zone trap, a conservative defensive system that many hockey purists despise.
And even though , New Jersey’s style hasn’t. The Devils have ranked in the bottom 4 of the NHL in goals in each of the past 5 seasons. When you don’t have much offensive talent, your only real chance of winning is to keep the games as low-scoring as possible, then try to steal a victory with a late goal or in overtime or a shootout.
But things are different this season in New Jersey. After drafting Nico Hischier and signing Marcus Johansson, the Devils actually have some offensive pieces to play with, and it’s already paying dividends. New Jersey is averaging more than 4 goals per game this year and its power play ranks first in the NHL.
It’ll be rare that oddsmakers will post an Over/Under of 6 in any New Jersey games, and we might even see some 5s later this season simply because of the Devils’ reputation. Again, the reputation is not the reality, and we should be looking to bet New Jersey Over the total as much as possible until the oddsmakers catch up.
3. Dallas Stars (2-4 Over/Under)
Speaking of reputation versus reality, we’ve got another gem to work with in Dallas.
Whether it was when they were really good 2 years ago (finishing first in the Western Conference) or really bad last year (missing the playoffs by X points), there was 1 constant about the Stars: Their games were always really exciting and full of goals.
As a result, oddsmakers regularly jacked up the totals on Dallas games over the last 2 years. Seeing an Over/Under of 5 in a Stars contest was about as rare as seeing a unicorn, and totals sometimes got as high as 6.5 or even 7.
But now there’s a new sheriff in town, and he’s not a fan of fun hockey. Stars head coach Ken Hitchcock has a long and strong history of overseeing defensive-minded teams, with his squads regularly finishing in the top 3 of the NHL in goals against. Hitchcock’s new philosophy is already apparent in Dallas, where the Stars are allowing the fewest shots per game in the league (26.3) and rank fifth in the NHL in goals against.
The off-season trade for Ben Bishop has also given the Stars the reliable netminding they’ve been missing for years. So now, instead of thinking they need to put up 5 goals in order to overcome the 4 they used to allow, the rest of the Dallas skaters can focus on playing fundamentally-sound hockey and not taking any unnecessary risks.
The Stars still have a ton of elite offensive talent, and they’ll soon improve on their 29th-ranked attack. But even if they do, Dallas’ reputation as a firewagon team is no longer valid, and the inflated totals we will probably continue to see on Stars games makes them an Under bet worth targeting throughout the year.
4. Montreal Canadiens (3-2-1 Over/Under)
The Canadiens’ Achilles heel last year was a lack of offense, and even the offseason addition of Jonathan Drouin hasn’t done much to help.
Montreal has scored just 9 goals in its first 6 games, and the Habs have been held to 1 goal or less in 3 of those contests. Drouin is doing his part (2 goals and 3 assists), but the next highest-scoring forwards on the roster are Brendan Gallagher and Artturki Lehkonen, each of whom have just 2 points. Max Pacioretty, who has scored 30-plus goals in 5 of his last 6 seasons, has managed just 1 point so far.
Yeah, it’s early, but there’s really no reason to believe that this offensive drought is temporary. The Canadiens were limited to 11 goals in a 6-game loss to the Rangers in last year’s playoffs, and if you don’t count overtime goals, they scored 2 or less goals in 21 of their final 31 regular-season games a year ago.
Until somebody figures out how to generate some more offense in Montreal, the Canadiens’ only hope of winning is to rely on stud goaltender Carey Price and a strong defense corps. Montreal has allowed the third-fewest shots in the league so far, and they were a respectable 11th in the NHL in that department last season.
So why has Montreal gone Over the total more than Under this season? Well, Price hasn’t been himself, posting a 3.56 goals-against average and .885 save percentage through his first 6 outings. Once the former league MVP regains his usual stellar form, look for the Unders to start rolling in on Montreal games.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs (5-1 Over/Under)
Mike Babcock used to be known as a defensive coach. But just like when you’ve got lemons, you make lemon-aid, when you’ve got vintage grapes, you make fine wine.
Those grapes in Toronto are promising young stud forwards like Auston Matthews (last year’s rookie of the year), William Nylander and Mitch Marner, along with skilled veterans Patrick Marleau, Nazem Kadri, James van Reimsdyk and Tyler Bozak. The fine wine they’ve produced is the most lethal attack in the entire NHL, averaging nearly 5 goals per outing so far this year.
Everything about Toronto’s game right now screams Over. They’re fifth in shots. They’re fourth on the power play. And defensively, they had allowed 19 goals in their first 5 games before a shutout of the Capitals Tuesday in Washington brought their goals-against average down to a still-high 3.2.
No total seems too high for the Leafs to clear right now. Their first 4 games had an Over/Under of 6 or higher (including a 6.5 against Chicago), and they still went over the total by a combined margin of 13.5 goals.
Toronto goaltender Frederik Andersen is decent, but he’ll never be included on a list of the NHL’s elite netminders. The defense corps in front of him is young and still relatively inexperienced, and several of the Leafs’ top blueliners play with an offensive mentality. Babcock may wish they played better defense and kept games a bit lower-scoring, but he’s also got to play with the cards that he’s been dealt.
As long as the formula keeps working in Toronto (the Leafs have started the year with a 5-1 record), look for the Overs to keep flowing in.