Betting on the NHL can be incredibly challenging but also rewarding. Of the “Big Four” sports in North America, hockey stands out as it has the most parity. NHL odds tend to be lined more evenly than the NBA or NFL. But just like betting on the other three, you need to research stats for the NHL. But which ones should you keep an eye on?
Hockey analytics have come a long way and it’s partly thanks to the increasing popularity of online sports betting that experts are looking for more ways to properly analyze team performances.
We’re way past the days of relying on misleading stats like plus-minus, WOWY, and my pet peeve, game-winning goals (don’t join any fantasy leagues that still count this fluffy stat).
You can find most of the advanced analytics through these three resources but I strongly encourage searching around the web and listening to podcasts. Also, there are some stats you shouldn’t pay attention to according to the pros.
Here are some advanced NHL betting with stats tips to help you get started.
Corsi For Percent (CF%)
You’ve probably come across the term, “Corsi”. This is an OG among hockey analytics and is still widely used today. It is a more accurate measurement of the shot attempt differential between the team and their opponents while at even strength.
Corsi For (CF) are the team’s shot attempts: shots + blocks + misses. Then, Corsi Against (CA) are the opponent’s shot attempts: shots + blocks + misses. Corsi is calculated by subtracting CA from CF.
CF% is calculated by dividing CF by the sum of CF and CA: CF*100/(CF+CA).
I use CF% because it tells me how well and how often teams are controlling the puck and generating scoring chances. Teams with a CF% above 50% means they are generally outplaying their opposition. Meanwhile, teams who have a 55% or higher Corsi are the cream of the crop.
Scoring Chance For Percent (SCF%)
Get familiar with scoring chances as these are the superior version of “shots for.” Shot attempts inside the zone are assigned a value of 1, 2, or 3 per War-on-Ice. Scoring chances are weighed at least two points, while high-danger scoring chances (HDCF) are given three.
Ideally, you’d like for the team you are betting on to generate more scoring chances (SCF) than their opponent (SCA). So you’d like to see what the balance is. This is called the scoring chance for percent (SCF%).
SCF% is calculated by dividing SCF (scoring chances for) by the sum of SCF and SCA (scoring chances against): SCF*100 (SCF+SCA).
A team that has over 50% SCF% usually indicates it is getting more quality shots than its opponent, but it does not necessarily mean it is winning puck possessions or outplaying its opponent. However, this is a good indicator of which teams are potent on offense.
Scoring Chance Save Percent (SC SV%) (Even Strength)
One great thing about advanced analytics now is we can now figure out which goalies are actually good and which ones are “hiding” behind a great defense. The problem with using the basic save percent (SV%) stat is that it’s too much of a one-size-fits-all metric when not all teams are built the same.
SC SV% shows how well a goalie performs when faced against a scoring chance. This removes all the “easy” saves a goalie makes when opponents simply fire low conversion shots at the net thus there is no stat padding here.
The average SC SV% tends to hover between 85 to 87 percent. Anything higher than that is elite territory. A goaltender with over 90 SC SV% is either Vezina-caliber or playing at an unsustainable rate.
Parlay this stat with the goalie’s team’s SCA. If a team is giving up a lot of scoring chances, they better have a goalie with solid SC SV% or they will be giving up a lot of goals.
PDO (Shooting Plus Save Percentage)
If the NHL had a “luck” stat, this would be it. PDO was named after the inventor, Brian King’s online moniker. This stat adds the team’s shooting and save percentages at 5-on-5.
Teams rated above 100 are either the elite teams or lucky or both. While those below 100 are either unlucky or teams destined for the lottery. In essence, this stat should equalize to 100 as the shot and save percentages among all 31 teams will always equal 100, right?
I usually look at this stat to see if a team is over performing or underperforming. I also check if we can expect a regression of some sort. Unless of course, the team is really good (like the Bostons and Tampas) or really bad (like the Detroits and Ottawas).
Power Play Percent (PP%) and Penalty Kill Percent (PK%)
So far we’ve talked about even strength metrics, but a big part of NHL betting with stats are the special teams. Power Play and Penalty Kill matter almost as much as how a team plays 5-on-5. A team that has legitimate special teams can even compensate for their deficiencies at even strength.
When analyzing a team’s PP% and PK%, find the total of the power play goals they’ve scored and allow and relate that with their total to get an idea on how big special teams are factoring in a team’s performance.
Also take a glimpse of how many minor penalties a team takes or draws. While penalties can be random, certain teams take and draw penalties more than others. Some matchups may yield more penalties than others.
Other Stats to Consider for NHL Betting
These stats are just the tip of the iceberg. Here are a few more that could be critical to your NHL betting research:
- Fenwick – similar to Corsi but excludes blocked shots
- Expected goals for and against – analyzes shot quality based on how likely the attempt leads to goals
- Goals saved above average (GSAA) – goals a goalie has saved/allowed compared to the league average
I implore you to do more research, visit the resources I proposed as a start and keep studying analytics until you get a good read of the teams you are betting on.
Don’t forget to read up on the BetUS sportsbook reviews as well. It’s good to study both the game and the sportsbook to get every edge you need.