NHL Teams Playing First Home Game After Long Road Trip

Listening to the radio in February 2013, I heard that Carolina Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller was nervous about that night’s game against the Leafs because the Canes were playing their first game after a lengthy road trip.

Such a scenario is widely perceived as a tough spot for teams. The first game back after a long road trip can almost feel like another road game for teams, plus there’s the distractions of reuniting with family and friends after being gone for a while.

It got me wondering how big of a disadvantage it is to teams. And I was surprised with what I found.

Going back through the 2011-12 NHL season, I found 97 situations when teams were on road trips of four games or longer.

Just looking at win/loss records can be misleading when it comes to NHL betting. Since moneylines can be as high as -200 for some teams, it’s impossible to determine whether it’s profitable to blindly bet on or against teams playing their first home game after a long road trip.

So I looked at the NHL betting odds in those games, and added up how bettors would have done if they had bet against every team playing its first home game after a road trip of four games or more.

If you’d bet against teams in that situation, you would have lost more than $1,000. $1008, to be exact, if you bet $100 on every underdog or to win $100 on every favourite in that situation.

Conversely, bettors would have made $1008 if they’d bet on teams every time they played their first home game after a road trip of four games or more.

Doesn’t look like such a tough spot for teams anymore, does it?

There’s no question that playing your first home game since returning from a long road trip isn’t an ideal situation. But it appears oddsmakers are fully aware of this “tough spot” for teams and have actually overcompensated NHL betting odds the other way.

Just something to keep in mind the next time you hear about teams concerned about the first game back after a long trip on the road.