The goals were coming fast and furious on the opening night of NHL hockey betting action.
The Leafs/Habs, Capitals/Blackhawks and Jets/Oilers games featured a grand total of 26 goals combined. Each game sailed over a total of 5.5.
In fact, if you bet the over on every period, game, team total and grand salami (total goals on the day) on opening night, you went a ridiculous 19-0.
Is this a sign of things to come this season? Will this finally be the year that high-scoring, exciting games return to the NHL? And, more importantly, can we cash in by betting the over on these games before oddsmakers catch on?
Opening night in the NHL has tended to be low-scoring in the past seven years. Only twice during that span have more games gone over the total than under on the first night of the season. One of those times was last season, when the over went 7-6, but keep in mind that teams did not have a pre-season to work on things following the NHL lockout.
It’s a small sample size, but the under was 25-14 on opening night from 2006 to last year.
Do opening-night results mean anything going forward? Well, let’s take a look at the last two times there were extreme results one way or the other when it comes to NHL totals on the first night of the season: 2010, when five of six games went under, and 2007, when seven of eight were lower scoring than projected.
In 2007-08, only seven teams went over the total more than they went under. The biggest over team (Edmonton) was 44-31 over-under. Meanwhile, the Bruins went 30-49 over-under, Columbus was 29-44, Anaheim was 26-44, New Jersey was 26-45 and the Islanders were 29-49. That certainly seems like a continuation of the opening-night trend.
More recently, in 2010-11, nine clubs went over the total more than they went under. The biggest over team (Colorado) was 50-31 over-under. The best under bets were Washington (23-58), New Jersey (24-45), Montreal (26-46), Los Angeles (29-50) and Nashville (27-43). The under, once again, seemed like the way to go.
Obviously, it remains to be seen whether 2013-14 will reverse the trend and whether opening night’s offensive orgy means overs galore this season. All but one team on opening night had 32 shots on net or more. The Canadiens and Jets each had 38. Last year, only one team in the NHL (Buffalo) averaged more than 33 shots per game. That suggests things are a bit more wide open this year.
But, as always, be careful not to over-react to early results, especially with such a small sample size. We recommend monitoring this early-season trend a bit more before convincing yourself that over the total is the way to go this year.