We’re just two weeks into the NHL season, and in many jurisdictions in the United States and Canada, this is the first full NHL season in which bettors are able to place legal wagers on hockey. And with more markets than ever available to bettors, the popularity of prop bets on NHL games is soaring.
We had a conversation with @WallaBets (also known as Steven Joffe) from props.cash — an education and resource tool that helps sports bettors make better prop wagers using relevant analytics — to pick his brain for a few tips to consider before placing NHL prop bets.
Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Sports Handle: It’s very early in the NHL season, but have you noticed any trends that could be beneficial to bettors yet?
Joffe: I’ve been looking at players that have had an increased amount of shots on goal in the preseason. Some of them are carrying over that volume to the regular season. And some guys that I may have trusted in the past, when I look at their preseason numbers, they were a little lower than usual. So I’m kind of waiting it out on them just to see. You have to be cautious when looking at preseason numbers, though, but it can be beneficial to get an early edge in the regular season.
Do you find that revenge games are profitable when it comes to props? For example, do you think a player is more likely to pad stats when he plays against his former team after a trade, or after he signs with a new team and plays his former team for the first time?
I think you have to consider a lot of context. If we look at Nazem Kadri, he just won the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche and now plays for Calgary. It was such an emotional time and he seemed to leave Colorado on good terms. I think it’s different when there’s an ugly breakup between a team and a player and that player is determined to have a big game against his former team. You can take advantage of that.
— Walla (@WallaBets) October 22, 2022
How strongly do you factor advanced analytics into your handicapping process for props?
One of the best things to look at is expected goals for. You might look at the box score and notice a particular player has only scored a couple of goals over a handful of games. But when you examine this advanced stat, you might discover that a lot of their shots most of the time would have been goals and that’s a really huge factor. You might see a juicy betting line for that player and then you know the trends show that some goals could be coming soon. You can really dig a lot deeper than what the box score says.
In your opinion, which sportsbooks are the best for placing hockey prop bets with?
Bet365 is really unique. DraftKings, FanDuel, and other sportsbooks don’t allow you to bet same game parlay points for players on the same team, and bet365 will allow you do that. It’s almost like a cheat code for hockey because the majority of goals scored in the NHL are not unassisted goals. So you can wager on all three guys on a top or hot line who are dishing the puck around to each other. For example, you can parlay David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron on the Boston Bruins to each get points and you can get it +200 instead of betting -200 for them to get points individually. FanDuel is also really great. They offer alternate shots-on-goals props. So you can set your own line based on your data. There might be more juice, but those hit rates skyrocket when you get to pick the over/under line.
What about goalie props? How should bettors approach those?
I don’t bet a ton of goalie props, but I know some people that do. I bet on a lot of shots-on-goal props, but that logic can also carry over to goalie props. If a team is giving up a ton of shots, and the opposing team coming in has been shooting a lot, there could be some value on betting that goalie to make a lot of saves. The risk there, though, is that if the goalie can’t stop the flurry of shots, the team could pull him before you can cash the over on your saves-made ticket.
What advice would you give to new NHL prop bettors?
When I first started, I wagered on shots on goal. It’s very basic. You can just research the shots allowed and stick to the top teams before you start investigating different angles. Try to keep it simple. It might sound silly, but also get educated on the rules. I’ve been noticing a lot of people on Twitter not understanding what should be counted as a shot on goal and complaining. Make sure you understand what you’re about to bet on. Sometimes, stats will change during or after the game. Shots or points can be taken away, or added, by league statisticians after a review. And of course, props.cash is a great tool to help get you started with your handicapping process and organize your data.
— Walla (@WallaBets) October 22, 2022
Many operators I’ve spoken to have said they take a ton of action on prop bets surrounding star players. Should bettors be wagering on these star players? Or should they look for value with lesser-known players?
Many times you can find some good value with players on a second line. Last year, the Blues’ second line absolutely went off for 10 straight games. Points, goals, assists, the betting lines were always better on the second line than the team’s first line. Rob Thomas, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Pavel Buchnevich went wild. Rob Thomas had an assist in nine or 10 straight games and he was priced at +110 every single game. You can find those kinds of lines. You can catch the books off guard when a given coach shuffles his lines, too. When a second-line center jumps up to the first line, or gets promoted to the top power play unit, a stats boost is likely and sometimes the books are slow to react.
Is there an edge when a given team is playing on the second night of a back-to-back when it comes to props?
I definitely pay attention to this situation when looking at shots-on-goal props. There are trends there. Some guys might just not get up the shots on the second night of a back-to-back set, while others typically remain unaffected. You might see the opposing team come in and really focus on getting pucks on the net. A team will enter the game with a certain mindset and then adjust as the game goes on.