How the Short Season Affects NHL Betting

NHL

With the NFL finally starting on January 19th for a reduced 48 game season, bettors will be eager to turn a profit once the post-lockout season starts. But what effect will the short season have on NHL teams and NHL betting?

Conditioning Will Be Key

 

Most players will be ready to explode with adrenaline once the season begins, and therefore it might benefit NHL betting fans to investigate what teams and players have performed well in previous high-stakes environments, where the adrenaline is equally raised.

 

Even if they are prepared for the new season, however, the players won’t be accustomed to feeling the adrenaline runs out – a phenomena evident in the in 1994-95 season where a number of players complained of feeling mentally and physically shattered despite the shortened period.

 

This will be less of a problem for players who have been getting ice time and match experience in the American League, who have already played over 30 games. Compare this to players who have had no ice time, it doesn’t take a lot to work out who will be more prepared come game day. Players who have kept match-fit in other leagues, such as those in Europe, will also benefit.

 

As an example, the Edmonton Oilers have had their top six forwards playing hockey during the lockout, while the Vancouver Canucks players have mainly been dormant, which should theoretically give the Oilers an edge in NHL betting for the start of the season.

 

The Bigger Squads Will Benefit Even More

 

Bettors may think that a reduced season would benefit the smaller squads, with a less demanding schedule producing fewer injuries and requiring less rotation. The opposite is more likely, however, as the intensity has increased.

 

A team would normally play 82 regular season games in 210 days – a game every 2.56 days – however this season they will play 48 games in 97 days – an average of a game every 2.02 days. Teams will also be playing more than 50% of their games under the fatiguing “four games in seven days” timeframe.

 

Logically, injuries will be a major area of concern for the teams this season as there will be less time for players to recover from game to game. Older players will also find the compact schedule hard to handle and will be more susceptible to injuries.

 

This was evident in the shortened NBA season last year, as franchises that had bigger squads rested older players and saved them for vital games. With such strain on players due to the shortened season, franchises will need more bodies on their roster to cover for injuries and rest days than they had in the past.

 

If teams start resting their veteran players against weaker opposition, NHL betting handicaps might prove more inaccurate when opening, overestimating the size of defeats.

 

Geographical Advantage For the East

 

Also worth noting is the possible advantage over the long term for teams based in the Eastern Conference, as it has a smaller geographic locus between teams compared to the West.

 

With all games in the shortened season being played within conferences, the only time the teams in the East will leave the time zone will be to play in Winnipeg, while Western Conference teams will play games in all four time zones.

 

This will obviously mean that teams in the East will have less travel in such a short period of time, and mentally it is easier to prepare for games if you are settled rather than racking up air miles across different time zones.

 

The Eastern Conference New Jersey Devils won the shortened 1995 Stanley Cup. They convincingly smashed the Western Conference opponents Detroit Red Wings 4-0 in one of the most one-sided Stanley Cup finals of all time – scoring 16 and conceding just 7 in the four games.

 

A Quick Start is Vital

 

After the delay caused by the lockout, this season’s NHL has almost half the number of games (48) of a typical season (82). The 59% reduction means that the outcome of each game is that much more important, and a poor start could be fatal.

 

History tells us that teams that start strong don’t necessarily finish well – and vice versa – but in a shortened season, slow starts have the potential to seriously damage a team’s playoff hopes.

 

For instance, after 24 games of the regular season last year the Minnesota Wild were tied for first in the West conference, while the LA Kings were 8th. The Wild subsequently finished 12th, while the Kings went on to win the Stanley Cup. In a shortened season, the story could have been very different.

 

The last time the NHL had a 48-game season back in 1995, the previous year’s Stanley Cup winners the New York Rangers finished the shortened season as eighth seed. After their sluggish start, they were easily eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by Philadelphia.

 

(Source: Pinnacle)

 

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