The NHL has expanded its playoffs from six to eight teams with the introduction of the Vegas Golden Knights. The top teams in each division will now play a best-of-seven series leading up to the Stanley Cup Final.

Though the new format presents more opportunities for betting, it also makes it more difficult to handicap the series. The Golden Knights are under the NHL’s “over/under” line for number of goals scored in the playoffs (6.0), which means the total combined goals scored by both teams will fall between 5.5 and 7.5. As the favorite in each series, you can expect the Golden Knights to score and win more often than the underdogs. The line for Golden Knights vs. Boston Bruins is -165, which means you should expect the Golden Knights to win the series by a score of 4.0 or more goals.

## Wondering What T-6.0 Means?

A natural question for a sports bettor is what the ‘over/under’ line for an NHL game means. The line itself is often hard to understand because it is expressed in terms of the favored team and its average goals scored per game over the last 10 matches. The ‘over/under’ meaning is pretty straightforward: if the over (favorite) team wins by more than the under (hope) team, then the bettor wins; on the other hand, if the under team wins, then the bettor loses.

However, the average goals scored per game statistic is a more complicated issue. The reason it is complicated is because there is variance in how teams score goals. Some teams score many goals in a single game while others only score a couple. If you want to know what the line really means, you need to look at the statistics for both teams over the last 10 games leading up to the match.

## Varying Goal Scoring Volumes Can Impact Veracity Of Statistics

The reason why the variance in goalscoring makes the over/under line more complicated is because it is hard to predict how each team will perform on the day of the match. For example, if we look at the last 10 home games for the Tampa Bay Lightning, we see that their average goal tally per game went from 2.6 to 4.0. This would suggest that, on average, their scoring has increased by about 2.4 goals per game over the last 10 matches. However, if we compare their goal scoring totals for the first 50 games of the season (2.6 goals per game), we see that their average has decreased by 0.6 goals per game.

The problem with this type of variance is that it makes it impossible to know if the over/under line is an accurate prediction of the game’s final score. If we assume that the goals will follow a normal distribution, then we can calculate how likely it is that the line will be followed by a certain amount of goals. For example, if we assume a normal distribution with a standard deviation of 1.5 and a mean of 3.0, then we can calculate that there is a 34% chance that the line will be followed by 3.0 or more goals and a 66% chance that it will be followed by 2.0 or fewer goals. On the other hand, if we assume the same normal distribution but a standard deviation of 2.0 and a mean of 4.0, then we can predict that there is a 50% chance that the line will be followed by 4.0 or more goals and a 50% chance that it will be followed by 2.0 or fewer goals.

## Anomalous Goaltining Trends Could Have Impact On Line’s Accuracy

Though the variance in team goalscoring makes it difficult to handicap team statistics, it is still possible to handicap the over/under line for an NHL game. One way to do it is to examine the team’s overall goal differential (Goals For minus Goals Against). This number will always be close to zero (0) in a normal season as the teams are usually close to even in goals scored and allowed. However, if we assume that there is a small amount of skewness (unfairness) in the goals scored by each team, then the goal differential will begin to take on a life of its own and could potentially lead to some interesting predictions. For example, if we assume that the goals scored by the Lightning over the last 10 matches are, on average, 1.5 goals lower than their season average, then their goal differential would increase by 0.5 goals (1.5 – 2.0 = 0.5).

The above example shows how even small variations in goalscoring can have a major impact on the statistic. Though this might seem like a theoretical possibility, at least part of the reason why the line is set at an even number is because there have been cases where a small variation in goalscoring had a major impact on the outcome of an NHL match. For example, the Anaheim Ducks won the Pacific Division with a 6.0-over-under line (5.5 goals) in part because, in the first 6 games of the season, they scored 6.0 goals per game while allowing 3.1 goals against; in the last 4 games of the season they allowed 4.9 goals per game while scoring 2.6 goals.

## NHL Playoff Betting: When Do I Start Losing And Winning?

The start and end points of a wager on an NHL playoff game are usually the same: (1) the opening game of the series (if there is more than one); (2) the last match of the series (if there is more than one). The reason for this is that the team with the most points at the end of the season is usually the one that wins the Stanley Cup. Thus, betting on the final score of an NHL playoff matchup is a losing proposition, as the favorite will almost certainly win. However, if you want to wager on which team will win the series, then you should look to make your wager before the opening game. This is because the ‘over/under’ line is set based on the combined results of the prior 10 matches and the fact that the Golden Knights are a relatively new team makes it difficult to project their results in the future. For instance, if we look at the 2016-17 season, then we see that, across the board, the favorites are winning more often than not and this trend will likely continue in the playoffs. This makes it relatively easy to justify placing a wager on the Golden Knights in a playoff matchup vs. team from the Central Division.

Though the odds of betting on an NHL game are usually not in your favor, it is still possible to profit from hockey betting if you know how to do it. One way to do it is to look for mismatches, which are games where the spread is heavily in favor of the underdogs. The reason why these are often good bets is that the number of goals scored in each match tends to be low resulting in a significant goal differential. Another way to profit from hockey betting is to look for games where there is a high variance in team goalscoring. These are the types of games where it is more difficult to predict the outcome and where you can easily make a profit or lose a large amount of money. For example, if we look at the 2016-17 season, then we see that about half of the regular season’s matches were decided by a total of 3.0 or more goals while about a quarter of the matches were decided by a score of 2.0 or fewer goals. Though this seems like a fairly even split, it is important to remember that there was a lot of variance in the goals scored by each team. If we examine those games where there was a high degree of variance, then we can see that a good number of them were low-scoring games where the favorites won by a significant margin and we can also see that about a quarter of the matches were extremely high scoring games where the underdogs narrowly avoided losing. These types of games are worth a look for those who like to wager on hockey matches.