8 NHL Bets That Are Losers

Image of NHL Players Mixed With a Sportsbook

The NHL often gets overlooked by sports gamblers because of football and basketball season. But the NHL offers an opportunity for the bet gamblers to add to their yearly profits.

One of the best ways to start making NHL profits is to learn which games to avoid so you can use your time wisely. When you know which games n the schedule you can ignore, you can spend all of your time evaluating games that might offer true value.

Here’s a list of eight NHL bets that I’ve learned to avoid over the years. I take a quick look at the schedule for the day, cross off games that have these situations, and look at the other games to find profitable wagering opportunities.

1 – Bad Goal Tenders

When I’m betting on the NHL, I create a ranking of goal tenders in the league. I rank every starter and back up goal tender from best to worst. I use a combination of statistics and what I see when I watch hockey games to compile my list.

The list does change throughout the season, but it’s rare for it to change a great deal in season. I develop and adjust a new list every season.

This is important because every time you evaluate an NHL game you need to start with the goal tenders. Any game you evaluate that shows possible value on the team with a weak goal tender is one you have to be careful with.

A bad goal tender can lose a game without any help from the rest of the team.

When I evaluate an NHL game and it looks like there’s value on the team with a bad goal tender, I almost always skip the game. It’s too difficult to make long term profits betting on these teams.

2 – Rookies on the First Line

The NHL is like the other professional sports leagues in some ways. One of the most important ways is experience.

NHL teams with experienced first lines are much easier to predict than ones starting rookies. This doesn’t means that a team starting a rookie or two can’t compete. What it means is that NHL teams with rookies on the starting lines are rarely consistent.

One game the team might play really well, and then the next game they might struggle. When I look for value when I bet on NHL games I look for consistency. It’s too hard to make a profit when a team doesn’t play consistently, and rookies are the most inconsistent thing you can find in the NHL.

3 – Weak Defensive Players

The two defensive players that form the main defense in front of the goalie don’t get much attention. But they can make or break a team any time they’re on the ice.

In the first section I covered the importance of goalies, but the truth is that a strong defensive player or players in front of the goalie can help a goalie look better than they are.

And on the other side of this, weak defensive players can make a good goalie look bad. You need to build a ranking of defenders for each team in the NHL just like your ranking of goalies.

NHL Player by the Goal

Avoid betting on the NHL teams with the worst defensive players.

While it’s not quite as important as the defenders in front of the goalie, you also need to learn how well the wings and centers play defense on each team. Many of the best centers and wings don’t play great defense. You need to know which ones help their goalies and which ones hurt them.

4 – Schedule Warriors

You need to be aware of the schedule for every NHL team. Which teams are the most rested and which teams are coming off a challenging stretch on their schedule?

Hockey is a challenging sport. Players get beat up and the season takes a toll on the body of every NHL player. And some games wear down players more than others.

It’s not a good idea to bet on teams to win that aren’t as well rested as their opponents. And teams coming of a game or two that have been real battles are more likely to play worse than expected than a team coming off an easy game or two.

Take a look at the schedule at the beginning of the season to look for stretches of games that are going to be challenging for each team. And always look at the recent schedule for each team when you’re handicapping upcoming games.

5 – New Coaches after the Initial Surge

An interesting thing happens when an NHL team changes coaches. This is especially true when they change coaches in the middle of a season.

When a new coach takes over the team almost always plays better at first. Then the team usually goes back to playing close to the same as they had been playing before the coaching change.

Most teams that have a coaching change are playing bad. In fact, they’re playing worse than expected. This is why the coaching change is made. But coaching isn’t always the problem. Sometimes the team is just not good.

When a new coach comes in, the team might start playing better, but it’s usually because the team is performing worse than they can. When they start playing better it’s usually just moving back toward the norm.

When they reach the norm, they tend to revert back to playing close to the norm. This means that after a team with a new coach has an initial surge, it’s not a good idea to bet on them to perform better than they did earlier in the season.

6 – Coast to Coast Issues

NHL players and coaches are professionals, but this doesn’t mean that they’re not human. One of the things that influence the performance of humans is how far they have to travel and how many time zones they have to travel across.

When a team travels from the east coast to the west coast they not only have to travel a long way, they also have to deal with the time difference. This is something that always influences how players perform.

NHL Players in Physical Play

The same is true for teams that have to travel from the west coast to the east coast, but it’s easier to deal with playing earlier than normal than dealing with playing later than normal.

Be very careful betting on teams that travel a long way to play. I usually don’t bet on any NHL road team that’s traveled over 1,000 miles to play.

7 – Picking a Loser to Win

I’m not talking about assigning a player or team a designation as a loser. The truth is that every NHL player is better than 99% of the population when it comes to playing hockey.

What I’m talking about is a team on a losing streak. I generally consider a losing streak to be at least three games long.

When an NHL team is on a losing streak, I either bet on their opponent if I find value or don’t bet on the game at all. It’s too hard to predict when a team is going to break out of a losing streak to bet on them and make a profit.

8 – Heavy Minutes for Stars

One of the things that most NHL gamblers ignore is how many minutes the best players on each team have played. Early in the season this isn’t very important, but later in the season and in the playoffs this can be a big deal.

Identify the most important players on each NHL team and track how many minutes they play during the season. Once you start tracking minutes and compare them to the results of late season games, you can start seeing a pattern.

This doesn’t means that a bad team with fresher stars is going to consistently beat a great team with stars with high minutes, but it can help you adjust your handicapping and win more games.


I’m not saying that every bet on this page is going to be a bad bet 100% of the time. But they’re a bad bet enough of the time to make them unprofitable.

Your goal as an NHL gambler should be to make a profit, and it shouldn’t matter how you make the profit. This means that you need to learn which games to skip so you can spend more time finding profits on the other games and NHL betting lines.

Start with this list of losing NHL betting mistakes and add to it as you find other bad situations. This helps you quickly narrow down the best betting opportunities every day during the NHL season.