Hockey is a grueling, physical sport, so it is inevitable each NHL season that several teams will be forced to play for some period of time without their best player. The impact of a single player isn’t as significant in the NHL as it is in many other leagues, but the loss of a superstar caliber player for any period of time can have a huge impact on the team, and the significance of that impact can grow as the length of the injury expands. Smart bettors need to be able to effectively assess the impact of the loss of this caliber of player in order to know whether the best opportunities exist in betting on the team or betting against them. Here are eight factors to consider when trying to do so:
How good is he? – This seems like a very simple question, but it is truly the most significant one to ask. The public is very attracted to stars, and they are not quick to adjust the reputation of a player once they have determined that he is a superstar. It’s very important, then, to make sure that you have a sense of what the player is currently contributing to his team, not what he was able to contribute when he was at his best. If the public has an inflated idea of the impact of the player then they are likely to overreact to the loss of that player. You need to make sure that he really is still the best player on his team, and get a sense of what the team is really missing out on by not having him around.
How deep is the team? – The deeper a team is, the easier it will be for the team to make up for the loss of the superstar. there are some teams out there that have first line caliber player on their third line. Those teams can make up for the loss of a first line player as long as they can figure out the chemistry issues. Other teams lack enough players to make up for the loss, and will be forced to bring up a player from the minors, or play players in situations that aren’t ideal for them.
Is he the heart of the team? – Leadership is very important on an NHL team. The addition of a strong leader can turn a good team into a great one, and the loss of a leader can drive a team into the ground. The leader of the team isn’t always the best player, so it’s important to make sure that you have a sense of what will be lost in the locker room when the player is on the sidelines.
What impact does it have on lines? – Normally when we talk about lines in sports betting we are talking about odds. In hockey, though, the other kind of lines are just as important. When a player on the top line is out of action then that will potentially have an impact on every other line as well as players are moved up and around to fill the gaps. Every time a line is changed there are potential chemistry issues as players have to get familiar with new linemates and new responsibilities. You also need to consider that if the player has a big impact on the production of his linemates as well then they could be far less productive without him. The more the lines will be shook up by the loss of the player, the more significant the impact of the loss could be. Some coaches like to change up their lines all the time, though, so those teams will be far more capable of adapting to the changes.
What impact does it have on special teams? – The power play and penalty kill units are particularly important in the NHL, and changes can be hard to make on those units. The best player on a team may not play on both units, but chances are good that he will play on at least one. Taking a look at what impact his loss will have on those units, and how capable the team is of compensating for him and replacing him, is a very important step.
Has he been out before? – One of the best ways to get a sense of what is likely to happen is to look at what has happened in the past if and when the player last missed a significant amount of time. When Sidney Crosby was lost to a recurrence of concussion issues in 2011 it was a big blow to the Penguins, but there was no need to panic because the team had played without him for several months when the concussion problem first arose, and they were able to remain competitive without him.
How long is he gone? – If a player is only likely to miss a week or two of action then it is far easier for the team to adapt to his loss than it is if the player will miss a long period of time. When the absence is short the team can just make due, but over longer periods the team actually has to make substantial changes to how they operate.
How will the public respond? – This is always a factor is sports betting because public betting has such a big impact on how lines are set and how they move. The public is very star driven, so if the lost player is popular and the team is successful then there is a good chance that the public will overreact to the situation.