The shootout has become an important part of regular season NHL hockey, yet a lot of bettors give shootout performance almost no consideration when they are handicapping a hockey game. Because a significant number of games wind up in the shootout, being able to effectively handicap teams in the shootout could make the difference between a profitable season and a losing one for bettors. The ability for a team to shine in the shootout should never be the single reason you are making a bet on a team, but if two teams are reasonably well matched and the game should be close then the shootout ability could be the deciding factor in your bets. When you are handicapping a hockey game here are six factors to consider regarding shootouts:
How often do the teams go to overtime? – Shootouts are obviously only important when a team tends to head into overtime regularly. If the team rarely makes it into overtime or a shootout then there is no good reason to worry about shootout performance because it’s not relevant. Some teams have a tendency to play more overtime periods than average – often because they have the combination of strong goaltending and underwhelming offense. Other hockey teams don’t reach overtime as much because their offensive and defensive play aren’t well matched.
How well have they been doing in shootouts? – There are some NHL teams that are particularly good at shootouts, some that are just average, and some that have all but conceded the extra point before the shootout starts. There are several reasons why teams can be bad at shootouts – their goalies aren’t effective on breakaways, their top scorers don’t perform well under the structure, or the team doesn’t have players who have established themselves as shootout specialists. Shootout performance is one aspect of the game that it is very hard for teams to improve quickly, so what a team has done in the past is very instructive.
Does the shootout performance seem sustainable? – If a team is performing really poorly or really well in shootouts then you need to assess whether you feel the performance is sustainable at the level it is at, or if they are likely to return closer to average. If a NHL team has opened the season with three dominating shootout wins, for example, then you could deduce that they might be a solid shootout team, but it would be reasonable for sports bettors to assume that they won’t be able to perform as well as they have throughout the season.
Does a tie seem likely? – When NHL handicappers look at the game they should ask if they feel like a tie is a real possibility? If the teams aren’t well matched – like if one team is very strong on offense and the other has struggled defensively – then there to worry too much about shootout performance because it isn’t particularly likely to happen. One shortcut to tell if a tie is likely is to look at the regulation-only lines for games. If one team is very heavily favored in regulation then the oddsmakers really aren’t expecting a tie, and you probably don’t need to be very concerned.
Who is in net? – Some NHL goalies are much better at shootouts than others, and the goalie is absolutely crucial to shootout success. If a team has had a lot of success in shootouts then it is really important to make sure that the goalie is starting the game is the same goalie who has been in net for a good portion of the shootout wins. If you don’t confirm this then you may not be betting on a team that really is as strong in the shootout as you assume them to be.
Is the value in betting to include overtime or not? – There are two main ways to bet on hockey. You can bet on the outcome of the game in regulation time only, or you can bet on the final outcome of the game whether it is decided in regulation, overtime, or the shootout. The lines move independently of each other based on how people are betting. Sometimes the value will be in one type of bet, and other times it will be in the other. Needless to say (hopefully), NHL handicappers don’t need to worry about shootout performance if the value is in betting on the regulation outcome.