As a sports bettor, you need to be aware that weather is a factor in the NHL playoffs. That seems like a ridiculous statement, but it’s true. Bettors who are aware of the potential for weather issues in a game, and who can adjust accordingly, can give themselves a much needed edge as the playoffs progress and the remaining teams get better and better.
How does the weather affect the NHL playoffs? Quite simply, really. Rinks are designed to keep buildings at a suitable temperature so that ice can be consistent. For the most part they are able to maintain ice well, but there are two enemies to their efforts, and both come in the spring as the playoffs progress – heat and humidity. Because the doors open and close so much before a game it can be very hard for a building to control the temperature and humidity in the building. Both factors have the same basic impact on ice – it makes it much slower. When ice gets warmer or more humid then it gets softer, and that makes it harder to skate fast. Hard ice is fast ice, so soft ice slows things down and NHL handicappers need to keep this in mind..
There are further issues that can be caused. If the ice remains soft then it is also going to deteriorate more rapidly and more significantly. If they turn up the refrigeration and the air conditioning in an attempt to control the situation then there is a good chance that the problem can swing in the other direction and the ice can become brittle and also fragile. Either way, it is very hard for icemakers to maintain a good surface during the playoffs. This is even more of the case if they have to remove or cover the ice frequently – like if the building is also being used for the NBA playoffs.
When trying to determine whether the weather is going to be a factor in the playoffs and should be considered when preparing to bet there are four factors to keep in mind:
History of the building – It’s far more likely that the ice is going to be a factor if it has been in the past. Some buildings have more problem than others – the southern arenas are often a problem because of their weather, for example. By looking back at what has happened in the past NHL handicappers can get a sense of whether something is likely to happen again.
Team speed – The more a hockey team relies on speed to get their edge, the more significantly it is going to be impacted by problems with the ice. There are some teams that look to move up the ice faster than their opponents can set up on defense, and which try to get back on defense as quickly as they can. A team that is particularly fast is hard for an opponent to play against at the best of times, but that difficulty can be particularly significant later in the NHL playoffs if they have the stamina to maintain their speed because their opponents will be getting tired and more worn down. Soft ice could serve to slow down the team and minimize their edge. The betting public is more likely to focus on the edge their speed gives than the challenges of the conditions, so savvy sports bettors could find value.
Passing aggressiveness – Some teams rely on longer breakaway passes in an attempt to create opportunities and mismatches. Others prefer shorter, puck controlling passes. If the condition of the ice is suspect then those longer passes are higher risk. Teams could fail to complete those passes effectively, or they could be forced to alter their game away form what has got them to where they are. A team that is less aggressive with their passing – or less reliant on aggressive passing for their success – could be a more attractive bet if the weather is likely to be an issue.
Familiarity with ice issues – NHL handicappers need to realize that a team like Edmonton is going to be far less familiar with dealing with softening ice and the issues it brings than one like Tampa Bay. If those two teams were playing each other in the playoffs then they would both have to deal with the same conditions, but Tampa would clearly be better suited to adapting and adjusting than Edmonton would. Teams on the east coast would be better at dealing with humidity and the effects than a team from somewhere like Calgary or Denver where humidity isn’t often an issue. Use these facts when handicapping and betting on the NHL playoffs.