One of the biggest clichés in hockey is that anyone can win once we enter Lord Stanley’s playoffs but with the trend that’s seen underdogs dominate on the moneyline (and puckline) so far this postseason, that sentiment rings surprisingly true.
Looking at the numbers, moneyline underdogs are an impressive 18-13 through 31 playoff games and if you’re a $100 bettor that’s backed the underdog every single game in the first week of the Stanley Cup playoffs, you’re $1038 richer. That profit is nothing to sneeze at, unless your spring allergies are bothering you like they are me, as that return on investment (ROI) works out to be 33.5 percent.
To put that into a little bit of perspective, most diversified mutual fund portfolios offer an ROI of around 10 to 15 percent, best case. The 33.5 percent you’re getting from betting underdogs in the NHL playoffs this campaign puts that return number for mutual funds to shame.
I’m not saying that this trend will continue for the rest of the playoffs as it’s likely books will make an adjustment, but if you pick your spots correctly, it can still pay off.
For example, Game 4 between the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins opened with the Sens as +135 dogs. Prior to the playoffs, I had these teams ranked very closely and actually picked Ottawa to win the series. I was baffled to see such a valuable line just a game after the Sens dominated the B’s in Boston, outshooting them by 12, and immediately bet it, expecting the line to close near EVEN – how wrong I was.
When I checked the lines while doing my daily elliptical session – that barely qualifies as a workout – I noticed that the Sens had been bet DOWN to +155. My obligatory skepticism that I was being a square quickly subsided and I promptly hammered the Sens moneyline for the third time that day.
It was a close game but the Sens grinded out a 1-0 victory and came away with a 3-1 lead in the series. All in all, I walked away about five units up for that game alone and I most likely have desperate Boston fans betting their team and people who subscribe too religiously to the zigzag theory to thank for that.
The point I’m trying to make here is that you shouldn’t blindly bet a favorite because of a certain situation or because of the public perception of a team. Analyze the stats and see which club has a better chance of winning. If you think the game is a virtual coin flip, as they often are in the playoffs, bet the team that offers you the most value. It truly is that simple.
I’ve been taking this approach all postseason and I’ve done very well for myself – not to brag.
Follow Rob on Twitter @robtrocity for more betting tips and info throughout the NHL playoffs.