Late-season trends worth following
February 20, 2019 3:02 AM
by Bob Christ
After a seven-month stretch of being consumed by all aspects of the NFL, many of us are taking a breather from the daily routine of examining injury reports and sorting through a bottomless pit of football data while looking for an edge.
But this relaxation period doesn’t mean it’s necessary to take a break from making intelligent wagers off the winter sports menu. Especially when it comes to hockey.
Unlike Gaming Today hockey writer Nick Pellegrino, who has a lot of inherent knowledge of the NHL, not all of us can rattle off the line combinations of teams in the Pacific Division. But that’s O.K. All you need is a printout of the league schedule and you’re good to go.
The key over the years has been to bet against the home team no matter the foe when coming off a road game the day before .Overall this season through games of Monday, home teams have a .532 winning percentage. But when coming off that dreaded road game a day earlier their mark is 26-38 (.406).
This isn’t a fluke, either. In similar research done four years ago at roughly this stage of the season, home teams were 9-18 in this spot. And in a previous study from the beginning of the 2010-11 season until midway in the 2012-13 campaign, the home guys were only 50-64.
Here’s another trend that’s been easy money this season. Home or away, teams that play after four or more days’ rest against a squad that has had no more than three days off have an 20-31 mark (.392).
How poor is that? Bottom-dwelling Ottawa has a winning percentage that isn’t far off at .373.
An extreme example occurred in New York on Jan. 29 when the Flyers, who played the night before at home against Central-leading Winnipeg, faced the Rangers, who were coming off a nine-day break. Philadelphia won 1-0 behind backup goalie Anthony Stolarz, who has since been traded.
Incredibly, teams without a day of rest are 21-18 when facing over-rested teams.
Runaway points leader Tampa Bay isn’t immune to this, either. The Lightning are 45-11-4 overall, but 1-2 coming off four-days’ rest. Twice in this role it faced a team that played two days earlier — losing 4-1 at home to Vancouver (the Canucks were at +245) and later 4-2 at Pittsburgh. So, mark March 30 on the calendar, which is when the same scenario plays out as Tampa plays host to Washington.
Below are games to watch out for this week:
Home teams off road games night before: On Friday, Ottawa hosts Columbus (two days’ rest); Saturday, Columbus hosts San Jose (one day’s rest); Sunday, Washington hosts the Rangers (zero days’ rest).
Also, on Thursday, a Vancouver team coming off a four-day break plays host to Arizona, which was to play two nights earlier in Edmonton. The money line should be nice for a Coyotes wager.
For Vegas Golden Knights fans, two games to watch out for later this year are when they play at Dallas on March 15 and April 1 at Los Angeles. In both cases, Vegas will be facing a team off a road game the night before.
But in the case of the game vs. the Stars, the Knights will be coming off a four-day break. This is one of only two games this year in which both of the aforementioned trends come into play.
In the other, Toronto, on four days’ rest, won at Columbus 4-2 a day after the Blue Jackets played in New York vs. the Rangers.
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