NHL wagering a much more complicated handicapping sport
June 06, 2017 3:04 AM
by Nick Pellegrino
Basic handicapping philosophy from pro football, basketball and baseball is not often found in the National Hockey League.
Case-in-point No. 1: Hockey can be handicapped by the numbers, or from an emotional factor found in college sports. In my (almost) daily puck selections, I flat-out stated on Friday that the numerical arrows all point toward the Penguins, which then took a 1-0 lead in Game 3. Looked like easy money.
However, I declined to take a side because of the “Win one for the Gipper” mentality. Sure enough, the Preds go to “the room” for the first intermission, go “rah, rah,” then kick the Penguins in the teeth to race to a 5-1 shellacking.
I particularly enjoyed the post-game antics of Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban, skating into a cluster of Pens directly in front of their bench and telling them they’re going to do it again in Game 4… or words to that effect.
Case-in-point No. 2: TV talking heads claiming “it’s not really a series until the road team wins a game.”
If the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins had won Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday, the Pens would lead the series 3-0 and the championship would all-but-be concluded.
This column would instead be a simple eulogy about the poor, upstart Predators making their first, triumphant appearance in the final round to win The Holy Grail, yet be vilified by joining the Washington Capitals as the only clubs to reach the Final and fail to capture even a single contest.
Meanwhile, the Pens would be declared the best thing since sliced bread – or the 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings, the last franchise to claim the title in consecutive seasons.
Half of these journalist jokers routinely spout old, tired clichés –often, they’re not qualified for their commentating role (i.e., Nashville’s radio broadcast team is horrible; you find solid information from Ottawa’s radio team). Yet the public continues to believe the gospel as truth and throw away their money on weak information.
Case-in-point No. 3: Speaking of information, misleading statistics always annoy me. Last week, one local writer noted how the top four scorers in postseason play are from Pittsburgh.
Whoa, gee! Really?
It seems the Pens have played more games than anyone else, while the Predators have few near the top because they only needed a handful of games to race through the Western Conference.
No wonder the Pens skaters are on top… but how does that “knowledge” give you “an apple” (as “assist”) on which side to bet on?
In an interview on the Sports Illustrated website last week, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman noted he was basically unconcerned about bringing hockey to Nevada because the betting action is far superior on the NFL, NBA and MLB. It’s also because for many hockey is the tougher of the major sports, so the wise money goes elsewhere.
Unfortunately, I have taken more than one or two pucks to the “melon,” so I’ve posted modest success with the NHL. Fortunately, the racing season at Del Mar, “where the turf meets the surf,” is a mere six weeks away.
As for the Stanley Cup, even though my Preds selection looked stupid after two games, the way Nashville roared back in Game 3 keeps me optimistic… or I will tear my ticket and wait for October to arrive so I can root for the Vegas Golden Knights… and “my” L.A. Kings.
Message to VGK: When the first Canada-based club visits T-Mobile Arena (especially Montreal), you better have Celine Dion singing “O’Canada” or the city will be very disappointed.