Betting NHL Outdoor Games: Factors to Consider When Wagering
How do you bet on an NHL outdoor game? Good question. It’s a little more complicated than looking at the NHL power rankings and grabbing the best teams.
Since the NHL started playing games outdoors again in 2003, with the Heritage Classic in Edmonton between the Oilers and Montreal Canadiens, 25 contests have been waged through the 2017-18 season.
While you can never tell what will happen, we do have some trend lines and tips to guide you if you’re considering checking out ice hockey bookmakers and placing a wager on either of the two league-sponsored outdoor games coming within the next two months (Boston at Chicago, at Notre Dame Stadium, Jan. 1, 2019 in the Winter Classic, and Pittsburgh at Philadelphia, Feb. 23, 2019, at Lincoln Financial Field in a Coors Stadium Series game).
Outdoor NHL Betting Tips
Road Teams Have Dominated
Road teams won eight of the first 10 games held outdoors and were 15-10 through the first 25. Tough to say exactly why, but I’ll venture one theory: Distractions for the home team.
In games like these, home team players not only have the burden of playing on unfamiliar ice sheets in an unfamiliar building, but they have to deal with lots of ticket requests from family and friends. Ask any player who has been to a big playoff series, and they’ll tell you they are often driven batty by the constant distractions from uncle Harry and aunt Sue over ticket requests for such big games.
Road teams don’t have to deal with that as much, and I think it helps them just go out there and have one mission: win the game. Home teams want to put on a big show for everyone, and that can mean players try to do too much. Home players often have family in town for the holidays, extending past the Winter Classic games, and that’s when they can lose focus.
One thing to keep in mind, however: In 2017, home teams swept all four contests. So, a once-overwhelming trend was muted a bit.
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Consider Betting the Over
From 2016-2018, the over was 6-3-1. So, keep an eye out for teams with tenuous goaltending situations and teams that feature strong attacks and jump in on an NHL goal market,
Watch the Trends
The Flyers lost their first three attempts outdoors, in 2012, 2016 and 2017. The Chicago Blackhawks dropped three of its first four. The New York Rangers have been the best team outdoors from 2003-18, posting a 4-0 mark, including a pair of wins in 2014 over the Islanders and New jersey Devils.
Which Team is Older?
If you’re betting on one player to better withstand the elements, who do you go with -- the younger guy or the older guy?
This is not proven science, but in hardy outdoor conditions that can include minus temperatures, high winds and harder ice surfaces (or even slushy, if the weather is warmer), younger guys probably just have an edge over the older guys.
In the 2019 Winter Classic, Boston and Chicago have similar average player ages (about 27.8 at last check). But one of Boston’s players is 41-year-old Zdeno Chara, so it throws things out of whack a little bit. Overall, Boston is slightly younger than Chicago.
Is it Really Home-Ice Advantage?
In 2014, Toronto played Detroit in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 2018, Washington and Toronto squared off in Annapolis, Maryland. The Blackhawks are listed as the home team for the 2019 Winter Classic. But the game will be played in Indiana.
It’s more of an advantage when the home team has that full-throated roar of the crazy die-hards in attendance. In these outdoor games, it’s more of a social day for everyone. That can help the road team.
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