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NHL Betting Trends: When Bad Teams Meet in Meaningless Games

History says you should bet on the home favorite when bad teams play late-season games.
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This content was produced by The Hockey News' sponsor, BetMGM.

Four days after a shootout loss to the Washington Capitals on March 31, 2012, the Montreal Canadiens returned home for their 80th game of a season that was guaranteed to end without a playoff appearance for the first time since 2007.

In NHL betting, the Canadiens (29-35-15) were home favorites (-1.5, +270) against the Tampa Bay Lightning (37-35-7), who were also eliminated from playoff contention. And with two third-period goals to break open a 1-goal game, Max Pacioretty led the Canadiens to a 5-2 win and cover of the puck line.

Three days later, the Canadiens covered again as a home favorite against a bad team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, to cap another profitable late-season run for bad home favorites against bad road teams.

Over the last 15 years, sub-.500 teams – overtime and shootout losses counted as normal losses – are just 33-51 against the spread when playing sub-.500 teams in their 80th game or later. That record, however, because of plus puck line odds, have produced an ROI of +14.3%.

If you bet $100 on the home favorite in each of those 84 opportunities since the 2007-08 season, you’d be up approximately $1,200.

The Canadiens, at 2-1 ATS with a profit of $409, are one of seven teams with a profit of at least $300 in those opportunities. The St. Louis Blues (3-0) have been the most profitable team (ROI of +161.7% and profit of $485), while the Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers have been the biggest losers at 0-4 apiece.

When does the ROI tide turn for late-season games between bad teams? It begins turning about five games earlier.

In games 75+: ROI of -6.3%

Games 76+: -5.8%
Games 77+: -0.7%
Games 78+ +3.8%
Games 79+: +9.3%
Games 80+: +14.3%

Some upcoming games between sub-.500 teams in their 80th game or later:

  • April 25: Flyers at Blackhawks
  • April 26: Devils at Senators
  • April 27: Flyers at Jets
  • April 29: Blackhawks at Sabres

You can view updated NHL odds and more online sports betting opportunities at the BetMGM sportsbook.

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