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NHL weekly betting guide: Can we see upsets coming?

Ben Jackson / National Hockey League / Getty

On Monday, brave bettors might have taken the Blue Jackets as big home underdogs against the Bruins. That matchup served as a clear example of one team coming into a game with an inflated market rating and the other with a deflated rating. Let's take a deeper dive into each club.

Boston Bruins

The Bruins have started a second straight season by exceeding expectations. The market's projection that they'd collect 100 points was the 10th-highest in the NHL, suggesting they'd be 9.4% more likely to beat an average team on any given night. The Bruins were 10 games above .500 on the moneyline prior to their recent three-game losing streak, so oddsmakers adjusted for their exceptional play and boosted the team's rating.

Looking at their advanced metrics, the Bruins are punching above their weight - even more so than last year.

METRIC 2022-'23 2023-'24
xG% (5-on-5) 53.2 51.4
HDC Conversion % (5-on-5) 12.6 14.8
Team GSAx/60 +0.726 +0.596

Boston's even-strength expected goals share (xG) is lower than it was in 2022-23, they're converting high-danger chances at a higher (less sustainable) rate than last year, and the team's goaltending, while still very good, hasn't been Vezina-like.

Columbus Blue Jackets

A week ago, Columbus was 4-15 for moneyline bettors. Naturally, the market dinged them for their rating - which was just shy of 20% below that of a league-average team. However, while a 48.05 xG% doesn't light the world on fire, the Blue Jackets' even-strength play was better than nine other teams - including the Maple Leafs and Canucks. Elvis Merzlikins and Spencer Martin mustered a combined total of 0.79 goals saved above expected (GSAx).

In the last week, that goaltending duo has stopped almost a full goal (0.86) above expected as Columbus has won three of four, with the lone loss coming down to the wire in Carolina.

The Blue Jackets' stats were improving even before they handed the Bruins their third straight loss in a 5-2 game.

The cheat sheet

The dirty little secret in the betting world is that, while there are no bad bets at the right price, the discovery process of what a good price looks like is hidden.

Each week, we balance market information from regular-season point totals and in-season advanced metrics - with an even-strength focus - to determine the win probability for each team and the moneyline needed to bet on either side. The idea is to remove the cognitive bias of win-loss records, which can be skewed by outliers like special-team results, poor goaltending performances, and other unreliable events.

You can use whatever parameters you like to decide how much of an edge you need to trigger a bet, but here are mine:

True line favorite of -111 or longer: 1%

True line between -110 and +110: 2.5%

True line underdog of +111 or longer: 4%

I also have a 5% win probability consideration for a team playing in the second game of a back-to-back with travel and a 3% consideration for the second leg of a home back-to-back. When it comes to injured players, an estimation is made on the player's impact on their team's win probability.

When the betting markets open up the night before, you can compare those prices with our "price to bet" column to see if you're getting any value with either side's moneyline. There's a possibility that a moneyline moves into a bet-friendly range between the market opening and puck drop.

Nov. 28 FLA@TOR 38.1/61.9 FLA +193/TOR -156
NYI@NJD 39.3/60.7 NYI +183/NJD -148
CAR@PHI 59.6/40.4 CAR -142/PHI +175
PIT@NSH 50.2/49.8 PIT +110/NSH +111
STL@MIN 40.3/59.7 STL +176/MIN -142
DAL@WPG 52.1/47.9 DAL +102/WPG +120
SEA@CHI 56.1/43.9 SEA -123/CHI +150
VGK@EDM 36.1/63.9 VGK +212/EDM -170
TBL@ARI 48.7/51.3 TBL +117/ARI +105
ANA@VAN 30.1/69.9 ANA +283/VAN -222
Nov. 29 MTL@CBJ 45.1/54.9 MTL +143/CBJ -117
DET@NYR 44.3/55.7 DET +148/NYR -121
WSH@LAK 38.2/61.8 WSH +192/LAK -155
Nov. 30 CHI@DET 39.2/60.8 CHI +184/DET -149
SEA@TOR 40.6/59.4 SEA +173/TOR -140
PIT@TBL 47.4/52.6 PIT +123/TBL +100
SJS@BOS 30.5/69.5 SJS +277/BOS -217
NJD@PHI 59.0/41.0 NJD -138/PHI +170
FLA@MTL 62.8/37.2 FLA -162/MTL +201
NYI@CAR 38.7/61.3 NYI +188/CAR -152
EDM@WPG 52.2/47.8 EDM +101/WPG +121
MIN@NSH 49.7/50.3 MIN +112/NSH +109
BUF@STL 47.6/52.4 BUF +122/STL +100
COL@ARI 59.0/41.0 COL -138/ARI +170
DAL@CGY 50.8/49.2 DAL +107/CGY +114
VGK@VAN 51.4/48.6 VGK +104/VAN +117
WSH@ANA 48.4/51.6 WSH +118/ANA +104
Dec. 1 SJS@NJD 27.5/72.5 SJS +325/NJD -251
OTT@CBJ 53.3/46.7 OTT -110/CBJ +134
Dec. 2 TBL@DAL 41.1/58.9 TBL +170/DAL -138
CHI@WPG 36.4/63.6 CHI +209/WPG -167
NYR@NSH 46.5/53.5 NYR +135/NSH -110
NYI@FLA 43.0/57.0 NYI +156/FLA -127
DET@MTL 52.1/47.9 DET +102/MTL +120
BOS@TOR 43.8/56.2 BOS +151/TOR -123
SEA@OTT 52.2/47.8 SEA +101/OTT +121
BUF@CAR 36.7/63.3 BUF +206/CAR -165
PHI@PIT 37.1/62.9 PHI +202/PIT -163
STL@ARI 48.9/51.1 STL +116/ARI +106
WSH@VGK 41.4/58.6 WSH +167/VGK -136
COL@ANA 63.1/36.9 COL -164/ANA +204
VAN@CGY 43.7/56.3 VAN +152/CGY -124
Dec. 3 CHI@MIN 29.3/70.7 CHI +295/MIN -230
SJS@NYR 39.3/60.7 SJS +184/NYR -148
NSH@BUF 44.5/55.5 NSH +147/BUF -120
CBJ@BOS 39.4/60.6 CBJ +183/BOS -148
COL@LAK 44.9/55.1 COL +144/LAK -118
Dec. 4 DAL@TBL 50.9/49.1 DAL +106/TBL +115
PIT@PHI 54.9/45.1 PIT -117/PHI +143
SEA@MTL 55.4/44.6 SEA -119/MTL +146
CAR@WPG 53.2/46.8 CAR -109/WPG +134
WSH@ARI 49.3/50.7 WSH +114/ARI +107
STL@VGK 38.0/62.0 STL +194/VGK -156

Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.

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