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How Have NHL Betting Favorites Performed in April? The Numbers Beyond the Recent 22-Game Streak

How Have NHL Betting Favorites Performed in April? The Numbers Beyond the Recent 22-Game Streak article feature image
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Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Calgary Flames

Betting favorites in the NHL didn’t stop with a 14-0 sweep on Saturday. The chalk continued on Sunday, creating a bloodbath for sportsbooks during what’s been a 22-game win streak for favorites.

The last underdog to win a game in the NHL came on Thursday when the Vegas Golden Knights topped the Calgary Flames 6-1, as +150 dogs.

With two weeks remaining in the regular season, is this domination from favorites just a blip on the radar or a trend that both bettors and oddsmakers need to consider moving forward?

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“While the recent run from favorites is quite remarkable and also unfortunate from a trading angle, we don’t want to overreact as bookmakers and would assume some regression to the mean over the next two weeks,” PointsBet Trading Content Analyst Michael Korn said. “That being said, it’s something that’s certainly caught our attention, and we will be monitoring closely.”

If it feels like favorites are dominating in April in hockey, it’s because they are. According to Bet Labs, teams favored in April are winning 67% of the time. However, that has only resulted in a 4% return on investment. A $100 bettor taking every single favorite this month would be up $518 — that includes this recent run.

While there’s still time, this hasn’t been the most profitable month for bettors backing the favorites. In the 2009-10 season, favorites won 65% of the time for an 8% ROI and a $1081 profit. Since 2005-06, favorites have been profitable during April nine times compared to returning a loss seven times.

We use April as the example because it’s past the trade deadline, meaning the bad teams got worse and the good teams got better. The bottom of the league is tanking as the best teams gear up for the playoffs.

“It’s really a different league after the trade deadline, so you need to tread very carefully when it comes to betting underdogs right now,” Action Network NHL editor Michael Leboff said. “Not only have these teams traded away important players, but those players are traded to the good teams, which makes the gap even wider than it was pre-deadline. This season, that gap was already quite wide.

The books are not loving this run by NHL favorites 😬 pic.twitter.com/NtOgZZA8m2

— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) April 18, 2022

Handicapping motivation is often tricky. But as Leboff notes, the Eastern Conference playoff picture is already set — at least in terms of the eight teams that will be playing. The bottom of the Western Conference is still up for grabs with Vegas three points behind the Los Angeles Kings for the No. 8 seed.

“Even in the West, the number of teams with ‘meaningful games’ is dwindling fast,” Leboff said.

So, what’s a bettor to do? Will moneyline parlays continue to hit as the top of the league takes care of business against the basement teams? On Monday, only two of six games feature favorites with odds shorter than -200. The Seattle Kraken are -120 against the Ottawa Senators; the Dallas Stars are -111 against the Vancouver Canucks.

A moneyline parlay on the Golden Knights (-335), Carolina Hurricanes (-400), Colorado Avalanche (-205) and Calgary Flames (-295) would net about $223 on a $100 bet.

The better solution may be to wait.

“I think one way you can look for opportunity is sitting back and waiting for the playoffs,” Leboff said.  “The gap between playoff teams is razor thin, and with the way favorites have performed in the regular season, we may see the chalk inflated in the postseason.

“As we always do, we saw some big upsets in the playoffs last season with the Canadiens beating the Leafs, the Knights beating the Avalanche and the Islanders beating the Bruins.”

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