Earlier this month, the NHL introduced a mandatory equipment change for goalies. They now must wear streamlined pants which are tighter, rounder, and more form-fitting. It supposed to be more comfortable for goalies but also opens up the possibility for more goals. The league's overall totals record this season is currently 362-361 O/U. But since the equipment change was implemented last Saturday, games have gone 32-25-6 O/U which comes out to 56% "overs." It’s not a jaw dropping number by any stretch but it does point to the NHL’s attempt to give fans more offense. More changes are reportedly on the horizon and expected to be introduced prior to the start of the 2017-18 campaign. The recent trend towards the “over” is something worth monitoring in the weeks to come as goalies around the league continue to adjust.
Let's also discuss a trio of teams that have been strong to "over" in recent weeks. The Minnesota Wild have been on one of the longest running totals streaks I’ve seen during my near decade run of betting the NHL. Since December 13, the Wild have gone a remarkable 21-4-3 O/U. This is a talented offensive group that has been aided by the fact that their front line has remained incredibly healthy thus far. The Winnipeg Jets have also been quite an "over" tear with a 16-4-1 O/U run. Winnipeg has a very capable scoring lineup led by the likes of Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Nikolaj Ehlers and rookie sensation Patrik Laine but they also have a subpar defense and very weak goaltending unit. They have turned into the the league's quintessential "over" team. The Chicago Blackhawks have quietly cashed "over" tickets in eight of their last nine games. During that span they have either scored and/or allowed 3+ goals. Chicago is 8th in the league in scoring averaging (2.9 gpg) and are as healthy as they’ve been in a long time with their forwards after the recent return of Artem Anisimov. Chicago’s goaltending hasn’t been nearly as reliable this season with Corey Crawford going through various struggles. Scott Darling is serviceable but not necessarily a goalie that produces on a consistent basis. The blue line has also really suffered as it ranks a below average 22nd in the NHL in shots on goal allowed per game. Keep your eye on Minnesota, Winnipeg and Chicago moving forward as oddsmakers have yet to make significant adjustments regarding their respective pricing when it comes to totals.
The NHL has always been looking to create more offense, much like the NFL has done in recent years. The equipment change is likely just the beginning of what projects to be moves that should produce more scoring. Today's betting markets are typically sophisticated enough to pick up on league-wide changes but savvy bettors should still be able to swoop in and make some healthy profits.