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We're almost two months into the NHL season now. Teams have played between 20 and 26 games. The "it's still early" excuse is no longer applicable. At this point, you can't write teams off by saying, "It's just a hot start." Teams have played nearly 30% of their regular season schedules already.
Looking across the league, there's plenty of shock in the standings. There are some teams near the top of the standings that nobody expected to be there, such as the Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers. There are teams such as the Detroit Red Wings and Anaheim Ducks that are squarely in the picture despite most expecting them to struggle. There are also teams like the New York Islanders, who's season is all but over already despite the fact that they were a popular pick to win the Stanley Cup.
Which NHL teams have been the most profitable to begin the season? Which teams are losing their backers the most money? Most importantly, can we expect these trends to continue?
The profitable teams
For the sake of this exercise, we'll assume that you risked one unit on every bet in which the team was an underdog and you bet to win one unit on every game the team was a favorite.
New York Rangers: The most profitable team in the NHL currently is the New York Rangers. They've won 16 of their first 23 games and you've won 6.06 units if you've blindly bet the Rangers in every game this season. The Rangers have won six straight and 10 of 11. They've also won eight straight home games.
However, I wouldn't be rushing to jump on this bandwagon right now. The team ranks in the bottom third of the league when it comes to expected goal rate. More importantly, goaltender Igor Shesterkin is currently injured and will miss at least a week. He's been the team MVP and one of the best goalies in the league. Shesterkin is one of the favorites to win the Vezina at +750 odds.
Minnesota Wild: The Minnesota Wild were one of the better teams in the league last season and they pushed the Vegas Golden Knights to the brink in the playoffs. Most expected them to take a step back this year, but that hasn't been the case. The Wild have won 17 of their first 24 games this season. Minnesota has been the second most profitable team in the league as bettors have made 5.3 units on the Wild this season.
The underlying metrics for the Wild check out and suggest this should be a good team. Outside of Kirill Kaprizov, there are no real stars on the roster, which might keep them under the radar. If there's one question for the Wild, it's whether their goaltending will be good enough to hang with the elite teams. If the market continues to undervalue the Wild, I have no issue with continuing to ride this profitable team. The Wild sit at 16-to-1 to win the Stanley Cup.
San Jose Sharks: The San Jose Sharks have won just 13 of their first 25 games, but their preseason expectation was so low that they've been the league's third-most profitable team. Bettors backing the Sharks this season are up 4.7 units.
James Reimer has been outstanding in goal for the Sharks, and as long as that continues, San Jose could be a value bet as an underdog on a night-to-night basis. There's enough talent among the skaters to be competitive as long as the goaltending holds up.
The money-leaking teams
Which teams have been a money pit so far this season?
Montreal Canadiens: The Montreal Canadiens made it to the Stanley Cup Final last season. We all had a feeling it was a fluky, magical playoff run, but I don't think anyone actually thought Montreal was this bad. The Canadiens have won just six of their first 26 games. If for some reason you've been betting on the Canadiens every night, they've cost you 13.3 units.
Carey Price has yet to play this season, Shea Weber is missing the entire season due to injury, and the team just fired its general manager. It's looking like a lost season for Montreal.
New York Islanders: Last season, the New York Islanders pushed the Tampa Bay Lightning to Game 7 in the conference finals. Entering the season, many had the Isles winning the Stanley Cup. The start to the season? Five wins in their first 20 games. Eleven straight losses. They've cost bettors 10.9 units this season.
The Islanders started the season with a 13-game road trip as their new arena was finishing construction. They looked like they were going to survive, but then they had a COVID outbreak that sidelined nearly half of their team. They fielded an AHL lineup for a large stretch and now are finally starting to get their guys back. Nevertheless, the lack of luck doesn't end there as New York has the lowest shooting percentage in the league. Are the Isles this bad? Probably not, but they're still being priced like a good team, which they clearly are not.
The best over team in the league has been the Colorado Avalanche. We all know they have an explosive offense, but their goaltending has been poor to begin the year. Overs are 14-5-2 in Avalanche games this season.
Other teams cashing overs at better than a 60% clip are the Seattle Kraken, Minnesota Wild, Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, Vegas Golden Knights and New Jersey Devils.
The best under team in the league currently is the Dallas Stars. Their games have gone under the total 14 times in 21 games. Dallas has been known for its defensive prowess for years now.
There's a long list of teams currently cashing unders at better than a 60% rate. Those teams include the Islanders, Rangers, Sharks, Vancouver Canucks, and Los Angeles Kings.