The most important position in hockey is the last line of defense – the goaltender. An off-night for the goalie often spells doom and gloom for the team’s chances of winning the game.
The NHL odds will reflect a goaltending change the moment word gets out that the regular starting goalie will be getting a breather and the backup will be tending the twine.
How Do I know Who’s in the Net?
If you click the NHL tab on the OddsTrader , you can get an enormous amount of information that runs the gamut from the odds at all of the best online sportsbooks, as well as the time of the line moves, statistical data on each team, injury reports, and projected starting goaltenders.
Unfortunately, some teams wait quite a long time before releasing their lineup, revealing which goalie will play.
What you can do for yourself is research the patterns the coach uses to rotate his goalies. If there is one key goalie then he might play five consecutive games before getting a break.
However, if a team has a goaltending tandem, two netminders who are so equal that a platoon situation emerges, then it is often tough to tell. But in those instances, the coach will eventually ride the “hot hand” and play one over the other until he cools off.
But one thing you can be certain of is that there will be different goalies on back-to-back games. Therefore, if the starter plays on Friday night, then you can be sure that the backup will play on Saturday. Only in rare circumstances would a coach play the same goaltender in consecutive games.
Exploit Goaltender Mismatches
Let’s understand that handicapping a hockey game has many elements to it but few, if any, are more important than who will be patrolling the crease. It is similar to a starting pitcher in baseball, as he is the straw that stirs the drink and so too is the goaltender.
Whenever possible, look for instances where the starting goalie is in for one team but the backup goalie is in for the other. That, unto itself, is not the be-all and end-all, but it is an excellent starting point from which to handicap your game and cash a winner in your NHL picks.
It is also important to understand that some coaches will reveal their lineups early while others will keep them a secret until close to game time. Remember, a projected starter is not a verified and confirmed starter so make sure you wait until you know who is playing. After all, it is the single most important position on the ice and valuable information to have.
Lastly, we should also note that most NHL starting goalies are fairly even. Perhaps there are five in the league who are a notch above the rest while there are a few at the opposite end of the spectrum who are only starting because the franchise has no better option.
Those bottom-tier goaltenders will either be relegated to a backup role or out of a job sooner than later. However, they do serve a purpose for those who like to bet hockey, as they can be excellent fade material, especially if the opponent has one of those elite netminders in their lineup. That is a mismatch well worth exploiting!