2023 NHL Playoffs Analysis: 5 Things We Learned for Our Handicapping After the First Week of Postseason

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Jordan Eberle #7 of the Seattle Kraken celebrates his overtime-winning goal against the Colorado Avalanche. Steph Chambers/Getty Images/AFP.

It’s been all action in the first week of the NHL postseason. With some crazy comebacks and lots of dogs cashing, let’s check out what we have learned from our NHL picks during the first week of this year’s playoffs.

1. Underdogs Are Cashing

With the opening 32 games having seen 15 underdog winners, 4 pick’em winners, and 13 favorites cashing, it’s been a profitable week for you if you love to bet underdogs.

The playoffs are the best time to get on underdogs as sometimes the value is incredibly good. For example, the LA Kings are +200 in their next matchup despite having won 50% of their previous 10 games against Edmonton.

Most importantly, teams are trying their maximum effort, meaning any weak team will try their hardest against the better team. It’s also worth noting a lot of luck comes into play in the postseason as opposed to the regular season. There is less of a time frame for luck to even itself out.

We say keep sticking to the underdogs. Everybody is alive in this playoff round with 4 of the 8 games seeing the series tied up at 2-2 and the other four at 3-1. No team can sweep in this First Round.

2. Over 5.5 Pays Off

Of the 32 playoff games to take place so far, the Over 5.5 goals have cashed in 22 of them, which is a staggering 68% hit rate.

When looking at the 6.5 line, it has cashed 43% of the time, which isn’t at all bad considering the 6.5 line thus far in these playoffs has been rare. The usual minimum juice laid has been -110 with much of them ranging between +100 and +120.

At the very least, the 5.5 total line is worth keeping an eye on at U.S. betting sites as we head into this second week of the NHL playoffs.

3. Home Teams Not Performing

Home teams must be feeling the pressure from the crowd because they have won just 37% of the games. This is also another reason the underdogs have been hot as more often than not the road team is the biggest odds on the moneyline.

Things are bound to even out for the home teams over the next 32 playoff games. With a league average of playoff home teams hitting at 55% since 2008, maybe we will see things even out and fewer road victories in the next week or two.

4. First Periods Have Been All Action

With an average of 1.5 goals being scored across the opening 32 games, there has been a lot of first-period action this postseason. Just 5 of those 32 matchups ended with no goals scored.

During the regular season, all the playoff teams combined saw an average of 51.7% of their 1P games go over the total.

Often in the playoffs, teams start stronger and look to dominate the game on the front foot, which can lead to more goals in the first period. It’s certainly been the charm this season with an 84% hit rate on at least one goal being scored in the first period.

5. Don’t Bank on First Team to Score Winning

So far this postseason, the teams who have scored first have won 62% of the time. Most notably the biggest culprits have been the Seattle Kraken, Winnipeg Jets, LA Kings, and Edmonton Oilers, who just can’t seem to hold a lead. Almost all teams have scored first and lost once.

This can be helpful for in-play betting as the odds on the team who allow the first goal will drift out, even if they are pre-game favorites. Advisably, this would be best to bet during a 50/50 matchup because you will get much better NHL odds, as opposed to a heavy favorite going down one goal.