NHL Betting Trends: When Bad Teams Meet in Meaningless Games

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Montreal Canadiens' Brendan Gallagher (11) competes for control of the puck with New Jersey Devils' Dawson Mercer (18) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 7, 2022, in Newark, N.J. The Canadiens won 7-4. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Andrew Doughty @DoughtyBetMGM Apr 21, 2022, 9:20 AM

Four days after a shootout loss to the Washington Capitals on March 31, 2012, the Montreal Canadiens returned home for their 80th game of a season that was guaranteed to end without a playoff appearance for the first time since 2007.

In NHL betting, the Canadiens (29-35-15) were home favorites (-1.5, +270) against the Tampa Bay Lightning (37-35-7), who were also eliminated from playoff contention. And with two third-period goals to break open a 1-goal game, Max Pacioretty led the Canadiens to a 5-2 win and cover of the puck line.

Three days later, the Canadiens covered again as a home favorite against a bad team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, to cap another profitable late-season run for bad home favorites against bad road teams.

Over the last 15 years, sub-.500 teams – overtime and shootout losses counted as normal losses – are just 33-51 against the spread when playing sub-.500 teams in their 80th game or later. That record, however, because of plus puck line odds, have produced an ROI of +14.3%. 

If you bet $100 on the home favorite in each of those 84 opportunities since the 2007-08 season, you’d be up approximately $1,200. 

The Canadiens, at 2-1 ATS with a profit of $409, are one of seven teams with a profit of at least $300 in those opportunities. The St. Louis Blues (3-0) have been the most profitable team (ROI of +161.7% and profit of $485), while the Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers have been the biggest losers at 0-4 apiece.

When does the ROI tide turn for late-season games between bad teams? It begins turning about five games earlier.

In games 75+: ROI of -6.3%

Games 76+: -5.8%

Games 77+: -0.7%

Games 78+ +3.8%

Games 79+: +9.3%

Games 80+: +14.3%

Some upcoming games between sub-.500 teams in their 80th game or later:

  • April 25: Flyers at Blackhawks
  • April 26: Devils at Senators
  • April 27: Flyers at Jets
  • April 29: Blackhawks at Sabres

You can view updated NHL odds and more online sports betting opportunities at the BetMGM sportsbook.

Jamie Foxx holding a mobile phone next to the BetMGM's risk-free bet offer.
About the Author

Andrew Doughty

Read More @DoughtyBetMGM

Andrew Doughty is a writer for BetMGM with a focus on college football, NFL, college basketball, and NASCAR. A graduate of the University of Kansas, he previously wrote for Sports Illustrated and HERO Sports.

Andrew Doughty is a writer for BetMGM with a focus on college football, NFL, college basketball, and NASCAR. A graduate of the University of Kansas, he previously wrote for Sports Illustrated and HERO Sports.