Hockey bettors naturally have gravitated toward betting over the total in games featuring Canadian teams due to the fact that the average number of goals scored has been much higher in the North than in any other division. However, bettors looking for goals should set their sights on the West. The Golden Knights, Blues and the Sharks have gone Over far more often than not.
While games featuring the Ducks have trended mightily in the opposite direction, staying under the total more than 70 percent of the time. The Avalanche are a wild card and betting their games to go Over really should hinge on whether Philipp Grubauer is in goal. In particular, though, there are two teams that have made apparent changes to their style of play, and as a result, are playing at a much higher pace than they were a season ago.
Last season, games featuring the Los Angeles Kings only went over the total 40 percent of the time. This season, however, the Kings are 10-3 to the Over. A big reason for this is that Jonathan Quick is playing to the tune of a .867 save percentage. The veteran goaltender has made six starts and all of them have gone Over. The other reason is pace of play.
According to Evolving Hockey, the Kings and their opponents are combining to generate more than six expected goals per 60 minutes. Coupled with the fact that Quick has faced new goaltenders Ville Husso, Hunter Miska and Kaapo Kahkonen, it’s no surprise that betting the Over has been a profitable endeavour.
Watch out for Calvin Petersen and his .926 save percentage, though, as he should continue to start more games than Quick. Bettors should be aware there’s a big difference between the two and thus choose their spots accordingly. Look for situations where Petersen is expected to start but does not. Even more so if the Kings are facing off against the likes of Martin Jones, Devan Dubnyk or any of the other aforementioned goaltenders. The betting market will react accordingly to any surprise appearance by Quick so time is of the essence.
Sticking in the West, the Arizona Coyotes have gone 9-3-1 to the Over, but it’s not because the team doesn’t have strong goaltending. Darcy Kuemper has been very good if we’re looking at him through the lens of expected goals. Based on the quality of the shots that Kuemper has faced, we can say that he has been above average. The issue here seems to be that, for better or worse, the Coyotes are playing with much more pace than they were last season.
The Coyotes grade out as the ninth-best team on offense by expected goals but rank as the fourth-worst defensive team by that same metric. This is a stark contrast to what we saw last season when many were labeling the Coyotes as a defensive team. Far too often, teams that just don’t generate much get stuck with that label. They’re not a defensive team and bettors should have less confidence in their ability to suppress shots and chances than they did a season ago.
Be on the lookout for Antti Raanta to start more games for the Coyotes now that he appears to have recovered from a recent injury, though Kuemper has proven to be the superior goaltender over the past few seasons and should be valued as such.