Handicapping NHL Hockey Based on Travel Schedules
Oddsmakers account for a team’s travel when setting NHL lines, but even more so, bettors take travel into account when making their wagers.
Because of this, sportsbooks are forced to adjust based on public action. In that sense, travel affects the line.
It’s easy to see that a tired team won’t have as much in the tank as a rested team, but there’s more to consider when handicapping a team’s schedule in relation to their opponent.
NHL teams sometimes play three games in four nights, and let’s face it: They’re not too fresh by the time the third game rolls around – especially late in the season when the effects of the schedule have taken hold.
Purely in terms of the quality of the sport, NHL teams play too many games. That means teams are ripe for a letdown spot throughout the season given that hockey is a sport based very much on momentum and emotion.
Travel fatigue matters, but so does the makeup of the team in question. Don’t automatically fade a team because they’re at the end of a road trip. For instance, a deep team that doesn’t necessarily rely on a handful of key scorers can be better equipped to pull out a game on the road at the end of a trip.
Goaltending is an important factor when capping tired teams. Clubs with elite goaltenders have a guy between the pipes that can steal a game when their legs aren’t there. Make sure the No. 1 guy is playing, though. Sometimes teams throw the backup netminder between the pipes at the end of a long trip.
Travel is worse for Western Conference teams because they endure longer trips than their Eastern Conference counterparts. Travel especially affects clubs in the Central Division, which features teams centered a long way from their conference foes on the West Coast.