The NHL season is almost upon us. So it’s time to get your betting strategy in order. We’re not only getting ready for the season to start but to start making money from those games. Here’s a tool to add to your NHL betting guide.

So how do you go about making money from betting on the NHL? When it comes to handicapping NHL games, do fancy stats help?

New to betting on hockey? We have a great NHL betting tutorial to assist you in placing a wager on Stanley Cup odds. To find the sportsbook that’s right for you to get some money down on the ice, head over to our Sportsbook Review page.

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NHL Handicapping: Corsi Or xGF?

You’ve already gone through your standard NHL betting checklist; you’ve looked for who’s at home, what team is on the second leg of a back-to-back, and you’ve checked to see how much either team has traveled before the game. Hey, you might have even gone as far as looking at who’s in the net for both teams.

Great. But maybe you’re still not clear who to wager on. Are there other tools that might help and how helpful might those tools be?

You’ve probably been told to use advanced analytics to help you handicap your NHL picks. Corsi was the stat du jour for a while. Corsi measures shots on goals, shots that missed the net and shots that were blocked. The idea is that if a team had the puck on its stick for a shot, that team was clearly in possession of the puck, and puck possession is what mattered most.

But Corsi has been replaced as the advanced stat to use when handicapping. Expected goals for (xGF%) is what bettors look at now. Expected goals are seen as more accurate in predicting future success because it doesn’t simply look at the number of shots (like Corsi), but the quality of those shots. Where shots are taken matters – the closer to the slot and the net, the better. Quality matters more than quantity.

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NHL Handicapping: Does xGF% Lead To Profits?

As bettors, we’re worried about profitability. Is xGF% a key to unlocking more profits when betting on the NHL?

Note that when I’m talking about xGF%, I’m talking about xGF% in 5-on-5 situations and not all situations. So that doesn’t count the power play or when on the penalty kill.

When looking at things broadly, there’s a strong correlation between winning and xGF%. Teams that ranked high in the NHL standings also ranked high when it comes to xGF%. The correlation rate is 0.77. For all you non-math heads out there, that’s what we call a “strong relationship.”

That is of course a little diluted when looking at the top five teams last season in terms of profitability and cross-referencing their xGF% rank. Here are the top five teams for profits and their xGF% rank in the NHL:

NHL Profitability and xGF% Correlation
Team Profitability xGF% Rank
Minnesota Wild $1,432.16 6
Florida Panthers $1,181.99 2
New York Rangers $1,176.07 24
Carolina Hurricanes $657.00 4
St. Louis Blues $449.37 23

So while Minnesota, Florida and even Carolina were quite profitable in ’21-22 and even ranked high for xGF%, so did the New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues, two teams that were near the bottom of the NHL’s xGF% table.

But when zooming in and looking at profitability, the correlation between solid xGF% numbers (above 50%) and profits is admittedly weak, at a correlation factor of 0.16. You could say there’s no relationship at all between the two.

So is xGF% in and of itself a good tool when it comes to handicapping individual NHL games? On its own, it is not. But when used more generally, as in factoring what team is better, it is a useful tool.

So as you go about making your NHL bets, keep xGF% in mind.

You can find xGF% from most of the advanced NHL stat providers, but my favorite place to go is NaturalStatTrick.com.

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