Even though football, basketball, baseball and hockey are team sports, each one has a key player that controls the pace of the game. The quarterback is the go-to guy in the NFL. A team’s top scorer has a big impact in NBA games. The starting pitcher in MLB games sets the early pace. The goalie fills that role in the NHL.
These are all key positions that have a big impact on the betting lines for individual games in all four sports. This impact gets dialed up even higher in certain sports such as baseball and hockey. Betting lines remain off the board for games in these sports until the starting pitcher and starting goalie for each team has been set.
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When it comes to betting on NHL goalies, a good starting point is current form. The regular season lasts 82 games ahead of a postseason that lasts four best-of-seven rounds. Over that length of time, any team’s top goalie is going to have some ups and downs along the way. The ups and downs in the regular season may have an impact on a team’s position in the standings. However, a hot goalie in the playoffs can lead to a Stanley Cup title while one that goes cold can lead to an early exit.
When it comes to this season’s betting action, the New York Islanders have the highest return on a moneyline bet in the NHL at plus $1,077 through their first 44 games. They also have the top goalie in the league in Robin Lehner. He has appeared in 23 of those games and he is at the top of the list in goals allowed (2.21) and save percentage (.926). The Islanders’ backup goalie is Thomas Greiss and he has a win-loss-tie record of 13-8-1 with a GAA of 2.62 and a save percentage of .918. New York has made most of its money on the road closing as an underdog.
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The Vegas Golden Knights have successfully shaken of a slow start as defending Western Conference Champions. Since beating Colorado 2-1 on Dec. 27 as -145 home favorites, they have won eight of their last nine games to improve to 28-16-4 overall. Leading the way has been veteran goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. With six victories in his last seven starts, he has quickly moved to the top of the list in the NHL in total wins this season with 26. San Jose’s Martin Short is second on the list with 21.
Fleury’s overall record this season is 26-11-4 which equates to Vegas winning 63.4 percent of time when he gets the start. That winning percentage jumps all the way to 70 percent over his last 10 starts. This is a perfect example of winning NHL bets riding a hot goalie.
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The Tampa Bay Lightning are the best team into the league through the first half of the season at 35-9-2 which adds up to 72 total points. The next best team in points with 64 is the Calgary Flames.
The Lightning just so happened to lose to the Islanders 5-1 this past Sunday as heavy -165 road favorites. Even with the loss, Tampa Bay has the second-highest return on a moneyline bet at plus $1034. This is the highest scoring team in the NHL with an average of 4.04 goals a game which makes life much easier for its top goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
However, he remains a big part of the winning formula at the other end of the ice with a 2.55 GAA and a save percentage of .922. Even with missing a month of playing time due to injury, he has managed to post an overall record of 18-5-2 in 24 games between the pipes. Before Sunday’s loss, he had won eight of his previous nine starts.