The NHL First Period Over Phenomenon
Of course, the primary reason to bet is to make money, but betting on sports goes beyond just putting some extra cash in your pocket. A lot of people bet on games for the pure fun of watching an enjoyable event become even more enjoyable as you sweat out a bet. The fun factor is the reason why the public is always going to be more likely to bet on the Over than the Under. No one wants to root against points, and it defeats the purpose of the fun factor as every great dunk or touchdown pass hurts you instead of helping you.
While betting the Over on a game is a public play, a less obvious way to bet the total and root for goals is to take the Over in the first period. This strategy isn't just about fun, or about betting overs. It's about making money. The latter two benefits are just bonuses.
During the 2018-2019 season, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning have been particularly adept at hitting the first period over, which is always set by the book at 1.5 goals. Early on, before the first period over phenomenon caught on, these two teams were cashing tickets seemingly every night on the Over 1.5 goals in the first period of their games. Entering the week of February 24, Blackhawks games have been hitting the first period over at a rate of 78%. This is due to the Hawks being 9th in the league in goals scored while allowing the second most goals scored against. Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Lightning on their own are scoring over 1.3 goals per game in the first period. This makes it incredibly likely that their games will go over the total in the first period. Combined with the first period goals allowed by the Lightning, their games are averaging 2.3 goals per game in the first period.
Entering the week of February 24, Blackhawks games have been hitting the first period over at a rate of 78%.
It’s not just the Blackhawks and Lightning that have been doing this though, the first period Over has hit more often than not for the majority of the games in the NHL. The San Jose Sharks are just two behind the Lightning in first period goals scored at 81 and have allowed the same number of goals against at 62. Of course, free money can only be handed out for so long before the books take notice, and the first period over has now been priced accordingly, sometimes with juice as high as -200.
This could be seen as an overcorrection though, and now if you want to take the Under in this situation, you may get a juicy plus-money line. With so much money coming in on the Over, the Under continues to be a profitable bet for certain teams. One of those teams is the Dallas Stars, who do not play aggressive early and combine that with good defense and solid goaltending. So, as a general rule, you want to look to the Under in Stars games, and look to th Over in Blackhawks, Lightning and Sharks games. It’s never quite that easy, of course, but if you find the right situational spots, betting on first period totals can be very profitable in the long run.