Hockey bettors feasting on one big trend when the NHL goes outdoors

One of the best parts about the seasons rolling into the dead of winter is that it means the outdoor hockey game is upon us.

With three games already in the books for the 2016-17 season, the fourth and final installment of the National Hockey League’s popular outdoor games will be Saturday, February 25: a Stadium Series event in Pittsburgh featuring the Penguins hosting the Philadelphia Flyers at Heinz Field. 

SportsInteraction.com currently has Pittsburgh at +375 to win the Metropolitan Division, +440 to win the Eastern Conference, and +800 to win the Stanley Cup. Philadelphia is at +125,000 to win the Metropolitan, +4,500 to win the East, and +7,500 to win the Stanley Cup.

Players will notice a few significant differences between playing inside an arena and plying their trade in an outdoor stadium environment. Most notably, temperature fluctuations can play havoc with both the quality of the ice surface and the hardness of the puck. There is a chance of rain in the forecast for Pittsburgh early Saturday but it is expected to clear off by the 8 p.m. ET puck drop with temperatures in the mid-40’s and strong winds blowing between 15-22 mph. 

If past history is any indication, bettors can expect the visiting clubs to spoil the party as road teams have had an edge when the roof comes off. Here’s a look at the previous outdoor games, along with the relevant betting numbers:

November 22, 2003: Montreal Canadiens 4 at Edmonton Oilers 3 (O/U: 5)

The first of two Heritage Classics went to the visiting team, while the bone-chilling temperatures at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium didn’t deter the teams from easily eclipsing the total.

January 1, 2008: Pittsburgh Penguins 2 at Buffalo Sabres 1 (SO) (O/U: 5.5)

The Penguins edged the Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium, with the teams combining for 62 shots but still falling well below the total.

January 1, 2009: Detroit Red Wings 6 at Chicago Blackhawks 4 (O/U: 5.5)

The Red Wings made it three straight outdoor victories for the road team, prevailing in a Wrigley Field slugfest that remains the highest-scoring outdoor game in NHL history.

January 1, 2010: Philadelphia Flyers 1 at Boston Bruins 2 (OT) (O/U: 5.5)

The Bruins provided the Fenway Park faithful with the first home victory at an outdoor contest, shading the Flyers in a thrilling overtime contest that saw the teams combine for just 51 shots.

January 1, 2011: Washington Capitals 3 at Pittsburgh Penguins 1 (O/U: 6)

Despite a premium matchup featuring two of the league’s most potent offenses, the Capitals and Penguins finished under the total in the Heinz Field showdown that will be best remembered for Sidney Crosby’s career-altering concussion.

February 20, 2011: Montreal Canadiens 0 at Calgary Flames 4 (O/U: 5)

The Flames earned the first shutout in NHL outdoor history, cashing an Under while giving the home side just its second victory in six outdoor games.

January 2, 2012: New York Rangers 3 at Philadelphia Flyers 2 (O/U: 5)

Citizens Bank Park was the site of the Rangers’ first taste of outdoor action, an entertaining victory over the Flyers. The teams narrowly missed surpassing the total despite combining for 69 shots.

January 1, 2014: Toronto Maple Leafs 3 at Detroit Red Wings 2 (SO) (O/U: 5)

The Maple Leafs and Red Wings did battle at the Big House in front of a record crowd of more than 105,000 people; Toronto made it six wins in eight tries for the road team, while the clubs provided the first push in outdoor history.

January 25, 2014: Anaheim Ducks 3 at Los Angeles Kings 0 (O/U: 5)

The Ducks and Kings skated at Dodger Stadium among the sunshine, palm trees and Kiss halftime show. The road team prevailed again as the Ducks dominated play in this low scoring affair.

January 26, 2014: New York Rangers 7 at New Jersey Devils 3 (O/U: 5)

This game got out of hand. Early. The teams combined for nine goals through the first two periods and the road team – the Rangers in this case – prevailed once again in Stadium games.

January 29, 2014: New York Rangers 2, New York Islanders 1 (O/U: 5.5)

The road team wins again. The Rangers prevailed in their second game at Yankee Stadium in a matter of days in this game, which pushed the road team to nine victories.

March 1, 2014: Pittsburgh Penguins 1 at Chicago Blackhawks 5 (O/U: 5.5)

The Blackhawks took control of this game early, outshooting the Penguins 14-5 in the first period. Chicago poured on the offense notching a win for the home teams and topping the total.

March 2, 2014: Ottawa Senators 4 at Vancouver Canucks 2 (O/U: 5)

Vancouver jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first before surrendering four unanswered goals to the Senators. Home fans left sad again with the Sens claiming victory.

January 1, 2015: Chicago Blackhawks 2 at Washington Capitals 3 (O/U 5)

This game looked destined for overtime when in the final 13 seconds Capitals’ forward Troy Brouwer scored to make sure the home-town fans left happy in the Nations capital.

February 21, 2015: Los Angeles Kings 2 at San Jose Sharks 1 (O/U 5.5)

Seventy thousand fans in North Cali packed Levi’s Stadium to watch the visiting Kings keep the road teams and Under trends alive with a 2-1 win in the second – and final – outdoor game of the 2014-15 NHL season.

January 1, 2016: Montreal Canadiens 5 at Boston Bruins 1 (O/U 5.5)

The Canadiens, who had won seven straight games at TD Garden, took the streak outside and dominated the Bruins 5-1 at Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots. Montreal took control early outshooting Boston 14-5 in the first period and scored the opening goal 1:14 into the game.

February 21, 2016: Chicago Blackhawks 1 at Minnesota Wild 6 (O/U 5)

A home team wins. Minnesota dominated Chicago, Jason Pominville and Erik Haula each had a goal and two assists.  For Chicago, their record falls to 1-3 all time in outdoor games.

February 27, 2016: Detroit Red Wings 5 at Colorado Avalanche 3 (O/U 5)

Brad Richards was the hero for the road team in the first outdoor game in Colorado. The Red Wings winger tipped in a rebound with a minute left in the 3rd period. At 65 degrees this was the warmest outdoor game in the history of the NHL event.

October 23, 2016: Edmonton Oilers 3 at Winnipeg Jets 0 (O/U 5.5)

The first outdoor game held in Winnipeg was delayed for almost two hours because of too much sun, officials worried the glare would create safety issues for players. The road team dominated with three second period goals.  

January 1, 2017: Detroit Red Wings 4 at Toronto Maple Leafs 5 (OT) (O/U 5.5)

Finally, outdoor hockey comes to Toronto. The road team Red Wings held a 1-0 lead after two periods but were outscored 4-3 in a wild third period and were beaten by an Auston Matthews overtime goal in an instant classic hockey game.

January 2, 2017: Chicago Blackhawks 1 at St. Louis Blues 4 (O/U 5)

The Blues became the second home team to win outdoors in as many days as Vladimir Tarasenko’s pair of third period goals proved to be too much for the Blackhawks to overcome. Rain threatened the event throughout, but ended up not being a factor on the ice.

Total: Road team 14-7-0; O/U 9-8-4 (Over is 4-1-1 last six outdoor NHL games)


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