The headline from Tampa Bay’s win over Columbus on Monday night was that Nikita Kucherov had a hand in all five goals in the Lightning’s resounding 5-1 victory.
The subhead, at least among handicappers, was that the Lightning’s game once again went over in the first period.
There’s been a funky little trend this NHL season that has been very profitable for seasoned bettors. Tampa Bay, the Flyers’ opponent Tuesday night, has been among the biggest benefactors. But the tendency has cooled a bit, so handle with care.
The Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSIN) was tipped off early in the season that the over/under goal total in the first period for certain teams had been hitting at a nice pace. At one point, more than 80 percent of games involving high-flying Tampa Bay went over in the first period. The Lightning’s number is down to 73 percent after a 5-6 run over their last 11.
Kucherov, who had two goals and three assists Monday, scored twice in the first. The first-period over/under is typically 1.5 goals for each game.
“There is a limit when betting this trend of [first-period overs],” said Alex B. Smith, a handicapper for AxSmithSports.com whom VSiN credits for uncovering the trend, “and even though Tampa has been [among] the hottest all season, going up against Philly isn’t exactly an auto-bet because of their recent form in the [first period].”
Bookies are reluctant to move off 1.5 goals, so they increase the odds. Mitch Moss, cohost of VSiN’s morning show on SiriusXM, points out that games earlier in the season that might have been -160 to go over in the first period “may be -210 or -220 by the time the puck drops.”
During their current 12-1-1 streak, led by the strong goaltending of rookie Carter Hart, the over in the first period of Flyers games is just 7-7.
>>READ MORE: Carter Hart steals another one
Tuesday’s Flyers-Lightning first period over/under of 1.5 opened around -160. For every $160 wagered, bettors win $100. (Or $16 to win $10.)
“As for the Flyers’ current run," Smith said, "it shows that they are one of these teams in the second half [of the season, like Chicago and Calgary, also] that have started games slow and then the offense explodes over the last 40 minutes of play, giving bettors a decent shot at cashing some live wagers over, even if the 1P Over fails to hit.”
Overall, just 47.5 percent of the Flyers’ games this season (28-31) have gone over 1.5 goals in the first period. Their three opponents this week — Tampa Bay, Montreal and Pittsburgh — have hit at 73.3 percent, 57.6 percent and 62.7 percent, respectively.
Chicago (47-13) is tops at 78.3 percent over. The Blackhawks gave up two goals in the first three minutes Monday and combined with Ottawa to score nine in the first period. Chicago won the game, 8-7.
As someone pointed out on Twitter, that game had more scoring than the Super Bowl.