Getting Paid for Overtime: Finding Potential Profits from the Volume of 3-Point Games in the NHL

Updated: December 16, 2009 at 12:34 am by Jeff Tay


On any given night, a quick glance down the NHL scoreboard will more than likely yield a few sightings of ‘FINAL-OT’ or ‘FINAL-SO’. Three-point games in the NHL this season have become somewhat of an epidemic. In fact, out of the 60 nights of NHL hockey that we have enjoyed so far this season, only 14 of those nights ended with no games going to overtime or shootout, and many of these OT-less nights actually featured no more than 3 games on the schedule. At the other end of the spectrum, the busiest nights on the NHL schedule, Saturday nights, have averaged nearly 3.5 OT contests each.

However, it may be most surprising to find that highest OT-to-game ratio actually occurs on the day of the week with the fewest NHL games: Sundays. Out of the 20 NHL games played so far this season on Sundays, 8 of those games have actually finished in OT or SO. That is a whopping 40%—whereas, by comparison, a total of 27.3% of all NHL games played this season have gone to OT or SO.

Perhaps, this is an anomaly, and a mere 20 games do not make a large enough sample size, or perhaps, there might be something more to it. Many teams that play on Sundays are also involved in games the night before, and many Sunday games also start earlier in the day than the usual 7PM local time. Such factors could play a part in this statistic, and it might be something worth keeping an eye on.

Also worth keeping an eye on, would be the teams that have been involved in many of these overtime sessions. The Dallas Stars currently sit at the top of this list, with 13 of their 31 games this season going to at least OT, and not too far behind Dallas are the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, each with 12 OT appearances. However, delving a little deeper, the Anaheim Ducks might actually hold the most lop-sided stat, having seen 6 out of their 12 road games this season go to extra time. Other notables have been the New York Islanders 8 out of 20 road games going past regulation, Calgary’s 7 out of 17 road games ending in OT/SO, and Chicago’s 7 out of 16 home games ending in an extra frame.

With so many 3-point games this season, and so many teams having tendencies to play to them, the possibilities of profiting from these games are wide open. Perhaps, the Calgary Flames +0.5 in regulation may be the way to play them the next time they visit the Chicago Blackhawks, or even a regulation time TIE at +300 might be worth a look if Dallas ever plays Tampa Bay on a Sunday afternoon.

27.3% of all NHL games this season have gone to OT/SO, so don’t be surprised about how often it happens, and don’t be afraid to factor them into your bets.