The NHL Work Week: Why there are fewer goals on Mondays than there are on Tuesdays

Updated: December 16, 2009 at 11:11 am by Jeff Tay


Most people who work at full-time jobs are all too familiar with the feelings that they associate with Monday mornings, and how these feelings differ from those that they associate with Friday afternoons. For some of us, Mondays are when we feel the least motivated, Wednesdays are when we feel the least energetic, and Fridays are when we feel the least patient. For others though, it may be feelings that are completely different.

Of course, how we all feel about the individual days of the week really depends on factors such as where we work and how much we like our jobs—but are these feelings only exclusive to people who work at regular 9 to 5 jobs? Or, does the 7-day week also have an impact on NHL players as well?

Obviously, the average work week for an NHL player is unlike that of any individual who works at a regular 9 to 5. However, the NHL schedule does offer a lot of regularity on a week-to-week basis; most teams play on Saturdays, most teams have Sundays off, and most teams play two or three times between Mondays and Fridays, with Thursdays being the busiest of those five days. Considering this strong semblance of week-to-week regularity within the schedule, it is certainly understandable then why a certain trend has developed over the season with regards to the number of goals being scored in games, during specific days of the week.

Here is how this trend breaks down:

As far as Mondays are concerned, NHL players may appear to share many of our sentiments regarding returning to work after the weekend. Many folks find themselves working at a slightly slower pace at their day jobs on Mondays, and NHL players appear to do exactly the same thing.

Most of the games which have taken place on Mondays, so far this season, have actually been lower scoring affairs, seeing the total goals scored in 39 out of the 63 games played (62% of all Monday games) going under the key number of 5.5. In fact, November 2nd was the only Monday this season to have more games on that day go over the total of 5.5 than under it (2 games went over 5.5 and 1 game went under). NHL teams just don’t seem to have the same jump and scoring prowess coming out of the weekend.

On Tuesdays, however, NHL teams appear to be fully recovered from their weekend hangovers, and perhaps, even more energetic than usual. The extra day of rest appears to make a significant difference when it comes to scoring.

Tuesdays this season have featured more higher scoring affairs than lower scoring ones, seeing the totals in 29 out of the 47 games played (62% of all Tuesday games) going over the 5.5 goals mark. Out of the 11 Tuesdays in this NHL season so far, 8 of them have actually featured more games on the day going over the total of 5.5 than under it. This is especially dramatic when considering the fact that only about 46% of all NHL games played this season have gone over the total of 5.5 goals.

Subsequently, Wednesdays seem to bring the offensive intensity of NHL teams back down again. Perhaps, there is a lack of midweek motivation to fire teams up for their Wednesday night affairs, or perhaps, teams may even be playing better defensively on Wednesdays due to conscious or subconscious commitments to being more responsible in their own ends.

In either event, Wednesdays’ scoring trends appear to mirror those of Mondays’, seeing the totals in 42 out of the 68 games played (62% of all Wednesday games) go under the total of 5.5 goals. In fact, the goal totals in all 6 of the individual games which took place on Wednesday, November 4th, were all under 5.5, as were the totals in 10 out of the 14 games on Wednesday, November 25th, and 8 out of the 10 games which took place on the most recent Wednesday, December 9th. These were indeed some extremely profitable days for those who bet a lot of the games to go under the posted totals.

So far, the aforementioned three days of the week, have produced a notable up and down pattern this season, with regards to the goal totals in their games either going over or under the key total of 5.5. Although this pattern does continue throughout Thursdays and Fridays, the swings become significantly less dramatic. We have seen, so far, that 62% of all Monday games this season have gone Under 5.5 goals, 62% of all Tuesday games have gone Over 5.5 goals, and 62% of all Wednesday games Under 5.5 goals.

To continue this pattern, a relatively small majority of 51% (43 out of 84) of all Thursday NHL games this season have gone Over 5.5 goals. Not the most overwhelming figure, but still a figure nonetheless. Similarly, on Fridays, a miniscule 51% (33 out of 65) of all the games played have gone Under 5.5 goals.

Finally, to a somewhat surprising statistic—considering the energy and excitement that usually surrounds Saturday nights in the NHL—56% of all games played on Saturdays this season (81 out of 144) have actually gone Under 5.5. This includes the 17th of October, in which 10 out of 13 games went Under 5.5, the 31st of October, in which 8 out of 11 games went Under 5.5, and the most recent Saturday, the 12th of December, in which 8 out of 12 games went Under 5.5. Sundays also feature similar statistics to Saturdays, seeing 12 out of its 22 games this season (55%) going Under 5.5.

To sum this all up, it may not make a huge difference which day of the week the Columbus Blue Jackets play the Toronto Maple Leafs, as that matchup may almost invariably produce high scoring games, but the next time you find yourself unsure of which totals you want to play on a given night, you could always look at which day of the week it is. It could result in some unexpectedly profitable bets, as well as some relief-inducing no-bets.