NHL Handicapping: Exploring Advanced Statistics and Analytics

NHL handicappers aim to assess teams and players to find +EV (Expected Value) bets by analyzing NHL statistics, analytics and various metrics.

Today, NHL teams hire data and analytical professionals to gain an edge. So, why aren’t you also utilizing advanced NHL statistics, analytics and metrics when handicapping hockey games?

One common reason is that a lot of NHL bettors simply don’t understand the numbers, which is a common sports betting mistake.

In our new Betting Academy feature, we’re going to explain advanced statistics used to handicap all of the major sports and today we’re going to explore the growing NHL analytics community.

Our NHL handicapping guide will be updated regularly with new stats, analytics and models to help you win at sports betting.

Our plan is to build off of this page as well with more in-depth coverage of using NHL stats.

We have in-house NHL handicappers that utilize these same statistics to generate winning picks.

Popular NHL Statistics and Analytics

The following information is aimed at introducing NHL handicappers to popular stats and analytics used by handicappers. Our goal is for this guide to be an introduction for beginners.

As we grow our NHL statistical models based off AI, we’ll begin to rank them based on the correlation to winning.

Corsi – Shot Attempts (SAT)

Corsi, which is officially known as “shot attempts (SAT)” is a concept you’ve likely heard of, as the advanced NHL statistic is widely used among hockey journalists and broadcasters.

So, what is Corsi?

Corsi is an advanced NHL stat that tracks shots on goal, blocked shots and shots that miss the net when playing 5-on-5 (shot attempts). This stat is used to assess team and player performance.

This stat can be utilized to approximate puck possession in the offensive zone.

While once one of the most popular advanced NHL statistics, Corsi isn’t as widely used anymore by handicappers because it has a relatively poor correlation to winning hockey games.

Corsi is also tracked when a team is winning, tied, losing or in close games (score is within one goal in the 1st/2nd periods or tied in the third period), which allows bettors to filter the data even further.

Common NHL Corsi statistics:

CF (Corsi For): Shot attempts made.

CA (Corsi Against): Shot attempts allowed.

CFR% (Corsi For Percentage): Ratio of CF and CA – Formula: CF / (CF + CA).

Rel CF% (Relative Corsi For %): Compares teammates’ Corsi % (CF% on ice – CF% off ice).

Fenwick – Unblocked Shot Attempts (USAT)

This metric is nearly identical to Corsi, but differs slightly.

Fenwick, officially known as “unblocked shot attempts (USAT)”, is the same as Corsi, but it doesn’t track blocked shots. Fenwick tracks shots on goal and shots that miss the net only.

Corsi is often a better NHL metric to use, but Fenwick still has its benefits.

Fenwick percentages should be compared to a team’s Corsi percentage, especially when a team blocks a lot of shots. Fenwick is also popular because it’s used for expected goals models.

Here’s an adjusted Fenwick metric:

DFF% (Dangerous Fenwick For %): Assigns a “danger” value to normal Fenwick.

DFF% analyzes the shot location, distance and type of shot to generate a “danger” rating. The DFF% formula is DFF / (DFF + DFA). This stat gives a better overall picture on scoring chances.

NHL Statistics: Expected Goals (xG)

Expected Goals or xG is a model that’s becoming as popular as Corsi.

Why? Well, one of the problems with Corsi is that the metric doesn’t account for shot quality. A team could conceivably have a great Corsi percentage while losing games and money for bettors.

This model utilizes Fenwick (unblocked shot attempts), but goes further by weighting the shots.

Several ranking factors are used with the main one being shot location.

Essentially, what NHL handicappers need to know, though, is that the Expected Goals model weighs the quality shots, which is important, as we all know all shots aren’t equal.

A player on a breakaway has a better chance to score than a shot from the blue line.


PDO is an NHL metric that’s tracked at the team or individual player level.

This advanced hockey statistic calculates the sum of a team’s shooting and save percentages.

For example, if a team has a save percentage of 91.9% and a shooting percentage of 9.2% – the team would have a PDO of 101.1. It’s assumed that the majority of teams will regress to a PDO of 100, so if a team is above that number they’re typically considered lucky, while a team below 100 is unlucky.

PDO helps distinguish the luck factor in hockey and is a great metric for handicappers.

What commonly happens when an NHL team is playing well and winning? The public starts to bet them, which opens up value on the opposing teams. By analyzing the PDO statistic, you’ll have an opportunity to identify teams that are likely due for positive or negative regression and would make great NHL moneyline bets.

Per 60 Minutes (Goals, Assists or Points)

NHL players all play a different amount of ice time every game. The players on the top line get the most ice time, while the players on the fourth line will play a lot less.

To standardize player statistics, NHL fans use per 60 minute rate statistics. This NHL stat tracks how many goals, assists and points a player produces every 60 minutes on the ice.

Per 60 stats are commonly used by fantasy hockey players. It can help with NHL prop bets, though. For instance, let’s say a team has an injury on the first line and the team decides to give an opportunity to a bottom-six forward.

If the player has a high goal, assist and/or point rate per 60 minutes, he could make for a great NHL live betting prop bet, as he’s going to receive a lot more ice time playing on the first line.

NHL Zone Starts

The Zone Starts statistic isn’t as commonly used anymore. The reason is because the data shows that more than 50% of line changes are performed on-the-fly, making this hockey stat less useful.

What is Zone Starts? It’s an NHL statistic that tracks how often a player starts a shift in the offensive zone after a whistle. This is another stat useful for NHL player props, as a player starting a larger percentage of his shifts in the offensive zone should translate to more scoring.

Learning How to Use NHL Statistics for Betting

Hockey analytics are becoming more mainstream among fans and bettors.

The amount of NHL statistics, data and analytics at our disposal is growing, but still lagging behind other sports like the MLB and NBA. However, we’ve seen a shift towards more statistical tracking.

If you would like us to explain any advanced NHL statistic not on this page, let us know. 

We’re working around the clock to build the most profitable sports betting service in the world and we want to help our members become the best NHL handicappers.

NHL Consensus Data – Public Betting Percentages

We track NHL betting consensus data here at GameAdvisers.

What exactly is the NHL consensus? Well, it’s the percentage of bets placed on each team.

For instance, if the Leafs are playing the Flyers and the NHL consensus percentages are showing the Leafs at 30% and the Flyers at 70%, it means 70% of the total number of bets are on Philly.

Keep in mind, the NHL consensus isn’t based on the amount wagered, just the number of bets.

So, an NHL team could have 65% of the bets being placed on them, but if those bets are mainly coming from the public, it’s possible more money has been wagered on the opposing team.

Hockey Concussion Stats

Concussions are one of the most common injuries for hockey players. There isn’t a lot of data for hockey concussion stats, but several studies have estimated that 2-14% of all hockey injuries and 15-30% of all head injuries in hockey are concussions, which is a staggering amount.

Hockey concussion stats are hard to come by, but we have dug up some data.

Firstly, we want to note that concussions in hockey are a serious problem. In fact the NHL/NHLPA launched a Concussion Program back in 1997, which has seemed to help out a lot.

There are now stricter protocols for returning to play.

Between the 1996-97 and 2001-02 NHL seasons, there was a mean of 56 concussions every season. In more recent studies, the data has shown that concussions are no longer as big of a problem.