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NHL Betting 101: How to Bet On Hockey

NHL Betting 101: How to Bet On Hockey

Professional hockey continues to lag behind the other three major professional leagues in American sports, but when it comes to sports betting, the NHL provides some of the best entertainment when you peel back the various layers of everything you can bet on within this sport.

NHL betting is widely seen by sharp bettors or experts within this sport as the sport with the most value when it comes to wagering.  Many sharp bettors believe that NHL odds tend to be much more favorable for bettors because there is less action on the games, thus there is less importance in making sure every hockey line is razor-sharp.

NHL betting is no different than wagering on any of the major sports.  However, with NHL betting moneyline wagering is generally the common means to wager on hockey, as opposed to football and basketball when you are dealing with point spreads much more often.

NHL Moneyline Wagering

The most popular form of NHL betting is simply picking the team you believe will win the game.  Moneyline wagering is the preferred betting method of course in the NHL, and this is as straightforward as it can be.

Just like moneyline wagering with any other sport, a favorite and an underdog are designated in any given matchup, and more often than not, the favorite will require betting with juice and the underdog will payout as plus-money should you win.

Here’s an example of what a standard NHL moneyline bet would look like:

Avalanche (-150)
Sharks (+140)

If you believed the Sharks would win, you would win $140 on a $100 bet.  If you believed the favored Avalanche would win, you would need to risk $150 to win $100.

NHL Puck Line Wagering (Canadian Line Wagering)

If you’re familiar with MLB betting, NHL betting is very similar in this regard.  Just like MLB betting, the standard “spread” is 1.5, and just like MLB betting when betting on the run line, you typically have larger payouts if you are able to win a “Puck Line” bet.

The “Puck Line” is a spread bet created entirely for betting on hockey, hence the term ‘Puck Line’.

Hockey games are considered in sports betting to be a low-scoring affair.  In the same manner as baseball and soccer, hockey games come with their specialized point spread simply named the “Puck” Line.  The Puck Line is a combination of your standard point spread bet and a moneyline wager.

The spread in hockey games is almost always 1.5 goals (-1.5 for favorites, +1.5 for underdogs) unless betting on the game live, and the odds are then applied to determine the payout.

In hockey, like baseball, it’s usually easier to cover a two-goal spread than it is to win by two or more and accordingly you will find that there is more juice when taking a team to cover the Puck Line.

Additionally, you will also find that when betting on a favorite to win by two goals or more that this bet almost always carries with it plus money.

An example of this would look like so:

Coyotes +1.5 (-160)
Golden Knights -1.5 (+150)

If you believe the Vegas Golden Knights will win this game by two goals or more and you wagered $100, you would win $150 if that proved to be correct. If you believed the Arizona Coyotes would win straight up or lose by just one goal, you would need to wager $160 to win $100.

If you understand the sport of hockey, then you can see how 1.5 goals is a good median number for the sport.  Garbage time goals against a pulled goalie are very common, as are power-play goals once a game seems out of reach.

The saying that “no two-goal lead in hockey is safe” exists for a reason.  Keep this in the back of your mind when wagering on the Puck Line.

NHL First Period Over/Under Betting

There may not be a more entertaining bet in professional sports right now than betting on the total of the first period of a hockey game.

With the many rule changes to the sport introduced several years ago, the sport of hockey became a much more free-flowing, wide-open type of sport.  As a result, scoring in the NHL has never been higher and bettors have caught on with the art of betting on the total goals scored in the first period.

In an NHL hockey game, the average amount of goals scored in a given game comes out to roughly six goals per contest.  Because of this and the wonders of modern math, most period totals are set at 1.5 goals with some matchups being set at an over/under mark of 2 goals per period.  The latter is rarer and has only recently been rolled out by various sportsbooks when the market began to catch on to the teams that go over the traditional 1.5 goal mark more often than others.

An NHL first period totals bet could look something like this at your favorite online sportsbook:

Penguins/Lightning 1P OVER 1.5 (-170)
Penguins/Lightning 1P UNDER 1.5 (+120)

If you believed the Penguins and Lightning would combine for 2 goals or more, you would wager $170 to win $100.  If you believed this matchup would have a slow start with a goal or less scored in the first, you would wager $100 to win $120.

NHL First Period betting is very basic and simple to understand.  Essentially all you are doing is betting on two teams to either combine for 2 goals or more, or go under 2 goals in the first period.

Since teams prefer to start quickly in hockey, you will find the speed of the game and the intensity of the action to be nonstop for the duration of that entire period.

Mix in some timely wagering and you have yourself a fun evening.

NHL Over/Under Betting

Betting on hockey totals doesn’t just end with betting on individual periods, you can also bet on the total goals scored over the duration of the entire game.

As mentioned above, the average amount of goals scored in a regular-season NHL hockey game is roughly six.  This breaks down to two goals per period.  If you’re not fully comfortable betting on a singular 20-minute period, betting on the combined total for a full game may be what you’re looking for.

Totals bets in the NHL are a bet regarding the total number of combined goals scored in a regular-season hockey game.

In other sports, the total in the game fluctuates based on the matchups and the distribution of bets/money on that particular game.  This is not the case in hockey, as the game total is almost always set at 5.5, with 6 goals set as the total in rare occurrences (namely when two high scoring hockey teams square off).

However, unlike other sports where the payout odds remain the same even if the lines adjust, in hockey it is the opposite.

The lines do not adjust, but the payout odds will.  Again, you typically see this when two high-scoring teams are playing against one another.

An example of a matchup you may find at your sportsbook may look like this:

Ducks/Kings OVER 5.5 (-130)
Ducks/Kings UNDER 5.5 (+110)

In this instance, if you believed the total goals scored would be six or more, you would take the over.  If you believed it would be 5 goals or less, you would take the under.


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