Betting on the National Hockey League
The NHL is a fun and exciting sport that offers lots of on-ice action to follow. Sports books have also followed suit and are happy to provide bettors a way to play their systems and hunches by listing different lines for each game played. Follow your favorite team(s) all the way to the Stanley Cup and try to make some money along the way! Before reading more about betting on the NHL let’s take a look at the most user friendly Hockey betting sites listed below.
Top 5 NHL Sportsbooks
Types of Lines
There are three main types of lines offered on the NHL. There are moneylines, pucklines, and totals offered for every NHL game. Let’s examine each type of line a bit more in depth now.
Moneylines are simply bets on who will win the game. Of course, not every team is equal, so the bookmakers adjust the lines to reflect this. A common NHL game might have a line listed as
New York Rangers +150
This means that you must risk $170 to win back $100 on Detroit. If you decide to back the Rangers, a $100 bet would win you $150. These bets normally include overtime and, if the game is still tied after overtime, the shootout round.
Pucklines are bets similar to runline bets that are found in MLB baseball betting. The bet is essentially a prop of “will the favored team win by 2 or more goals?” There are appropriate odds attached to the bet to compensate for the fact that even if the favored team does win the game, often NHL games are decided by one goal. Of course, any game that goes into overtime is an automatic win if you have the +1.5 puckline. So in our example above of Detroit vs New York Rangers, with the moneyline the same at -170/+150, we might see a puckline of
Detroit -1.5 (+180)
New York Rangers +1.5 (-200)
This means that you can bet Detroit to win by 2+ goals, and get paid out $180 for every $100 bet. You can also take the Rangers to either win straight up, or lose by exactly one goal, but you must risk $200 for every $100 win.
Totals are bets on the total number of goals by both teams. Normal totals for NHL games range from 5 up to 7, with the most common being 5.5. This reflects the ever changing rules that the NHL has introduced in the last 5-10 years. If you look back to the NHL 25 years ago, totals would have been much higher, and also affected by the fact that there were no shootouts and ties were possible. There is often a large amount of juice on one side or the other when totals are posted. For example, in our Detroit/Rangers example, both teams are high scoring teams but both also have excellent goaltending. A fair total would probably be listed at something similar to
Detroit o5.5 (-120)
New York Rangers u5.5 (+100)
Basically, if there are 6 goals or more in the game, you would win $100 for every $100 risked. If there are 5 goals or less, you win $100 for every $100 wagered. Bookmakers often find that it is easier to attach juice onto a total such as 5.5 to encourage action one way or another, rather than move the total up to 6, because chances are high that the game will either end under 6 or exactly on 6, and then there would be lopsided action on the under. Every half goal is extremely important in the NHL, and the juice certainly reflects this.
Trends and Strategies
As always, the trend is your friend. A very recent trend would be betting on Detroit to win at home. They have recently set the NHL record with 21 straight wins on home ice. This has been an incredible moneymaker if you have backed them from the start.
There are other trends to look for when betting the NHL, some that play out over a few days, while others play out over months or years. The San Jose Sharks have constantly been a disappointment in the playoffs, and betting against them has been a solid cash stream over the years. It has been similar with the Washington Capitals. They have often been the top seed or a very high seed heading into the post season, only to disappoint in the early rounds while being heavily favored. It is a low risk, high reward play to bet against these teams and has paid very well.
The NHL is similar to baseball in that the goalie is a very big part of the game in hockey, while the pitcher has a huge impact on baseball lines. If a goalie is “hot” then the entire team experiences a lift and can ride this to win after win after win. Goalies in the NHL are notorious for streaky play. Backups can come in and lift a team all the way to a deep playoff run where none was ever expected. A great goalie can mask a shoddy defense, while a goalie on a cold run can ruin or waste an explosive offensive output. Nothing deflates a team more than scoring 6 goals and losing 7-6 in overtime due to a soft goal.
To play on this streaky tendency, check recent play for the teams you are considering betting on. If a goalie has shown signs of great play lately, it might be prudent to take a look at the puckline, since great play from a goalie will tend to keep a team within one goal if they aren’t winning the game outright.
Home ice advantage often makes a huge difference in the NHL. Some teams are almost unstoppable at home (see Detroit, 2012), while others hover around .500 both at home and on the road. Bookies are aware of these facts of course, but sometimes heavy public action forces the books to adjust lines beyond their fair value and you can scoop up a team that “no one likes” at a great price. A slight underdog at home is often a good play since home ice advantage can be underestimated by the public at large, who simply sees the record of each team and automatically bets the one with the better record in hopes of an “easy win.”
For totals, you’re really looking at a crapshoot for most games. Sometimes games can end 1-0, and other times games can explode with 14 goals. It really is an almost 50/50 bet on most games, and again recent play is probably your best indicator here. If teams tend to play a lot of overtime games, you might want to find a game where their listed total is an even 5.0, since anytime both teams score 2+ goals, you are guaranteed at least a push.
What to Look for In a Hockey Book
There aren’t very many “hockey specific” books out there since the NHL is one of the smaller major sports in America. However, some books offer better value than others. If you’re looking for quick payouts, or numerous withdrawal options, check out reviews online and find a book that will provide that and stick with them. If you want some different options, you can find books that offer a wide variety of NHL bets. Some common offerings that may differentiate one book from another are game props, team props, futures, live betting, individual period betting, alternate totals and pucklines. Your “best bet” is to peruse a few different books, check out what types of bets they offer, and find one that suits your style of play. One book that offers a bit better value on their odds may not have as much of a selection as another book. Book A might have live betting, while Book B has more props listed. It is simply a matter of preference.
Major Hockey Events
Besides the regular season where many bets take place, we seem to see a spike in the following three games that are played yearly and with the Olympics every 4 years.
- NHL Stanley Cup: This happens after the playoffs in May or June depending on the length of the games. This is the final game between the best two teams in the league.
- NHL All Star Game: Is a mid season recreational game of all the best players in the league.
- Winter Olympics: Every four years all the countries put their best teams out to compete for the gold. This event is so huge that the NHL postpones its games to accommodate players playing for their country.