The NHL has the smallest following of the four major sports in the United States, but it still has a very passionate following among those that do enjoy the sport. Hockey is the most popular sport in Canada and seven of the NHL’s 31 teams are located in the country. Due to the fact that hockey is less popular overall than the other major sports, astute bettors can often find better value in NHL betting lines than they can across the other sports.
The most common method of betting on hockey games are bets on the moneyline. A moneyline wager is a bet on which team will win the game outright; this includes overtime or a shootout, if necessary.
Because teams have differing skill levels and other factors make one team more likely to win than the other such as home ice advantage, which goaltenders are starting in goal and current form, most games have a betting favorite and an underdog. For example, if the Detroit Red Wings are on the road against the Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago will likely be a favorite to win.
This game might be listed as Detroit (2.80) vs. Chicago (1.50). In this instance, bettors will have to pay a premium to bet on the superior team in Chicago, while bettors willing to take a chance on Detroit will be offered a more handsome payout.
In the event of an even matchup in which neither team is the favorite, both sides would be listed at 1.91.
Due to the low-scoring nature of hockey, every game is given the same point spread of -1.5 goals to the favorite and +1.5 goals to the underdog. This spread is known as the puckline.
Betting on games on the puckline gives bettors the chance to wager on favorites with much better payouts than betting on the moneyline provides. On the other hand, underdogs that make for risky bets on the moneyline might be more intriguing with a +1.5 spread turning one-goal losses into wins.
Looking at the Detroit at Chicago example from above, on the puckline this game might be listed as Detroit +1.5 (1.80) vs. Chicago -1.5 (2.05). Puckline odds vary greatly from game to game, as teams that are evenly matched or expected to play a low-scoring game will turn moneyline favorites into big underdogs while big moneyline favorites that play a high-scoring style will pay far less at -1.5.
To cover the -1.5 goal spread, the favorite must win by at least two goals. Given that teams that trail by a goal late in a game tend to pull their goalie in the NHL, favorites usually have the chance to score on the empty net to extend their lead to two goals. Any game that goes to overtime will be graded as a win for the +1.5 on the puckline.
A bet on the “total” in the NHL is a bet on whether or not the total number of goals scored in a game will go OVER or UNDER a posted total for a specific game. The total refers to the total number of goals scored in a game. If the St. Louis Blues defeat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1, the total for this game is three goals (2 + 1 = 3). If Los Angeles picks up a 5-2 win, the total is seven goals (5 + 2 = 7).
NHL totals are fairly uniform in that just about every team in the league averages somewhere between two to 3.5 goals per game. As a result, virtually every game has a total set between 5.0 goals to 6.5 goals. A game between two defensive-minded teams like Los Angeles at St. Louis would likely have a total set at five goals, while two offensive-minded teams like Pittsburgh at Philadelphia could be set at 6.5.
If you were to bet on Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to go OVER 6.5 goals, you would need seven goals to be scored in total to win. A game with six goals or less would pay out on the UNDER.
In the event that a game goes to overtime, the game-deciding goal in overtime or the goal awarded to the team that wins a shootout counts towards the total. So a bet on the UNDER 5 goals that ends regulation at 2-2 will eventually have a 3-2 winner and be graded as a push.
NHL future bets are generally bets on events that will happen over the course of the entire season. For example, bettors can bet on which team will win the Stanley Cup, or which team will win the Eastern Conference or Western Conference. Odds on these events change throughout the year based on how teams are playing.
Towards the end of the season, bettors can also bet on individual player award futures. These include the Art Ross Trophy for the player who finishes with the most points, the Calder Memorial Trophy for rookie of the year and the Vezina Trophy for best goaltender just to name a few.
Prop bets are bets on elements inside of games. For example, a Toronto Maple Leafs bettor could bet on an in-game prop such as whether or not John Tavares will score a goal or which team will score the first goal of the game. There are many different types of game and season-long props available.
Betting on an NHL parlay is combining multiple sides and totals into one wager. Each of these sides and totals is called a “leg” in the parlay, and every leg of the parlay must win in order for the parlay to be a successful wager. The higher the number of teams selected, the higher the payouts will be if the parlay hits.
For example, a two-team parlay of Montreal (1.71) and Ottawa (2.10) would pay 3.60 if both teams were to win. But adding in a couple more teams in Anaheim (1.63) and Boston (1.83) would produce a four-team parlay that would pay 10.725 if all four games were won.