NHL Odds and Betting | How to Bet on Ice Hockey

NHL Odds & Betting

Complete NHL Odds and Betting Guide

The National Hockey League, known as the NHL, is the world’s most popular professional ice hockey league. It takes place in North America and includes 25 teams from the USA and seven from Canada.

Today, it’s one of the wealthiest sports leagues in the world by revenue. And like most sports that draw in big money, it has a solid betting culture. This piece will tell you all you need to know about NHL odds and betting and the types of NHL betting markets.

Columbus Blue Jackets' Boone Jenner celebrates goal against the Flyers

NHL Betting Odds

The betting odds for NHL games are the same that you might have seen elsewhere. Odds are represented as whole numbers (American format), decimals, or fractions. They are all interchangeable, so don’t panic if you see different formats; you can simply switch to the one you’re most comfortable with.

American odds

These are the most common format in the United States. These odds consist of positive or negative numbers, depending on which team is the favorite and which is the underdog. 

Underdogs will have positive number odds - longer odds, in betting parlance - and favorites have negative or shorter odds.

Negative numbers represent how many dollars you’d have to place to win a $100 reward, and positive numbers show how much you would win if you placed a $100 bet.

For instance, if the Colorado Avalanche are -300 to win the Stanley Cup finals, and the Tampa Bay Lightning are +120, then a successful bet of $300 on Colorado would pay you $100 in winnings. A successful bet of $100 on Tampa Bay would win you $120. Of course, you don’t have to bet that much money as a beginner and will still be paid in the same proportions no matter what your wager amount is.

Decimal odds

Some find decimal odds easier to read. Odds of -300 on Colorado and +120 on Tampa Bay would be represented as 1.33 and 2.2, respectively. You simply multiply the amount you are betting by the decimal odds to arrive at the total return, including your initial stake. 

So, a successful $300 bet on Colorado would return 300 x 1.33 = $399.99.

Fractional odds

These odds indicate how much money you would win as a proportion of your bet. A +120 bet on Tampa Bay would be represented as 6/5 in this format, which would mean that for every $5 you bet, a successful bet would pay $6 in reward; a $10 bet would pay $12, or a $100 bet would pay $120, and so on. The broad rule is that the denominator represents your stake, and the numerator represents your reward. 

What do the NHL Odds Mean?

For the most part, they’re an indication of sentiment that the sportsbooks calculate based on a variety of factors, including form and injuries. Based on such data, the odds are released, which directly correlate to the implied probability of an event occurring. You can find an implied probability calculator online, key in the odds you’ve seen, and see what the sportsbooks think the implied probabilities (as a percentage) of events occurring are. 

Odds of -300 translate to an implied probability of 75% of an event occurring. This might help contextualize what we said earlier about favorites’ odds being negative. The more negative the odds, the higher the implied probability. Odds of +200 translate to an implied probability of 33.33%.

You can find these figures in the various implied odds calculators available online - the formula remains the same. 

For example - if the Colombus Blue Jackets had odds of -300 to win the Stanley Cup, that would mean that the bookmakers think there is an implied probability of 75% of them going on to win, based on data and public sentiment. It does not mean that the bookmaker is saying that the Blue Jackets are guaranteed a 75% chance of winning - that part would still be up to you to figure out. It wouldn’t be too much fun otherwise, would it?

Types of NHL Odds and Betting

Alright, you’ve understood how odds work and what they represent. That is a very important step before you use the power of your knowledge and familiarity with the sport to win some money. Here are some NHL bets you can place to do exactly that.

Moneyline bets

The most straightforward and easy way to bet on the NHL is to simply pick the winner of a match through a moneyline bet. To re-introduce an example from earlier, if Colorado Avalanche (-300) were playing Tampa Bay Lightning (+120), you would have to wager $300 on them to win $100, or a total payout of $400 including your stake. If you put that same amount on Tampa Bay and they end up winning, your reward would be $360, or a total payout of $660, including your original stake.

Puck line bets

You might have come across this kind of betting in other sports, in the form of spread betting or handicap betting. In baseball, it’s run line, but puck line as a phrase for this type of betting is unique to hockey. Essentially, the moneyline odds are evened out by bookmakers by adding a spread to the final score of a match. 

In NHL odds and betting, the puck-line favorite in a 2-way puck line is denoted with a (-1.5) and an underdog by (+1.5). The principle is pretty simple, 1.5 goals are either added or subtracted to the score of the team you choose, and they need to come out as winners when this addition or subtraction is done. In a 3-way puck line bet, the tie is an additional result that can be achieved and bet on. This decimal figure spread can be more than 1.5 with some bookmakers, but that is rare. 

Example of a 2-way puck line bet

Consider that the Montreal Canadiens are playing against the Columbus Blue Jackets.


Moneyline odds

Puck line odds

Montreal Canadiens 


+1.5 (+125)

Blue Jackets 


-1.5 (+187)

If you put $100 on the Blue Jackets in this market, they must win the game by two or more goals for you to win a reward of $187. This reward would’ve been far less on the regular moneyline market since they are overwhelming favorites. So, the puck line allowed you a bigger risk and reward on the dominant team.

If you were to put $100 on the Canadiens, you are rewarded $125 if they get any result better than a one-goal loss (including a win by any margin). In this instance, the puck line reduces your risk in backing the underdog compared to the moneyline odds; therefore, the payoff gets lower as well.

Over/under bets

The over/under hockey odds are another staple in the world of NHL betting. You are generally given a number in decimal form by the bookmaker, and you must bet on whether the total number of goals in the match - inclusive of both teams’ scores - will exceed that number or fall below it. 

So, if you’ve bet on there being over 4.5 goals, then you will need the game to have a minimum of five goals in it to win the bet. Whether the scoreline is 5-0, 3-2, 2-3, or 1-4 does not matter; only the aggregate number of goals scored is important.

NHL prop bets

Prop bets focus on isolated parts of a matchup that do not necessarily impact the match’s final result. For instance, you can bet on a player prop that might be focused on who scores the first goal, the last, or if a player will score any time during the game. None of those events directly affect the result of a match, so why not cash in if an underdog player is in the form of his life, even if his team may not end up winning?

NHL parlays

One opportunity that pops up when betting on a tournament where each team plays 82 times is to bet on multiple match results simultaneously.

Say that you believe that the Carolina Hurricanes (-300), the Florida Panthers (-160), and the New York Rangers (-400) are all going to win their respective games. From the odds, you can see that they’re all favorites (the negative odds tell you that). Betting on each of them individually might not, therefore, result in big returns and would require a larger stake amount as well.

Instead, you can use a parlay bet, which is a type of bet where you have multiple ‘legs’ that have to all win for you to win the bet. Only if the Panthers, the Rangers, and Hurricanes ALL won their games would you make a profit. So, if the Rangers and Panthers win but the Hurricanes concede a last-minute goal to tie, your bet is lost.

The odds of such a win are calculated by converting each leg into the decimal format, and multiplying the value of each individual leg. In this case, it would look like this:

Teams to win

American odds

Decimal odds










Parlay odds calculation

2 x 1.63 x 1.5 = 4.89Remember that multiplying the stake and the odds with decimal odds gives you the full payout. So, if you placed $100 on this parlay, your total payout would be $489, or the total profit would be $389 if all three teams won.

Don’t worry about working out all these numbers – all sportsbooks will automatically display the odds and your potential payout on your bet slip.

NHL outrights and futures

Follow the names on this one, and you’ve already understood the game. The NHL outrights and futures markets let you predict who will go on to win the Stanley Cup, the total number of games a team will win, the player who will score the most goals, and even which teams players will get traded to

These markets open up in the pre-season and run throughout the course of the season with changing odds; make sure you change your strategies to keep up.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is betting on The NHL profitable?

As with any form of gambling, NHL odds and betting requires thorough research, discipline, and diversification to become a profitable endeavor over the course of a season. 

What format are NHL odds presented in?

You will most likely come across odds in the American format by default while betting from the United States. But your sportsbook will allow you to toggle the odds formats from within their interface to include decimal or fractional odds.

What is +1.5 in NHL betting?

The +1.5 or -1.5 symbols in NHL betting are representative of the puck line bet format and practically represent either the addition or subtraction of 1.5 goals from the score line of the team you’ve backed. You have made a successful puck line bet if your team is still ahead after this addition or subtraction.

Is it legal to bet on NHL games?

Yes, a growing number of states in the US now have legalized online sports betting. Ohio is one of those progressive states, meaning you can place bets on your favorite NHL teams, including the Columbus Blue Jackets.

What is over/under NHL betting?

With this type of bet, the sportsbook sets odds for the total number of goals in a matchup. If the line is 4.5, you must bet on whether you think there will be five or more goals or four goals or fewer. It doesn’t matter which team scores them; it’s the total that counts.