How to Bet on NHL | Your Guide to Ice Hockey Betting

How to Bet on NHL

betJACK Training Camp
2 years ago
5 min read
Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Johnny Gaudreau warms up ahead of game against Pittsburgh Penguins

Basics of How to Bet on NHL Games

Moneyline Bets

The most popular and straightforward bet on an ice hockey matchup is to pick the team you think will win. This type of bet is available under many intuitive names (match result bet, for instance), but the technical term is moneyline bet.

A sportsbook gives each team odds to win, with the favorite getting shorter odds than the underdog. Let’s look at this example.

Columbus Blue Jackets (-150) vs. New Jersey Devils (+120)

The favorites have negative odds, so the Blue Jackets are expected to win in this case. A negative number in odds is the amount you must bet to win $100. So, you must bet $150 on the Blue Jackets to win for a profit of $100 if they do so.

On the other hand, the Devils are underdogs, as shown by the positive odds. The number in positive odds is the amount you profit if you bet $100. In this case, backing the Devils with a $100 wager will net you a $120 profit.

You don’t have to bet $100, of course. You can bet any amount and win the proportional profit.

Puck line bets

These are hockey’s version of betting the spread. These bets are created as counterbalances to moneyline odds by sportsbooks, where one team is an overwhelming favorite. Adding a margin of victory to the favorites creates a situation where the two teams are more evenly matched in the market. Victory or defeat isn’t as important as the difference between their final scores in a match.

Hockey is a low-scoring sport compared to most, and the puck-line odds are generally presented as plus or minus 1.5; the favorites to win have (-1.5) on their tables, while the underdogs have (+1.5) on theirs.

The logic of these numbers is simple: 1.5 goals are either added to or subtracted from the final score of the team you’re betting on, and the result must go in your selected team’s favor for you to win the bet

This is known as a two-way puck line bet. So, if you put money on the Blue Jackets (-1.5) beating the Philadelphia Flyers (+1.5), they must win by two goals or more for you to win the bet.

On the flip side, the Flyers would only need to limit the damage to one goal for you to win a bet on them. If they lost by a single goal or even won the game, your bet on them would be successful.

Over/Under bets

When you’re learning how to bet on the NHL, a key market is the over/under market. The over/under is your forecast of how many goals are likely to be scored in a game in total.

It doesn’t matter who wins or by what margin; the total number of goals counts. If the sportsbook sets the line at 3.5, you must decide whether there will be more or fewer goals.

If you think the Blue Jackets vs. Flyers game is going to be a high scoring one, you can wager that there will be over 3.5 goals in the game. If you reckon it will be an attritional battle and a game dominated by strong defensive plays, then you go the other way and back the under 3.5 goals market. The higher this totals number, the bigger your returns generally get for an over bet. 

NHL Prop Bets

Prop bets are built for granular bets that don’t necessarily impact the final outcome of the matchup. There are broadly three types of prop bets (short for proposition bets) on the NHL: player props, team props, and game props. 

Player props

  • Any time goalscorer (a player to score any time)
  • First goalscorer (the specific player who will score the first goal)
  • Shots on goal (the number of shots someone will take, generally an over/under market)
  • Number of assists
  • Distance traveled by a player

Team props

  • Goals scored (commonly an over/under market)
  • Shots on goal (by the whole team, as opposed to the player prop market)
  • Period in which a team will score

Game props

  • Team to score first
  • Both teams to score (this is a yes or no proposition)
  • Will the game end in regulation time?
  • To win in regulation (pick a team that will win in regulation time)

NHL Parlays

You don’t have to place one single bet at a time. When it comes to how to bet on the NHL, you can add several bets to the same betting slip. This is an ideal way to increase your returns.

For example, on game day, you might fancy the Colorado Avalanche (-110), the Toronto Maple Leafs (-160), and the Columbus Blue Jackets (-200) to win their matches. Since all are strong favorites, betting $100 on each moneyline would not bring huge returns. Instead, you can place a parlay whereby a single bet wraps up all three results.

The odds are significantly higher because all three teams must win. In this case, a $100 bet pays out $365.34. But remember, if the Avalanche and Leafs both win and the Blue Jackets lose in the last few seconds, your bet is lost.

NHL Outrights And Futures

As the name suggests, this market deals with events that will occur in an NHL season’s near or distant future.

Of course, the most distant NHL event that can occur is the prize ceremony after a Stanley Cup final. Who is going to lift the trophy? You can bet on that from as early as pre-season

You can also bet on regional winners, the total number of games a team might win, and whether or not a team will make the playoffs. There are also futures bets on individual awards like MVP, top scorer, or the best coach.

Tips on How to Bet on the NHL

You are now familiar with the different markets you’ll see when figuring out how to bet on the NHL. Here are some strategic tips to keep in mind before the season begins:

Pick your value markets early on in a season and invest time in playing those markets. If your strength lies in analyzing tactical formations and movement, the prop market and in-play betting might be more suited to you than the futures market. Value is everything in betting; you must give yourself the best chance over a long period.

Fitness, injuries, and the schedule are major factors in a long season like the NHL, and a packed schedule is unlikely to offer too much recovery time between games in such a physical league. Be careful about backing the same players over and over again - very few will be at their peaks in every game they play.

Get your stats from the right sources and learn how to contextualize them. For instance, how many goals a goalie lets in on average isn’t a fair reflection of how good or bad he is but is more a commentary on the team’s defensive set-up; the next opponent could well break that defensive line apart. Observe your metrics closely and ensure you aren’t making ambitious prop bets based on over-simplistic statistics.

Use the two-way puck line market when a big team is playing a heavy underdog. There is rarely any value in the moneyline odds market for such a game, and the biggest risk you’ll be taking is the off-chance that there will be an upset. It is unlikely that a top team faces multiple upsets over a season, so back your instinct on the favorites winning by a decent margin

Ready to Bet on the NHL?

You should now be familiar with betting odds and how to bet on NHL games. Be sure to bet within your means and try to build your bankroll slowly and sensibly. That way, if you were to encounter a losing run, your betting account would not run dry!

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