NHL Betting Guide: moneyline, totals & Parlays
Ever wanted to bet on the NHL, but not sure where to start? Whether you’re a season betting veteran looking to move into the sport of hockey or curious about your first-ever pick ‘ems for a parlay challenge, this guide will have everything you need to know about betting on the NHL.
What to Know About the NHL
Betting on the NHL can be fun and exciting, but can be difficult to jump into for someone who hasn’t really ever paid attention to the league. It’s a fast-paced game with tons of different variables and skill levels- it can take a while to get used to. Luckily, this guide has a brief breakdown of the basics to know when looking to bet on NHL games.
Unlike other popular betting sports like football or basketball, there’s one key rule to remember: Any team can beat any team on any night. There is much more parity in the NHL compared to other sports; combine this with an 82 game long season, and betting in the NHL can be extremely fun and unpredictable.
A team that’s top-ranked in the conference could fall short against a bottom feeder in the division- in fact, this happens more often than you might think. After all, the NHL is the most difficult hockey league in the world to play in, and even players on the worst teams are capable of scoring goals on any given night.
Goalies Can Make a Difference
But why is the NHL set apart from other leagues in this way? There are a few reasons. For starters, goalies can have nights where they play significantly above their skill level, or completely blow up and let in an atrocious amount of goals on an off night. A hot (or cold) goalie can completely dictate the outcome of the game, regardless of how well or poorly the forwards are playing. When making bets in the NHL, remembering this about goalies should always be taken into consideration. How consistent is this goalie? Do they have a history of off-nights? Is the goalie on an unprecedented hot streak? Etc.
Watch Out For Injuries
Another factor is injury. In a high contact sport like the NFL, teams can look completely different week after week as players are injured. In a similar vein, the NHL also has significant amounts of injuries every year that can change the outlook of certain teams; the main difference, of course, is that teams are playing 82 games instead of 17. It’s a high-speed, high-contact sport that can sometimes have a schedule that plays one team 4 times a week. This sort of thing can wear teams down, and even the best team in the league might have trouble keeping pace in the latter half of a back-to-back.
Some Things Can’t be Predicted
Another factor (and the one that makes the NHL the most fun) is, put simply, puck luck. Because hockey games are played on the ice, random bounces and deflections can change a team’s fortune on a whim. Puck luck is completely unpredictable and is something that should keep all NHL betters on their toes- one team could get the perfect bounce right in front of the net for a game-tying goal, another could be stuck with a weird bounce that just misses the shooter’s stick on an empty net.
Of course, with all this talk of parity and puck luck, it’s also important to remember that a good player will be good. The superstars of the NHL will be fairly consistent with production and scoring, regardless of overall team performance or luck. Make sure you check the rosters of each team on the night of the game you are betting on to make sure these kinds of players are in (including goalies!).
Here are some other things to know about the NHL that might influence your betting. All teams in the NHL have 12 forwards, 6 defensemen, and a goalie rostered every night. Teams roll out 3 forwards and 2 defensemen at a time, taking shifts that last anywhere from 30-1:00 shifts at a time; when all of these players are out, it’s known as 5 on 5. Because this is how the majority of games are played, a team’s 5 on 5 scoring ability is an important stat to check before making a bet. If a team has a high 5 on 5 scoring rate, they will be much more likely to put up consistent scoring on a nightly basis. When a team commits a penalty, however, the special teams come out on a power play.
Penalties are generally 2:00 long (or more if the penalty is more severe), and result in the offending player to sit in the penalty box for the duration of the power play, while the other team keeps all 5 players on the ice. Since this is dependent on penalties being called during the game, it’s impossible to tell how many power plays a team might get on a given night. However, a team with a good power play will be much more likely to run up the score- it’s a good idea to check a team’s power-play percentage before making a bet. A team with anything below 20% is likely going to have some problems scoring, while a team with 25-30%+ is likely going to score on the man advantage.
If a team has a poor penalty kill, they’re more likely to give up goals while short-handed. So, for example, if the Tampa Bay Lightning have a power-play percentage of 31% and are going against the Ottawa Senators with a penalty kill of 65%, there’s a very high chance that Tampa Bay will score a power-play goal that night. Conversely, if Tampa Bay plays against the Minnesota Wild with a 92% penalty kill, they might have a much harder time finding the net with an extra attacker and scoring might be a bit lower than usual.
Checking a team’s 5 on 5 and special NHL teams stat before placing a bet can help you with making the right decision before putting your money down. Sometimes, teams can have a terrible record and 5 on 5, but an incredible powerplay! These stats can be important to look for, especially for bets that focus primarily on the total amounts of goals scored.
Of course, make sure to also check overall standings on the season; while parity is still a major part of the NHL, you’re not going to want to consistently be betting on a perennial bottom feeder all season long.
Basic NHL Betting
Moneyline NHL Betting
There are numerous ways to get started on betting in the NHL. The easiest and most common type of NHL betting is the moneyline- who’s going to win the game? The moneyline in the NHL works similar to how it would elsewhere; for example, if the Minnesota Wild are favored at -120 against the Chicago Blackhawks at +150, you would need to put down $120 in order to win $100. Conversely, you would win $150 if you bet $100 on the Hawks. This way is a quick, simple, and fun way to ease into NHL betting, focusing on one game at a time and looking just for the end result of a win.
NHL Puck Line Betting
Another popular type of NHL betting is the puck line. Whereas the moneyline focuses on the winner or loser of the game, the puck line focuses on the spread of total goals scored. So, using our example from above, if the Wild are favored at a -1.5 with odds of -120 and the Hawks at +1.5 with odds at -120, then a bet on the Wild would mean the better is confident the Wild will win by a score of 1.5 goals or higher.
If Chicago loses the game 4-3, they would still hin the puck line because the goal differential was under 1.5. Again, a bet of -120 would win you $100 in this instance. If you are fairly confident a team might get blown out or think an underdog has a good shot at pulling off an upset, the puckline is a great bet to use! Just be weary of those empty net goals at the end of the game.
Another popular type of NHL betting is guessing the totals of a game. Totals generally range from 5-6.5 and represent the total amount of goals scored combined between the two teams. Determining the over/under of total goal scoring is where the jackpot will come here- these types of bets can be really exciting when 2 offensively talented teams collide. Scoring in the NHL can vary, but the most common score is generally 3-2, occurring roughly 10% of the time in recent years.
This would be one of those instances where checking out a team’s special teams percentage would help significantly in determining the totals! One thing to note- if the over/under on total goals scored in the game is an even number, let’s say, 5, and the final score is the exact same (let’s say by a score of 3-2), no payout is given and the bet will be returned.
NHL Parlay Betting
The parlay is another popular method of betting in the NHL and can be pretty rewarding. A parlay bet requires the player to pick the correct winners of every game in a given night- because the NHL has a tendency to load games on specific days (especially Saturdays), the parlay can be a bit trickier to get right than other bets. However, if you’re feeling especially lucky or feeling good about a given night, there are few things more satisfying than correctly picking the correct winner for every single game- not to mention a higher payout.
If betting on the outcome of a game isn’t quite what you’re looking for, prop bets in the NHL might be more your speed. Prop bets are… well, pretty much anything you can think of! A prop bet is simply a bet on something that doesn’t necessarily affect the outcome of a game- so, perhaps you think Connor McDavid will have a multi-point night (or get no points at all!). Or, perhaps you think a goalie might have a save percentage above or below a specific value. Whatever you can think of, there’s likely a prop bet for it! Other prop bet ideas include:
-Who will score the first goal?
-Who is going to score a goal at any point in the game?
-Who will score an assist?
-Who will score on the powerplay?
-What is the over/under on how many shots a certain player will have?
-What is the over/under on how many blocks a certain player will have?
These are just a few examples, but you get the idea. Prop bets are a lot of fun and can be a bit more low-pressure than the other betting examples listed above. Most betting sites have new prop bets available every day, so be sure to check those out before puck drop!
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NHL Betting Guide FAQs
Betting laws vary from state to state, so be sure to check out your local laws. Most NHL betting can be arranged via online betting sites or through a bookie.
Yes! Signing up for a betting site makes placing your bets extremely easy. On most sites, you’ll have the option to simply click on your bet and submit it.
Most states require the person placing the bet to be over the age of 21
Upsets happen all the time in the NHL’s 82 game long season- which is half of the fun! Make sure to stay up to date on any lower-ranked teams that are starting to string some wins together- it might be a good way to cash out on an easy bet.