Out of the four major North American professional sports leagues, the NHL has always found itself on the low-end of the spectrum in terms of popularity in the United States. While it hasn’t been able to surpass the NFL, NBA, and MLB, the NHL offers one of the most exciting and fast-paced live sports products in the world.
Due to the unpredictable nature of the league, the NHL has become a favorite for many sports bettors looking to find an edge for a variety of reasons. Here’s a breakdown of the top five bet types for beginner NHL bettors.
A moneyline wager is the most common bet type for both beginner and seasoned NHL bettors alike. For each game, oddsmakers will tab one team as the favorite and the other as the underdog, depending on which side they think has a better chance of winning. A moneyline bet on either the favorite or the underdog simply means that team has to win the game outright in order for the wager to payout.
For example, let’s say the Tampa Bay Lightning are hosting the Ottawa Senators. Since the Lightning are perennially one of the best teams in the NHL and the Senators have found themselves at the bottom of the Eastern Conference lately, sportsbooks would offer the Lightning as the heavy favorites.
If the Lightning are -200 favorites and the Sens are +180 underdogs, that means a $100 bet on Tampa to win the contest would pay out $50. The same wager on the Senators would give the bettor $180 along with the $100 they initially risked.
The puckline serves as an alternative to the moneyline in ice hockey, similar to the runline in baseball. Sportsbooks will label the puckline as -1.5 for the favorite and +1.5 for the underdog team. In order for the favorite puckline bet to cash, that squad will need to win by at least two goals. For the underdog to hit, they can either win the game or lose by a single goal.
If the Lightning beat the Senators 4-3 and you bet the Lightning moneyline, you’d win money. If you had Tampa Bay on the -1.5 puckline, however, it would be a losing bet.
Since betting heavy favorites on the moneyline can be pricey in terms of limited payouts, many hockey bettors will opt for the puckline instead since the juice is not as high. If you’re looking to back a favorite and believe the game will be a blowout, this is the best course of action.
The over/under, also known as “totals,” is one of the oldest forms of hockey betting. Deciding whether to bet an over or an under in a specific game comes down to whether the bettor thinks the game is either going to be high or low scoring. If two teams who have been on offensive tears meet, the over will likely garner a significant amount of interest at books as a result.
Scoring has been on the rise in the NHL in recent years, and oddsmakers have had to inflate over/under totals to keep pace. These days, the most common total for NHL games is 5.5 or 6, while other games can get up as high as 6.5 or even 7 in rare circumstances.
Futures betting is exactly that – betting on the outcome of events down the road. Placing money on futures could serve as a long-term payoff, but potential funds will be tied up in your account until the team you bet on emerges triumphant or loses.
The most common type of NHL futures wager for beginners is odds to win the Stanley Cup, although there are plenty of other options such as divisions, conferences, and individual awards. Last season, a St. Louis Blues fan bet $400 on them to win the Cup at +250000 when they were the worst team in the league in January.
Thanks to a torrid stretch in the latter half of the campaign and a lights-out postseason, that futures bet fetched the fan a cool $100,000 when the Blues won their first Stanley Cup in June.
To Win in Regulation
Like the puckline, betting a team to win in regulation offers an alternative to the standard moneyline. Going back to the Senators-Lightning example, if you’re not interested in risking $100 for the Lightning to win outright due to the -200 moneyline odds, you’ll find better odds for them to win in regulation (after three periods). The odds of Tampa winning in regulation would likely be in the -130 ballpark, so it won’t be as expensive to back them.
If the game goes to overtime or a shootout, your regulation bet will be deemed a loser regardless of which club you had action on. Overtime is very common in the NHL, so pick your spots when deciding to move forward with regulation options.
Luke Miller is a featured writer at BettingPros.