Looking to get started betting on hockey with the 2021 NHL season? Our NHL betting guide breaks down all you need to know to place hockey bets with a look at all the various betting markets, terms and strategies. We’ll also showcase daily NHL betting odds from the top legal US sportsbooks.
The 2021 NHL regular season runs from Wednesday, Jan. 13, through mid-May and will have all 31 teams playing a 56-game, regionally-based schedule. The Colorado Avalanche entered the season as the betting favorites to win the Stanley Cup, with the 2019-20 champion Tampa Bay Lightning right behind.
NHL betting odds
NHL Betting Guide: Best betting sites
Legal sports betting is expanding across the United States, and bettors should particularly be aware of these sportsbooks:
DraftKings Sportsbook — Available in MI, NJ, CO, PA, IA, IL, IN, NH, TN, VA and WV
FanDuel Sportsbook — Available in MI, NJ, CO, PA, IA, IL, IN, TN, VA and WV
BetMGM — Available in MI, CO, IA, IN, NV, NJ, PA, TN, VA and WV
Each of these sportsbooks will have a wide selection of special offers and promotions for the NHL aimed at both first-time and existing customers.
NHL Betting Guide: How to bet on hockey
Unlike football and some other sports, hockey betting revolves around the moneyline. In a moneyline wager, a bettor simply selects the winning team with payouts being less depending on the odds.
In hockey, bettors only have to pick the winning team no matter the margin of victory. There will always be a favorite and an underdog, with payouts adjusted on which team you select.
For example in a matchup between the St. Louis Blues and Avalanche, the book may list the following:
- St. Louis Blues +125
- Colorado Avalanche -152
This means the Avalanche are favored and a bettor would have to risk $152 to win $100 (or $15.20 to win $10). A bet on the underdog Blues would bring $125 for a winning $100 bet. Obviously, a bet on the underdog brings more money than a bet on the favorite.
Unlike in other sports, point spreads don’t enter into traditional hockey wagering. Got a hunch on a team? Simply open your sports betting app and make a selection. It’s that easy.
NHL puck line betting
This offers bettors another interesting bet with a potential for some better returns depending on the side you bet. The puck line (similar to the run line in baseball) is usually set at 1.5 and is a version of point spread betting applied to hockey.
In an average hockey game, final scores usually are decided by a goal or two. These wagers offer some extra action on teams taking that scoring into mind.
So when considering a puck line wager, bettors are basically weighing whether a team can win by two goals or more.
For example, in a matchup between St. Louis and Colorado, the Blues may be +1.5 (-240) and the Avs at -1.5 (+190).
A $100 wager on the favored Avalanche would earn $190 if they can win by 2 or more. On the other side, it will take a $240 bet on the Blues to return $100.
For the most part the puck line is usually set at 1.5, but that can drift as high as 2.5 depending on the matchup. A poor defensive team against a top-notch offensive opponent might see the puck line move up.
Betting the puck line offers some extra incentives for picking a winner – especially when selecting a favorite.
NHL totals (over/under)
The over/under is a traditional bet based on the total number of goals scored between two teams. This is similar to wagers a bettor would find in other sports.
The bettor is making a choice whether the total goals will go “over” or “under.” For example, a marquee offensive matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers might be set at a total of 6.5.
A 4-3 win by the Flyers would reward “over” bettors with a win because the total score in the game was 7. A 3-2 Penguins win would pay the “under” bettors instead.
It’s important to note these lines can move depending on the betting action on either side. The sportsbook is looking to balance the amount of money bet on each side so that it doesn’t have too much of a liability.
Sportsbooks profit by taking a percentage of the total bet – the vig or juice. Totals can be good wagers, especially if a bettor has some insight into each team’s offensive productivity.
NHL parlay wagering
Like in other sports, parlay wagering can offer a fun sweat on multiple games or event outcomes. In a parlay a bettor makes multiple selections on one wager.
To win, all those selections must hit for a bettor to score a win. Lose on one of those and the entire bet is a loser. However, hitting on a parlay can pay much higher odds than wagering on a single game or outcome.
For example a bettor may place a parlay wager on the Stars, Devils, and Sharks. If all those teams win, a bettor could earn around 6-1 for that wager. A $100 bet would score the bettor $600, but that may depend on the selections and if they were favorites or underdogs.
Parlay wagers can be made on two teams or up to 10 or 12. Along with simply selecting teams, bettors can also mix in totals and even other sports at some books to make it even more interesting.
NHL futures wagering
This is one of the most popular forms of sports betting and futures betting offers a lot for hockey fans also. When betting on futures, a player is looking toward the end of the season for a certain outcome to occur.
Obviously the most NHL futures wagering will be on the winner of the Stanley Cup. Books will offer odds on all 31 teams to win the championship.
For example, the Tampa Bay Lightning were the odds-on favorite to win the Cup before the 2019-20 season. Those for the team to win the Cup were +750 or 7.5 to 1.
A $100 bet on the Lightning would have brought a bettor $750 with Tampa Bay’s Stanley Cup win. A wager on the Winnipeg Jets at +2800 would have paid a bettor 28-1 – a return of $2,800 on a $100 bet.
The Stanley Cup isn’t the only wager available for futures betting. Odds may be offered on:
- Conference winners
- Over and unders for points in the standings for individual teams
- Regular season point totals for individual players
- Team leading scorers
- Postseason awards such as the Vezina Trophy
NHL live betting
Some sports bettors looking for even more action may enjoy live betting. Many online sportsbooks offer this feature and it’s a way to have more bets going in the middle of a matchup.
That could include totals, puck line, and other wagers available during the first and second intermission. Bettors can add other wagers as the game plays out on the ice and adjust their betting trends as needed.
When betting, it may be important to follow the action in regards to several facts when placing those wagers. Those could include:
- Scoring leaders
- Ability of one team to close out a game
- Ability of a team to hold a lead