How To Bet The NHL

Hockey Betting Guide 2020

Skates, pucks, and plenty of speed, skill, and action. The NHL offers fast-paced excitement and that can go for bettors as well.

Hockey is back and NHL fans may want to get in on the action by placing a few dollars on that next big game.

The NHL kicked off the playoffs for its 2019-20 season on Saturday, Aug. 1 with postseason qualification series’ and a round robin tournament for the top four seeds in each conference.

Here’s a complete guide to making those wagers this season.

NHL betting odds

How to bet the NHL — best betting sites

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Legal sports betting is expanding across the United States, and bettors should particularly be aware of these sportsbooks:

DraftKings Sportsbook — Available in NJ, PA, IA, IN, NH and WV
FanDuel Sportsbook — Available in NJ, PA, IN and WV
BetMGM — Available in NJ, 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.

How to bet on NHL hockey

NHL moneyline

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 the Boston Bruins, the book may list the following:

  • Boston Bruins +120
  • St. Louis Blues -110

This means the Blues are favored and a bettor would have to risk $110 to win $100 (or $11 to win $10). A bet on the underdog Boston would bring $120 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 Boston, the Blues may be -1.5 (+200) and the Bruins at +1.5 (-220).

A $100 wager on the favored Blues would earn $200 if they can win by 2 or more. On the other side, it will take a $220 bet on the Bruins to return $100. If Boston wins or loses by only a single goal, that bet would be paid.

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 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, the matchup between the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators might be set at a total of 5.5.

A 4-2 win by the Stars would reward “over” bettors with a win because the total score in the game was 6. A 3-2 Predators win would pay the “under” bettors instead.

It’s important to note that 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 bring a bettor $750 if Tampa can finish as the NHL champion. A wager on the Winnipeg Jets at +2800 would pay 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

Click here for current NHL Stanley Cup futures odds

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:

  • Injuries
  • Scoring leaders
  • Ability of one team to close out a game
  • Ability of a team to hold a lead