Betting on the NHL may be an acquired taste for most sports bettors. However, it can offer even more value than the NFL or the NBA if you know how to bet on the games. From early October right through the Stanley Cup Finals in June, the NHL has almost daily action on the board at all the top online sportsbooks with a number of different ways to bet on the games.
The biggest difference between betting on hockey verse football and basketball is the moneyline bet verse a bet on the sides with the use of a pointspread. While moneylines are also prevalent in the NFL and NBA, betting the spread draws in the majority of the action. The NHL does have its version of a spread with the puck line, but the majority of the action is on the posted moneyline odds.
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Another difference with NHL games is three 20-minute periods verse four 15-minute quarters for NFL games. The general rule at online sportsbooks for each sport is that once a game reaches at least 55 minutes of playing time it becomes official. Any overtime play in a hockey game is part of the final results as far as wins and losses on the moneyline along with the OVER/UNDER on the total line.
One of the unique aspects of overtime in the NHL is the use of a shootout as a tiebreaker. This is put into play if a tie remains after one period of overtime. If a shootout is used to decide the outcome, one goal will be added to the winning team’s final score, regardless of how many goals were posted. The general rule at most books is that shootout goals do not count towards any prop bets where scoring is involved.
A NHL puck line is used to create a 1.5-goal spread between the favorite and the underdog along with a corresponding moneyline. A typical puck line reads as follows:
New York Rangers +1 ½ -160
Philadelphia Flyers -1 ½ +140
Philadelphia gives up a goal and a half as the favorite in the matchup, which means it needs to win the game by at least two goals to cover. If New York wins outright or loses by just one goal, it would win this bet.
The standard moneyline listing for this same matchup would be:
New York Rangers +170
Philadelphia Flyers -190
This reflects the Flyers as clear favorites in a straight-up matchup. The best betting value in a NHL puck line bet is when there is a high level of confidence that the favorite will win by two or more goals.
Most online sportsbooks will also offer betting on individual periods. A single period must be completed to have action and any play in overtime is separate from the third-period results. Most books do not allow any parlay or if-bets containing multiple periods within the same game. You should always consult the official rules governing betting hockey at your sportsbook where the bet will be placed.
Game props and player props are another popular way to bet on NHL games. The same 55-minute rule applies to these type of bets as far as making games official. Overtime is generally not included in the graded results.
Once again, check the official rules for props at the book where the bet will be placed.
In the case of a scoreless game in regulation or individual period within a game, any ODD or EVEN props will be graded as being even. For regular season player props, a goalie must play 41 of 82 games for action and any other position must play at least 73 games.
A three-way NHL moneyline adds in the option of betting that a game does end as a tie in regulation. Overtime does not apply in this type of bet.
Any bets on NHL futures will be considered official once 80 of the 82-game regular season have been played.