Introduction to Betting on the NHL

Introduction to betting on the NHL

Most Common NHL Bets

There are loads of ways to bet on hockey, but some of the most popular markets include:

Money Line

The money line is the simplest bet in sports to understand, and it’s the easiest to get started with for beginners to betting on hockey. With the money line, we pick whichever team we think will win a game, and if they win their matchup, then we win our bet.

Puck Line

If we think an underdog will do well and keep a game close, but not necessarily win it, or if we think a team will really wipe the floor with their opponent, then the puck line is the place to go. Here, the bookies apply a virtual handicap to one of the teams, and we have to decide who will win once this has been applied to the final score.

In hockey, the scores are quite low, so unlike other sports where the point spreads make a game a 50/50 toss-up, with hockey it means we can get some nice long odds on a favorite to win by a couple of goals or reduce the risk when backing an outsider by giving them a head start.

Most of the time, we are dealing with a 1.5-goal handicap, so essentially we are either betting on the favorite to win by 2 or more or the underdog to keep the game to within a single score.

Game Totals

In some cases, we may be unsure about the outcome of a match and who will win it, but might have a better idea about the strengths and weaknesses of both teams and how that will affect the sort of match we will see.

This is where game total bets come in, and the most popular is the “total goals” bet.

In this type of bet, the bookie will have decided on an average amount of goals they expect to see in a game, and we have the choice on whether we believe there will be over or under this number of goals.

In most cases, the number of goals will be a decimal, for example 5.5 goals, meaning we can only either win or lose this bet, with no potential for a bet to be pushed. In addition to the total goals, we can bet on the number of goals in each period as well as many other markets.

The NHL Season


Before the regular season begins, the coaches need to get their players ready for the rigors of regular season action. Training camp and a series of exhibition games get players back up to speed after a summer away from the game while allowing the team to finalize their rosters ready for the new season. The exhibition games take place in the last couple of weeks of September, with some even played abroad in countries like China with the aim to expand the game’s horizons.

Regular Season

The real action begins in October and runs all the way through to April, with each team playing a total of 82 games across those six months. Games are played on nearly every day of the year in between those dates, with many teams going through spells of playing back-to-back games which can be tough on the legs.

The NHL is split into two conferences - east and west - and each of these conferences is then split into two divisions. The scheduling for an NHL regular season is complicated, but essentially each team plays their divisional rivals four or five times, the rest of their conference three times, and teams in the other conference twice - once at home and once away.

At the end of the regular season, the top three from each division go through to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, along with two wildcard teams from each conference.

Stanley Cup Playoffs

The reward for performing well in the regular season is the chance to make it into the Stanley Cup Finals, with the end goal winning the trophy itself. The top-ranked team from a conference plays the lowest ranked wildcard team, the other division winner plays the higher ranked wildcard team, and the second and third rated sides in each division face off against each other. The format of the playoffs is a set of best of seven series to decide who progresses to the conference finals and then to the Stanley Cup Finals themselves.

The winner of the Stanley Cup earns the honor of being named the national champion for the season, getting their hands on the oldest trophy in North American sports history in the process.

NHL Betting Tips

Hockey is a great sport for betting, with games on almost every day of the year from the start of the season until the Stanley Cup Finals in May and June.

There are a number of ways to give yourself a good chance of making money from your hockey betting, including keeping a close eye on scheduling, statistics, and player news.

The scheduling is vitally important in ice hockey. The strength of schedule varies from one side to another, due to the fact each team plays the others an unequal number of times. Taking this into account when choosing your potential playoff contenders and Stanley Cup winners is essential.

Also, the order of games varies substantially from team to team, with many teams going on runs of home and road games that can either build or destroy confidence if a side gets on a hot or cold streak. A side might be better able to get a more rare road win after having had a nice streak of consecutive home games to build confidence and give the players a rest from traveling.

If you want to make a good go at betting on any sport, then using statistics is a necessity. By using stats, we can take an educated guess at how the game should pan out, giving us an idea of what to bet on before and during the game.

Hockey teams are pretty small in size, so team news has a massive effect on the chances of one team or the other. If a star player is out, it will be really hard for the team to cope without them, so making an effort to be on the ball with team and injury news will give you a great chance of spotting some great bets.

Most important of all, however, is making sure that you are using the best betting site for your hockey betting. By using Top 10 Sports Betting Sites, you are getting selections of top NHL bookies, so check out our chart and use only the top-rated NHL betting sites.


About the Author

Dan Bradley

Ever since he was 6 years old and made the fatal mistake of asking his Dad, "What's that on the TV?", Dan has been engrossed by football, and many other sports have since had a similar impact on him. Dan has been blogging and writing about sport for the last few years, usually looking at things from the perspective of a bettor, but most of all as a true sports fanatic. From golf to ten pin bowling: You name it, Dan’ll have an opinion on it.



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Top 3 Bookies

February 2021

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