It seems like a distant memory now, but not too long ago the National Hockey League was an association dominated by Canadian-born athletes.
Now there is a growing group of players born in America and Europe who are entering the sport, which has led to a spike in popularity of the game throughout the world.
With the growth in popularity, there has been an increase in bets placed on NHL games, and that is where you come into the picture.
However, with many factors affecting the outcome of every game, those venturing into the betting world find wagering on NHL games to be nothing more than a guessing game.
In this NHL betting tips guide, we show you that it doesn’t have to be that way.
We will closely look at the most important factors that play a role in the outcome of a matchup and use that knowledge to win bets and put some cash into your pockets.
Table of Contents
Choosing the Right Types of Bet
When it comes to ice hockey betting, there is a wide range of options, such as; moneyline, over/under, puck line, point spread, regulation time, first period, and parlays.
It is important to determine the most predictable lines that offer the greatest payouts. Risk-reward management is the key to generating a profit from sports betting.
Our first step is to figure out the basic concepts behind each type of bet before we can analyse them.
The following is a breakdown of what the different type of bets offer:
When betting moneyline, you simply need to choose the winner of the game. ‘Moneyline’ is simply the Americanised term for the ‘win-draw-win’ market.
Over/under bets involve trying to determine the total number of combined goals scored in a game by the two teams.
These types of bets are beneficial when betting in accordance with starting goaltenders and home-away statistics.
Puck line offers a standard point spread of -1.5 on the favourite and +1.5 on the underdog. This type of bet offers better payout for the risk-taking bettor.
Keep in mind that unlike other sports, overtime in ice hockey guarantees a win for underdog puck line bettors who take the +1.5 spread.
On top of the standard puck line spreads of -1.5/+1.5, point spreads of 2.5 and 3.5 are also often offered. These are the same as handicap bets, whereby you need one team to overcome their handicap to win your bet.
Due to the low scoring nature of ice hockey games, these spreads tend to have much more lucrative payouts.
As an alternative to moneyline, regulation time bets are also offered. Bettors place wagers on spreads of -0.5 on favourites and +0.5 on underdogs.
Favourite bettors win the bet if the favoured team wins in regulation time. However, underdog bettors win if the underdog team wins in regulation or if the game goes into overtime. In most English sports, this is known as ‘double chance’ where you’re backing the underdog to win or draw.
Therefore, betting on the favourite offers greater payout in regulation time bets.
This type of bet involves wagering on the first period of play (first 20 minutes of the game).
These bets typically come in two forms; moneyline bets where you choose the winner of the period, or with spreads of -0.5/+0.5.
Perhaps combining multiple bets is what you were born to do. Many bettors combine a moneyline bet with an over bet in games featuring two below average goaltenders.
Both bets must be won for you to receive the payout, however, the overall payoff will be much greater than if it were multiple single bets.
Do you have the gift of foresight? Can you predict who will win Rookie of the Year or the Hart Memorial Trophy (most valuable player to a team)?
Then futures betting is just for you, where you have the option of betting on probable outcomes months, or even years in advance.
Now that we have a grasp on the different types of bets, how do you determine which is right for you? It is quite simple actually: reduce the amount of guesswork you’ll be doing.
To reduce risk and maximise profit, you should actually try to avoid parlays and accumulators, as they offer poor long-term value. However, for other betting options, using the tips and tricks detailed below we’ll move more odds into your favour.
I know if you’re reading this that you’re probably a sports fan and don’t have to be told this, however, it is worth emphasising: watch as many games as possible.
Nothing comes close to watching games firsthand.
Sure, you could look at the box score at the end of the night, but many of those statistics are often accrued during the waning minutes of the game when the outcome is all but decided. These types of ‘garbage time stats’ are also prevalent when betting on the NFL.
Only by watching the games yourself can you determine if that empty net goal is worth considering for your next bet or if the injury to the star goaltender is as serious as reported.
You should be the judge and authority when placing your hard earned money on the line.
This is possibly the single most important thing to look at when you do research before placing a bet on the NHL.
An injury to a key player changes the entire landscape of a matchup, especially if that player is a star goaltender.
As the last line of defence, goaltenders are the lynchpin of any team. However, certain teams have adequate defensemen and back-up goalies, so keep that in mind.
Each situation is unique, so bet on teams that you’re familiar with.
Journalists and bloggers assigned to NHL teams are an invaluable source of firsthand information. Make sure to read these sources and follow them on Twitter.
You will gain useful information on the chemistry and mental state of the team that will go a long way towards helping you become a successful bettor.
Home Versus Away
As we all know, travel takes a toll on anyone, and that holds true for athletes as well. Nothing beats sleeping in your own bed and eating a home cooked meal.
It is only natural that on average, home teams tend to perform better than visitors.
Home teams win 54.5% of the games and this number further grows to 57.5% in the playoffs. Hosts also score about 10% more goals than tourists.
Teams may rest their starting goaltender in favour of the backup in order to provide some rest. This often occurs about once a week, with typical teams playing 2-4 times a week on average.
Make sure to look at the starting line-ups before placing any bets to see who the goalies will be.
Goaltenders have a direct influence on the number of goals scored in a game, and even the final outcome of a matchup.
NHL Betting Strategies
So you have the basics down, now what?
The next step is to figure out the best ice hockey betting strategies to maximise profit.
But how do you figure that out?
It’s easy: bet on the teams starting star goaltenders and on less popular teams, while taking overtime and shootout tactics into consideration.
Yes, I am going to drill this point into your head. Starting goaltending has the greatest influence on the outcome of a game.
When there are two very good starting goalies, a sensible decision could be to bet on the under for a game, likewise, the opposite holds true for a game featuring two below average goaltenders.
However, just because a backup is in net doesn’t mean that you must bet on the over, some teams have adequate defensemen that will make any goalie look like a star.
Look at a team’s goal averages for and against with different goaltenders manning the crease and figure out whether betting the over or under is more favourable. The NHL website is great for finding useful statistics.
A large amount of bets are placed on popular teams, meaning the odds for unpopular teams become more desirable.
Less popular teams often offer better odds with relatively less risk.
Betting on these unwanted squads could be the way you start lining your pockets with some cash.
Overtime and Shootout
After the 2004-2005 lockout season, NHL implemented new rules removing the possibility of tie games and replacing it with a shootout at the end of the overtime period.
Teams are also awarded a single point for games that are tied after regulation and a further point is rewarded to the team that ultimately wins the contest.
This has led to teams playing conservatively when the game is tied late in regulation to ensure the securing of the single point, and then attempt to win the game in overtime or the shootout.
If you are expecting a game to be close, take this into consideration, especially when placing puck line bets. When following this line of thought, it gives further value to placing the +0.5 spread bet on the underdog.
This is extremely important to consider when betting in-play.
As we can see, there are many factors that come into play when trying to figure out the outcome of an NHL game.
However, we can cut down on the guesswork by looking at team and injury reports, home-away stats, and starting goaltending.
Sticking to spread bets, with occasional puck line bets on the underdog for games expected to be tight will maximise your betting success. Leave the ‘fun’ bets to those that don’t want to make a profit.
Make sure to place your over/under bets after researching the starting goaltenders and defence of the two teams squaring off to increase your payout.
Betting doesn’t have to be an unpredictable coin flip. Follow these simple tips and climb the ladder to success.
Now all you have to do is sit back, open a cold one, and enjoy the magic on ice.