How to Bet on NHL Hockey Games

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Moneyline Betting on NHL Hockey

Much like baseball, hockey doesn’t offer quite as many betting options as football and basketball, given the close, usually low-scoring nature of the game. For that reason, moneyline betting is the most common option for NHL wagers. So let’s start there.

Even if you’re not a huge hockey fan, you might enjoy betting on NHL action, as long as you’re a fan of winning. Hockey is a notoriously tough game to predict because the gap between the best team and the worst team in the league is not that big. While that makes it tough for bettors to pick winners, it makes it equally tough for bookmakers to set lines.

For instance, sportsbooks treat hockey like other sports when it comes to home-ice/home-field advantage, building it into the line. But statistics and history don’t necessarily justify it, as there’s much less benefit to playing in your own barn in hockey. If you do the research, it’s not hard to find value betting hockey on the moneyline.

When you bet on the NHL moneyline, you’re simply betting who will win the game.

NHL Betting Guide Image Two

Note: The Three-Way Moneyline

Side note: the NHL no longer has ties. But a large number of games settle in overtime and shootouts, and some books offer both a two-way and three-way moneyline. The three-way moneyline will rule a game a draw if it is tied after 60 minutes, while the two-way moneyline will give you the win no matter when the game is decided. Let’s stick with two-way betting, for now, to keep things simple.


A Sample Moneyline:

Below is the closing moneyline for a playoff game between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens.

three way moneyline hockey nhl sample line new york rangers montreal canadiens


There’s nothing complicated here. The Canadiens are on the bottom because they’re the home team. The -145 payout (bet $145 to win $100) indicates that they are the favorite, while the Rangers +135 payout (bet $100 to win $135) shows they are the underdog.


NHL Hockey Betting on The “Puck Line”

Puck line betting comes in handy on the rare occasions when there is a big favorite in the NHL, you may want to get more value than betting on a short moneyline, which might only payout at -250 or so (i.e., bet $250 to win $100). In such cases, the NHL’s spread option might interest you. Akin to betting on the runline in MLB baseball, NHL games have a “puck line” (sometimes called a Canadian line), where the favorite has to win by 1.5 goals to “cover the spread.”


A Sample “Puck Line”

The table below shows what the puck line looked like for our Rangers vs Canadiens example.


TeamMoneylinePuck LineTotal (O/U)
New York Ranger+135+1.5 (-150)O 5.5 (-110)
Montreal Canadiens-145-1.5 (+140)U 5.5 (-110)


The 1.5-goal puck line won’t change in the lead-up to the game, unlike spreads in the NFL and NBA. However, if bettors wager a lot more money on one team than the other, the payouts will change. In our example, if bettors placed 75-percent of the betting money on the Canadiens in the lead-up, that +140 payout would likely shrink to +130 or thereabouts, while the payout on the Rangers would get a little better (perhaps moving from -150 to -140). (Why? Because, as we’ve discussed elsewhere, sportsbooks want to see equal betting on both teams. Changing the payouts in this fashion will encourage more wagers on the Rangers and fewer on the Canadiens.)

Because these spreads don’t move, hockey doesn’t have teaser betting as an option. If you want to familiarize yourself with teasers and all kinds of multiple bets, check out our guide.


Betting on the Total Score

NHL games do have a game total option, and that number is usually set around 5.5. If two great goaltenders are playing, it can go as low as 5, and an offensive clash may see the total up at 6, but there’s not a great deal of variance on a game by game basis.

The total in our Rangers vs Canadiens example would be displayed as follows:

betting totals sample line nhl new york rangers montreal canadiens



Total betting for hockey works the same as any other sport. If six or more goals are scored in the Rangers/Canadiens game, the people who bet on the over win. If the teams combine for five or fewer goals, the under bettors win.

There is one wrinkle to keep in mind, though: should an NHL game go to a shootout (which is only possible in the regular season), only one goal will count toward the total, even if multiple shooters score during the shootout. If the example above went to a shootout and tied 1-1, and all three Ranger shooters scored while one scored for the Habs, the total would only be three because the final score of the game is 2-1 in favor of New York.


Other NHL Bet Types

Most bigger sportsbooks offer a few props on nightly NHL games, but they’re not as extensive as other sports; given the lack of individual statistics (goals, assists, saves), bookmakers have less to work with. You’ll still be able to find intriguing bets like, “Will Sidney Crosby score a goal?” and “Will Carey Price record a shutout?” The payouts will vary with the nature of the prop and, of course, the opponent.

In addition to individual player props, you’ll also find game props, such as whether the total number of goals will be odd or even, and whether the game will go to overtime. Each game should also have a first-period moneyline, total and spread to play, as well as live-betting options for the second and third periods

If you’re looking to string together a few games in one bet, parlays and round robins are always an option for NHL games.

We’ve already covered the basics and specifics of those multi bets in our guide so we won’t repeat ourselves now. Just remember that: you can’t use a spread and moneyline pick from the same game, and the maximum number of games you can put in a parlay will vary by sportsbook.

Sportsbooks will post Stanley Cup odds for all 31 teams in the NHL at the start of the year (at the latest) and often sooner. Teams will only be removed from the board as they are mathematically eliminated during the season. Odds for who will win each conference (a.k.a. make the Stanley Cup final) are also available. You can even find regular season and playoff MVP odds at most sportsbooks.

However, regular-season win totals are not a common occurrence for hockey, like they are in the NBA, NFL, and MLB. That is a result of hockey’s lack of popularity in the United States, in part. It’s also because regular-season wins aren’t the most accurate reflection of success in the NHL. Both 3-on-3 overtime and shootouts are seen as a virtual toss-up when it comes to deciding a game, that’s why the loser of either game collects a single point each time. A team can finish with a lot of points, but not a lot of wins. That’s why the few sportsbooks that offer season-long NHL over/unders opt for total points instead of total wins.


NHL Betting Strategies & Tips Advice

Having your favorite hockey team and knowing them like the back of your hand is a useful step towards developing an overall hockey betting strategy. But it is not enough. In fact, it can be an impediment if you obsess too much with your favorite team. So, be sure to remember our NHL betting tips when you’re next wagering.

Having specific knowledge about the teams and players is just one route towards hockey betting success. Let’s go over some of the NHL betting trends, strategies, and tips that will help you make the best hockey bets possible.

NHL Betting Guide Image

Bankroll Management for Hockey Betting

Bankroll management in hockey betting is a totally different way to make great hockey bets today. Instead of focusing on which bet, spending hours comparing stats, analyzing schedules, and worrying about injury reports, you just make a bet. Here, the strategy comes in the form of how much you wager.

There are two basic approaches here. One is the unit approach, where you always risk the same amount of money, and this will allow you to compare how you do with different approaches or when betting on your favorite team. The other approach is the percentage, where you bet a fixed percentage of what you have in your hockey betting site account.

Both of these approaches to this hockey betting strategy will help you analyze your betting skills and make necessary adjustments.

Shop the Lines

It is recommended that you sign up with more than one NHL betting site. Why not? At the sites we recommend the signup process is quick and simple, so you should not spend too much time doing it. This will also give you the experience you need to decide which one you prefer. By line shopping you are able to successfully follow NHL betting trends and maximizing your chances of finding value in the odds.

Plus, you can compare lines across the sportsbooks where you have accounts quickly and simply. This will help you save money in the short and long-term, as you will always be getting the best deal. you can quickly maximize your payouts just by doing a bit of line shopping.


Be Careful with Your Favorite

While it is great to know your favorite NHL team well, it is more important how you use this knowledge. It is far too easy to see our team’s chance through rose-tinted glasses. Sometimes your team will lose.

In fact, it can be a good idea to ban yourself from betting on your favorite team. It is just difficult to be objective. If you do want to bet on your favorite team, because we all know how fun it can be, just keep an eye on your success rate. Are you willing to bet against your favorite team?


Live Betting and the NHL

Having an online hockey betting site you can trust has many advantages. One of them is live NHL betting. The internet facilitates the rapid transmission of stats and calculation of odds. Thank goodness for this. Live betting is a whole new world within the betting universe.

Live betting is more exciting for one. You can watch the odds go up and down in real-time and feel the adrenaline rush as the clock is ticking. The odds change fast, so you have to move fast if you want to make today’s best hockey bets.

It is also a great learning experience. Because you can see how specific stats or goals or happenings in the hockey game affect the markets, you will have a better sense of how hockey odds work. It is essentially a way of having hockey odds explained to you, but on a deeper level.

Plus, live hockey betting is great because you will have more options for each market available. Because the odds change many times throughout the game, you do not simply have to accept what you see. You can wait in hiding and pounce on your prey when you see fit.

You can find almost every type of hockey bet during live betting as well. Here are some examples:

  • Over/Under
  • Spread
  • NHL Moneylines
  • Hockey Parlays
  • Will there be a hat trick?


Betting on NHL Hockey Games FAQ

Find answers to common questions bettors like you have when researching which sportsbook to join.