The National Hockey League not only provides an exhilarating and exciting experience each and every game, with the fast-paced gameplay and the aggression on the ice, but there’s also never a dull moment. As if that’s not exciting enough, betting on the NHL provides even more excitement. As one of the main North American professional sports, there are always plenty of NHL betting odds available for each and every game - and even more odds selection during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The NHL is made up of 31 teams, with 24 in the United States, and seven in Canada. The NHL started in 1917, with only four original teams - all based in Canada. The United States expansion began in 1924 with the Boston Bruins. The league expanded gradually as the decades passed, and by the millennium there were 30 teams, not seeing another til 2017, followed by the 32nd team being added this year.
The 32 teams are divided into two conferences: the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. Each conference is divided into two divisions, the East hosts the Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions, and the West hosts the Pacific and Central divisions. Though this year, due to travel restrictions, the League reorganized to have an exclusively Canadian Division.
With divisional and conference championships, as well as the Stanley Cup Finals, we have plenty of opportunities to bet on the NHL, even more so in the post-season. Let’s look into betting on NHL odds and how we can make a profit during the 2021 season. The Stanley Cup winners odds were last updated on April 9, 2021:
How to Bet on the NHL
The first step in learning how to bet on the NHL is to understand NHL betting odds.
NHL Betting Odds
NHL odds are those numbers you see next to a team name, whether positive or negative. This denotes how likely a team is to win the game. With the positive numbers indicating that the team is less likely to win than their opponent, and the negative number represents the favored team and would be more likely to win.
If you have the Toronto Maple Leafs at +300 and the Boston Bruins at -200, that means the Bruins are favored to win that game, and the Maple Leafs are the underdog. A bet on the Bruins wouldn’t pay out as much because the oddsmakers are predicting that they would be the ones to win, but a bet on the Maple Leafs would pay out much more if they did pull off the win.
NHL odds represent how much you would need to bet to win a certain amount of money. In the case above, you would need to bet $200 on the Bruins to win $100. You can bet any denomination, but that doesn’t sound like a bet that’s really worth your time unless you were 100% sure the Bruins would win the game. If you bet on the Maple Leafs, you would need to bet $100 to win $300 plus your initial stake.
Popular NHL Betting Options
Now that we’ve covered what NHL odds look like, let’s look at popular hockey betting types that you will be able to choose from when betting on the NHL.
Betting on the NHL Moneyline
The easiest betting type you can lay down on any given NHL game is the moneyline. It’s simple and easy to understand and great for new bettors. Your job is to determine which team will win the game. We’ve outlined basic moneyline bets above, let’s dig in a little further.
If the Bruins and Maple Leafs are playing and you believe the Bruins will win, you select the Bruins and you’re good to go. Ensure you review the odds and the pregame matchups to ensure you do plenty of research before making your bets.
Let’s look at an example:
- Boston Bruins -120
- Toronto Maple Leafs +450
We changed the numbers around to give you a different perspective. The Bruins are still the favored team, with -120 odds. A $120 wager, with the Bruins winning, would pay out $100 plus your initial wager. The Maple Leafs are still the underdog, and if they upset the Bruins and win, a $100 wager would yield $450 plus your initial $100.
Betting on NHL Point Spreads
Point spreads in the NHL are commonly referred to as the ‘puck line’. It is the exact same as any other point spread, it just goes by a different name. Spreads are popular throughout all professional sports, but NHL puck lines can have really great odds and almost foolproof spreads.
Point spreads essentially give the underdog team an imaginary head start, meant to level the playing field in games that are one-sided. Your sportsbook has expert oddsmakers that will decide who the favored team is, and determine the spread based on how those two teams match up for the game.
The NHL puck line is essentially how many points a team must win or lose by, depending on which side you’re betting on. If you choose the favored team, their spread will be a negative number, and they must win the game by that amount of goals. If you choose the underdog, they must lose by less than that number of goals or win the game.
For example, if you have the St. Louis Blues at -3.5 and the Dallas Stars at +3.5, the Blues are favored to win the game. The Blues are expected to win by quite a few goals, and for your bet to win, they must beat the Stars by more than 4 goals. The Stars, on the other hand, need to win the game or lose by less than 3 goals.
The puck line changes as the game time get closer, and you could get better value the closer you are to game time, as sportsbooks balance the lines based on the bets that come in early. They try to have equal value on either side of the bet so the Stars could be even bigger underdogs on game day.
Betting on NHL Totals
When looking at the odds board, and you can’t decide which team to bet on, betting on the over/under or the totals can be a great opportunity to still get value out of a game. Totals betting is quite simple, and you don’t have to choose one team over another - you simply have to decide if the total amount of points scored by both teams collectively will be over or under the oddsmaker’s line.
If you have the Chicago Blackhawks versus the Nashville Predators, and the total is set at 7.5, you will need to decide if you think both teams will score more or less than five. If both teams easily get over four goals per game, that should be an easy bet to place, and you’d take the over.
Betting on NHL Props
Prop bets or proposition bets as they’re commonly referred to as are the more fun bets associated with any given game. Props are unusual circumstances or happenings that don’t have anything to do with the outcome of the game. You could bet on a certain player to score a goal or pin two players against each other to bet on who would have the most points.
Prop bets are just for fun, and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. The best online sportsbooks offer a huge selection of props per game, providing a much greater variety than your neighbourhood retail sportsbook.
Betting on NHL Futures
NHL Futures are extremely popular early in the season because they offer huge value with higher risk. Betting on NHL Futures means you are placing a bet on which team will win an event outcome months in advance. As soon as the Stanley Cup is hoisted each year, sportsbooks put out the following year’s futures.
The main NHL Futures that sports bettors tend to focus on are the Winners of the Stanley Cup and the conference winners. Predicting if a team will win the Stanley Cup months before it happens can get you some great value in the long run.
Let’s use the 2018-2019 season for our example (because it’s an epic futures story). In June 2018, when the Stanley Cup Finals concluded, sportsbooks were quick to highlight the Tampa Bay Lightning as the favorites to win the 2019 Stanley Cup. The St. Louis Blues, on the other hand, had been sitting at 60-1 odds all season - even in January, they were the worst-ranked team in the NHL.
A lucky bettor placed a $600 bet on the Blues at 60-1 in January 2019, and won $36,000 in a huge upset - but a life-changing payday for certain Blues backers.
In some instances, you can find value in the average or middle of the pack teams sneaking up the standings and inching into the finals or even their conference finals.
Top Online Sportsbooks for Betting on the NHL
Now that you have a good idea of how to bet on the NHL, we can look at where to bet on your favorite NHL teams.
Though your state may have legalized sports betting already, many haven’t passed laws or updated legislation yet, so offshore sportsbooks are still the best option for betting on the NHL
Finding an online sportsbook that offers the best NHL betting odds, NHL bonuses and a variety of deposit options should be your main priority. All sportsbooks are different, so shopping around for the best NHL betting odds and the best features are of the utmost importance!
Should I bet on my favorite hockey team?
Only with extra caution. While it is more fun to bet onour favorite team, it is also much harder to take an objective look to make the best bets in the NHL.
So, what's the best NHL bet tonight?
Tonight's best NHL bet will depend on your overall NHL betting strategy. No single bet is the best for everyone.
What's some NHL betting advice for beginners?
Sign up at one of the trusted websites that we recommend on this page. Start slow and build up speed as you develop your NHL betting strategy.
How do NHL futures bets work?
In futures bets, you are betting on something far ahead of us in the future. These are normally big games with lots of hype. Following the markets and watch how the NHL betting odds change over time.
Why do NHL lines change?
They can change for many reasons. Sometimes a player gets injured, or a team changes its lineup. They can also fluctuate based on how many bets are coming into that sportsbook.
Is there live hockey betting?
Yes, at the sportsbooks we recommend, you are likely find lots of live hockey betting.
How does a puckline bet work?
It is similar to a spread in other sports betting. In an NHL puckline bet of 1.5, the favorite must win by two goals, otherwise, the losing team is the winning ticket.