The National Hockey League has been through the ringer the past decade. Yet despite the league’s many work stoppages, it will always have a strong following throughout many parts of the United States and Canada.
Although it ranks firmly behind the NBA, NFL, and MLB and college football and basketball in terms of the amount wagered, the NHL is still a viable betting option that has a large variety of markets.
The northeastern United States and Canada as a whole make a large portion of the NHL’s fanbase. European markets, despite having domestic leagues of their own, also have many fans who are passionate about the league. However, the NHL’s popularity worldwide has not surged nearly as much as other North American professional leagues such as the NFL or NBA.
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NHL Betting Strategy Articles
The NHL isn’t our best sport here at Safest Betting Sites, but betting on hockey is popular across the globe. The sport is certainly a different animal compared to others – and by many accounts – hockey betting markets are far less efficient than the other three professional sports.
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NHL Betting Types
Those who are familiar with baseball betting will be right at home with hockey betting markets. Unlike football and basketball, there are no traditional point spreads. The baseline odds are in moneyline format. Totals operate the same way as football and basketball, but with less variation in numbers. Pucklines are a point-spread-and-moneyline wager hybrid that is available in NHL betting markets.
- Boston Bruins +110
- Pittsburgh Penguins -120
This is a typical NHL contest as a sportsbook would list it. The Penguins are the home team and the favorite. The Bruins are the away team and the underdog. The rules don’t change for moneyline wagering on hockey and bettors will be picking the outright winner.
NHL betting sites odds range from -110 to -300, but -300 favorites are generally on the rarer side. This can allow some nice underdog value when the favorites get that high.
Pucklines work the same way as baseball runlines. Using the same teams, here’s another example:
- Boston +1.5 (-250)
- Pittsburgh -1.5 (+230)
Notice that Boston is now a sizeable favorite and Pittsburgh is the underdog. That’s how important 1.5 goals is in a hockey game. NHL games are tight, and one goal can make all the difference.
If a game goes to overtime, it’s an automatic win if you have +1.5 goals, due to sudden death rules. This is why there’s such a steep price difference compared to the moneyline odds.
Occasionally, NHL betting sites will over pucklines larger than 1.5, such as 2.5 or 3.5 goals. The availability of lines depends on your preferred sportsbook.
- Boston Bruins
- Pittsburgh Penguins
- Total: Over 5.0 (-110) / Under 5.0 (-110)
Totals usually fall between 5.0 and 6.0 goals. Of course, this varies based on the matchup and skill of the goalies, among other factors that the NHL betting sites determine. Some games will fall below or above these numbers. A 4.5 total projects to be a high-scoring game and 6.5 total is projected to be a shootout.
NHL futures focus on the major events surrounding the league, including the Stanley Cup winner and Western and Eastern Conference titles. Each event offers the full field of teams and can offer some large payouts for long shot bets. The main drawback that some have with futures is that their funds are tied up for an extended period of time.
The prop market for hockey is much smaller compared to other sports because of the league’s low popularity. However, there’s still a viable market for those interested.
Player and team propositions usually surround the amount of shots and/or assists of a player or the number of goals scored by each team. Other propositions such as which team scores first or the number goals in a specific period are also available.
Propositions that are similar to future bets, such as which player will win the Hart Trophy (MVP) or which goalie will win the Vezina Trophy are available at most NHL betting sites. The Grand Salami wager, the total number of goals (over/under) scored that day, is also a popular bet. The same market is usually offered for MLB betting.
Every major US sport has live betting options, and hockey is no exception. NHL live betting is commonplace at most sites. Nationally televised games are more likely to be offered, and larger events like the NHL Finals or Olympic hockey will almost always have live betting options.
Live betting markets often include live updated odds ranging from pucklines, moneylines and totals betting to player and team props.
History and Season
The NHL has its roots back in 1917 when the league was originally known as the National Hockey Association (NHA). After many of the NHA’s owners had suspended their franchises, the National Hockey League was formed.
To start off, the league had only a few Canadian teams, but introduced America’s first hockey team, the Boston Bruins, in 1924. In 1926, the league had a total of 10 teams, mostly from Canada and the northeastern United States.
In 1933, the league expanded and was heard via radio across the country. World War II hurt the NHL, like many other professional sports leagues across North American, and the number of teams fell from ten to six.
Rapid expansion started in 1967, and the league doubled in size. In 1979, after the folding of the rival Western Hockey League (WHA), the NHL absorbed four of their teams to bring their total number to 21. As of 2014, the NHL has a total of 30 teams.
The regular season has the same number of games as the NBA, with 82 games starting in October and running through the middle of April. The playoffs begin shortly after. Also, parallel to the NBA is their playoff format. 16 out of the 30 teams make the playoffs in the NHL from the Eastern and Western Conferences, with eight teams making it from each conference. The league uses the best-of-seven games format for all playoff rounds.
Once the field is whittled down to one team from each conference, the conference champions will face off in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Writings and landscapes from many areas depicted games like today’s game. British officers wrote about playing “hockey” on ice and using rudimentary ice skates. Many of the First Nations played a similar sport at the time.
The sport continued to expand, and enough teams joined the Quebec National Hockey club that they had a “world championship” of ice hockey in the annual Winter Carnival in 1883. By 1893, over 100 teams existed in the Montreal area.
Professional ice hockey got a start in the United States as the Western Pennsylvania Hockey League. Teams from Michigan and Ontario formed with the PA league, and the first international professional league was born – the International Professional Hockey League (IPHL).
The NHA rebranded as the National Hockey League (NHL). They began expanding into the United States. The Boston Bruins, one of the most storied teams in today’s NHL, were formed in 1924.
The NHL has a lockout which canceled all the games of the season.
An NHL lockout canceled a significant portion of the season, limiting it to just 48 games.
The origins of hockey are relatively unknown. Games vaguely similar to the modern day game of today existed in parts of Europe. The first evidence of “hockey on ice” was written by William Pierre Le Cocq in a letter written in Chesham, England.
The first indoor hockey game was played in Montreal on March 3, 1875. The city would become the place where the modern game of ice hockey would be developed. The game was played between two nine-player teams, one from Montreal’s Victoria Skating Rink and McGill University Students.
A variation of the game was being played in America at the time. “Ice polo” had been the dominant game, but Yale and John Hopkins University began holding ice hockey games.
The National Hockey Association (NHA) is formed. Several rule changes are implemented, including, dropping the rover position, dividing the game into three 20-minute periods, and introducing minor and major penalties.
The “Miracle on Ice” captivates the country as a team of amateur Americans take down the Soviet Union’s hockey team in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.
“Operation Slapshot” was the name given to a sports betting ring on NHL games that involved, Rick Tocchet, an assistant coach for the Phoenix Coyotes. Wayne Gretzky’s wife, Janet Jones, was also under investigation.
In an interview with Bloomberg Radio, NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman, said that the NHL and the game of hockey, “does not lend itself to gambling.”
NHL Betting Now
The NHL won’t ever be a top sport regarding betting handle, but online betting markets have grown tremendously when it comes to hockey. NCAA Hockey playoff games are now available for betting at lots of offshore betting sites. Coming off a recent lockout, it’s amazing to see how passionate fans are hockey. The league will be around for years to come.