Dubbed one of the Big Four in America, the NHL attracts fans not only from Canada and the US, but enjoys exceptional popularity around the world as well. Its annual season lasts around seven months, and the 82 games that occur throughout each season as the 32 clubs fight for the Stanley Cup provide ample wagering opportunities for the fans of the sport.

If you enjoy placing bets on NHL events, you will find that you have a great variety of wager types to pick from, ranging from the classic moneyline bets to the puck line, the NHL’s unique form of spread betting, and many more. You can also place NHL bets regardless of where you reside because the vast majority of international and region-specific sportsbooks all cover NHL events during its seasonal runs. In addition, wagering on live events is also possible thanks to this exceptional coverage.

Moreover, wagering on the NHL is now more accessible than ever. Thanks to the leaps sports betting websites have made on the world wide web and on mobile platforms, you can place hockey bets with the aid of your computer or smartphone even if you are on the go.

History of the NHL

The NHL’s origins are quite peculiar. It was founded in 1917 as a result of disputes between the owners of the then major National Hockey Association league, the NHA. With the NHA ceasing to be, the NHL founders continued the traditions and structure of the NHL’s predecessor.

Although the original six teams are of great significance to the league, it did not have six teams originally. There were only four, in the beginning, all of which were Canadian, and American teams were introduced in 1924. At the time, the league had extended up to 10 teams, but the great depression took its toll on the NHL, reducing its clubs to only six. These teams formed what became known as the original six, and the teams in question were the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Black Hawks, New York Rangers, and the Detroit Red Wings. What is more, all six of them still compete to this day.

Things were all in all great for the new league, and 1967 saw the NHL double in terms of club numbers. The NHL continued to expand throughout the years, and it merged with the WHA in 1979. As for gameplay, a significant change was introduced in 2004. Shootouts became mandatory, eliminating ties and increasing the total scores of matches. This was an improvement, seeing as a year prior, the butterfly goalie stance became preferred and remains the best technique to protect the net and thus scoring became more difficult.

The NHL has had a relationship with sports betting for quite some time now. This willingness to experiment was first observed when they were willing to create a team in Vegas, the Vegas Golden Knights, in 2017. That year also saw the legalization of sports betting in the US, at least to a certain extent. This was the start of a number of partnerships with sportsbooks and gambling establishments that, all in all, were beneficial to the league.

Overtime and Shootout

Hockey is unique in terms of how draws are dealt with during events. First of all, it is important to emphasize that no NHL match actually ends in a tie. If by the end of the regular event, there is no winner, the game will enter overtime which will continue for 5 minutes until someone scores a goal. If no one scores, additional overtime is given if we are talking about a Stanley Cup playoffs game. If the match is ordinary, though, then a shootout will proceed.

As for what a shootout entails, three players are picked from each team, and each of them goes one-on-one against their opponent’s goalie. Whichever team has the most points out of their respective three rounds wins.

Reading this, you might be asking yourself if it is possible for a traditional shootout to also end in a tie. The answer is yes, and this is where the sudden death shootout comes in. Here, players continue their attempts until one person scores and the game is no longer a tie.

None of this, however, means that draw bets do not exist in NHL betting. Far from it, seeing as there are sportsbooks that offer bets that simply exclude the overtime, shootout, or sudden death. Instead, they just allow you to bet on the moneyline or puck line of the regular game. Listings like this will clearly indicate what is excluded.

Popular NHL Bet Types

There are multiple ways to wager on NHL events. Although the variety here is not as rich as other sports, at least in terms of what bets are well-liked and the ones that are not, there is a choice to be made nonetheless.

Thanks to the presence of fairly simple types of bets such as the puck line and the moneyline, as well as the unique grand salami, recreational punters, in particular, will be pleased with what they can find. As for would-be professional punters, the grand salami is not the best choice all in all, but the other wager types available more than make up for this.

NHL Moneyline Bets

Moneyline bets are a simple wager type to start with, and they remain a great option for experienced NHL punters as well. In fact, the NHL is considered to be a moneyline-focused sport by many punters. When you wager on the moneyline, you place a bet on the team you believe will be the winner. That is all there is to it, so it is pretty simple. In addition, the vast majority of NHL bets are moneyline bets.

Something very important about the moneyline is how the underdogs and favorites are presented. This is reliant on the odds type, and with American odds, for instance, the favorites are the team with a minus before the odds. The underdogs, on the other hand, are represented with a minus. This changes the amount of money you would need to place in order to get a certain amount of money.

In addition to the moneyline, there is a unique type of bet called the 60-minute line. It is more or less the same, but the 60 line does not include overtime, nor the shootout.

The Puck Line

The puck line is an NHL-specific variation of what we call spread betting. It is unique to the NHL, and the traditional punchline line is typically offered with -1.5 and +1.5 for the favorite and underdog, respectively. In addition, these bets include overtime and shootout by default.

  1. Furthermore, there are several puck line bets, the first of which is the period puck line. As suggested, these are +/-0.5 spread wagers you can place on individual periods.
  2. In addition, NHL punters will often have the chance to take advantage of the so-called alternate puck lines. When these options are available, punters are able to find puck line options such as +2.5 or -2.5, a point above or under the typical +/- 1.5 puck line of NHL events. Choosing a more generous spread increases your chances of winning at the cost of the odds, while doing the opposite is a riskier approach which leaves you with better odds.
  3. Last but not least, the NHL also features an interesting bet named the reverse puck line. Essentially, this means that the favorite will have odds of +1.5, while the underdog will have a point spread of -1.5 points.
NHL Puck Line Betting Summary
Puck lineTeams
Montreal CanadiensColumbus Blue Jackets
Standard Puck line(-1.5) 4.64(+1.5) 1.21
Alternate Puck line(-1.0) 3.51(+1.0) 1.32
Alternate Puck line 2(+1.0) 1.95(-1.0) 1.93
Alternate Puck line 3(+1.5) 1.62(-1.5) 2.44
Alternate Puck line 4(+2.0) 1.41(-2.0) 3.06
Alternate Puck line 5(+2.5) 1.30(-2.5) 3.63

NHL Totals

Totals are often referred to as over/under bets, and that is because of the way they function. Placing an over/under bet means you are wagering on the combined score the teams will reach by the end of the game, and whether it will be under or over the one suggested by the sportsbook.

All in all, NHL totals are not all that different to the over/under bets of other sports. If you are new to NHL wagering and sports betting overall, however, you should keep in mind that the totals refer only to the combined score of both teams, even if the formatting might suggest otherwise at first glance.

Additionally, the numbers 5.5 and 6.5 are considered key numbers. Key numbers are common victory margins in sports, and although they are not as significant for NHL games as the key number in other sports, it is good to be aware of them nonetheless.

Lastly, bookies that offer NHL odds also tend to feature a bet named the Grand Salami. This is an over/under bet regarding the number of points all NHL matches from a given day will result in.

NHL Live Betting

Placing bets while a match is in full swing tends to be one of the highlights of sports betting as a whole, and it should come as no surprise that things are no different when it comes to the NHL. Moreover, pretty much any reputable sportsbook nowadays offers not only live betting, but live streams that allow you to easily follow what is happening in a match.

If you plan to place live NHL bets, you will be pleased to know that you do have sufficient options to choose from. Wagering on the moneyline can be done, as well as the puck line, and prop bets are an option as well. In addition, over/under bets are not absent from bookies’ listings either.

In a sense, wagering on NHL events as they are taking place is a bit similar to pregame betting, meaning you will need to keep lots of things into consideration while you are contemplating your wagering choices. Injuries, for instance, are very important, as are statistics and other factors that can affect the gameplay of the home and away teams. The difference is that while pregame bets allow you to do all of the thinking at your leisure, the same cannot be said about in-play. You will need to think fast, and you will often need to have done research prior to the match’s beginning. Keeping a close eye on the players’ condition during the event, as well as how they are reacting to their opponents and the crowd, is also crucial. Basically, live betting is not exactly an easy experience, but it can be quite fun and thrilling as well.

Betting Strategies

The following strategies cater primarily to sharp punters. Recreational bettors can also use them, but you will need to be very vigilant and monitor your bankroll very carefully. All of these strategies are a bit more difficult to use with NHL bets simply because it is not as popular as the likes of soccer, the NFL, and the NBA, thus there is a higher chance you might get caught by sportsbooks. They can be powerful tools in the hands of the right professional NHL punters, however, and are definitely worth a try so long as you proceed with caution.

NHL Arbitrage Betting

Arbitrage betting, often fondly referred to as arbing, can guarantee you will make a certain profit off of each bet. When you place arbitrage bets, you do so at multiple sportsbooks. You can make both bets at two regular bookies, or place a back and lay bet at a sportsbook and betting exchange, respectively. For this to work, the odds need to be mismatched by just the right amount for you to guarantee that regardless of which wager wins, you will receive more money than your stakes.

Arbing on NHL selections is similar to other forms of arbitrage betting. It is important to remember, however, that overtime and shootouts are fairly common when it comes to NHL games. Thus, you must always make sure that each time you arb, the rules of both sportsbooks in question match perfectly.

For instance, if one bookie includes the overtime but not the shootout, while the other sportsbook does not count overtime and pretty much anything that happens after a match’s regular gameplay has ended, you sure bet will turn into two conventional bets and you will likely lose money from the entire experience. Therefore, be diligent in reading a bookie’s rules and how they proceed when ties and draws occur during regular play.

NHL Matched Betting

Matched betting is another way sharp punters make money, and it does have some resemblances to arbing. The difference between the two strategies lies in what bets they utilize.

While arbing is done with ordinary bets, matched betting requires that one of your bets is a free bet gained from one of the numerous bonuses that sportsbooks offer nowadays. The free bet must be a back wager, while the lay bet can only be placed at a betting exchange. In addition, you could also do something similar with multiple ordinary sportsbooks, i.e., back both outcomes while utilizing a free bet. This practice is called dutching.

Once again, it will do you good to match the bets with sportsbooks that have the same policy regarding NHL draws, overtime and shootouts.

NHL Value Betting

Value betting involves wagering on odds that suggest an event’s probability is lower than it actually is. We will use a coin flip to showcase this phenomenon. A coin toss’ odds are 2.00 because of its 50/50 probability, but at a sportsbook, those odds might reach 2.5 even if the real probability remains unchanged. This means that, in such a situation, you would be getting more money for the same outcome, making the 2.5 odds a value bet.

As for how to find such value opportunities, there are several methods. First, you can do so by relying on your own experience and knowledge as an NHL bettor. In general, wagering based on a team’s current performance is best, and you should also pay special attention to winning or losing streaks. Furthermore, injuries, scheduling advantages or disadvantages, and whether a team is well-rested can, again, be useful and allow you to garner the actual odds and whether or not there is money to be made from a bet.

Of course, this type of assessment can take a lot of time, even for someone well-versed in the ins and outs of NHL betting, which is why you can also try one of the value software solutions available online.

NHL Odds Types

Wagering on the NHL requires a good understanding of what the odds are and how to use them. At most western bookies, you will typically come across decimal and fractional odds. American odds, which are also known as moneyline odds, are also a common option. Regardless, all of them are an integral part of betting, as they dictate how much money you will win or lose by wagering.

Their availability will, in general, depend on the user base of the sportsbook you plan wagering at. Those that cater to a predominantly UK audience will always offer fractional odds, while US-friendly sportsbooks are guaranteed to offer moneyline odds. Anywhere else will typically offer decimal odds as well.

Decimal Odds

The first odds we will focus on are the decimal odds, seeing as they see the most usage worldwide. These odds are often referred to as European odds and for good reason, seeing as the old continent is where they originated from. These odds represent how much you will win if you wager $1, and the overall decimal represents your payout. Calculating said payout is a matter of using a simple formula: Total Payout = Stake x Decimal Odds. If we want to place a $5 bet on the Montreal Canadiens whose odds are 3.0 in an imagined event, this is how it would look like:

$5 x 3.0 = $15 total payout ($10 profit)

Fractional Odds

Fractional odds rival the decimal ones in simplicity. They are not quite as easy to get the hang of at first, but once you are used to them, fractional odds are fairly straightforward. If we examine a fictional example of the Montreal Canadiens’ odds in fractional form, we will see that with odds of 2/1, you get $1 for every $2 you put at stake. The payout will vary depending on your bet, and we can calculate it with the help of this formula:

Total Payout = (Stake x (Numerator/Denominator)) + Stake

(5 x (2/1)) + 5 = 10 + 5 = $15

It is as simple as that. These odds are most favored in their native region of Great Britain. They are not as sought-after outside of the UK, but, all in all, their ease of use means their availability is great nonetheless.

American Odds

Last but not least, you could also give American odds a try, especially if you are from the US. After all, this is the default odds format used on betting websites that are available to American punters. As for how they work, moneyline odds revolve around the favorite and underdog dynamic. First, there is the underdog, which is preceded by a plus. The favorites, however, are shown with a minus. To more easily visualize this, we will use the following fictional listing:

Minnesota Wild: +185
Columbus Blue Jackets: -110

This indicates that if you want to win $100 by wagering on the Blue Jackets, you will need to place a $110 bet. On the other hand, wagering on the underdog means that you will be able to $185 if you place a $100 wager. As established, American punters should definitely become well-acquainted with these odds because of their relevance on US-friendly sports betting websites, and thankfully they are pretty straightforward to make use of.


Although the NHL’s creation was the result of a rocky situation, it quickly outgrew its predecessor substantially and now enjoys stellar popularity on both US and Canadian soil, not to mention the impressive number of international fans who love this league.

At the end of the day, it is easy to see how this league can cater to a wide variety of punters. The fast-paced sport in and of itself ensures that NHL punters will always enjoy their time when they wager on NHL matches, especially when it comes to in-play. Furthermore, the wager types bettors can take advantage of are numerous, and the various techniques and strategies that make it possible to actually make a profit while placing hockey wagers also ensure that there is something for any NHL punter.

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