Although the term puck line might sound alien at first, there is nothing to worry about, since this bet type is actually one of the most tried-and-true wagers in NHL betting. Essentially, this is the point spread, and some sportsbooks even refer to it as the handicap. It has some peculiarities that make it unique to hockey, however.
This bet variation is not all that difficult to get used to and is, in fact, quite straightforward. It is perfect for punters who are new to wagering on the outcomes of NHL games, but seasoned bettors enjoy placing puck line bets as well. You will often have the choice between picking a two-way puck line and a three-way puck line, and the difference between the two lies in whether you want the draw to be a betting option.
Alternate puck lines are also available to those eager to place a bet that has a point spread slightly lower or higher than the typical 1.5. Either way, the experience will be enjoyable.
Key Aspects of NHL Puck Line Betting
The typical puck line consists of a +1.5 bet and a -1.5 bet, and the spread is fairly slim since hockey is a relatively low-scoring sport. The plus and minus symbols indicate which of the teams is considered the favorite and which one is the underdog. When you place a puck line bet, you are wagering that the favorites will either cover the spread or that they will not be able to do so.
In addition, the most commonly offered puck lines feature half points instead of whole numbers. The reasoning behind this is simple and quite clever. A whole number introduces the possibility that the favorite will win by the exact number of the handicap. If the bet in question is a classic two-way puck line, such situations result in what is called a push, i.e., no bettors win, and they all receive their stakes back. As one might imagine, this is not a pleasant experience for the sportsbooks, so the usage of the half point is a simple yet effective way of avoiding these scenarios.
It should also be noted that despite all of this, whole numbers are available from time to time, depending on the bookie. These bets are a bit rare compared to the classic 1.5 puck line, but sportsbooks that offer alternate puck lines do include +/-1 and +/-2 point spreads. Additionally, whole numbers are featured in three-way handicaps.
Two-Way and Three-Way Puck Line Betting
As established, the puck line is a variation of the spread bet, and it is unique to NHL hockey. If you wager on a typical NHL handicap, the point spread will always be 1.5.
The two-way puck line is the traditional option. It offers punters the choice between wagering that one team will win by more than 1.5 goals, or that the other will lose by less than 1.5 points. As you might expect, the former refers to the favorites, while the latter are the underdogs. The following example showcases what such a bet looks like:
- Philadelphia Flyers: +1.5 (1.64)
- Winnipeg Jets: -1.5 (2.30)
From this listing, we can see that the Winnipeg Jets will have to win by two goals or more if those who wager on them are to win. On the other hand, the Philadelphia Flyers’ +1.5 puck line shows that so long as they lose by one point or less, underdog punters will be the winners.
Three-way handicaps are also offered at some sportsbooks, and this option is only available on selections that exclude overtime. This is one such listing:
- Philadelphia Flyers -1 (4.60)
- Draw: -1 (5.00)
- Winnipeg Jets: +1 (1.47)
Here, backing the Philadelphia Flyers means that they will need to win by two or more goals. The Winnipeg Jets, however, must lose by less than 1 point or win for your bet to be successful. If the match ends with the Flyers having won by 1 point exactly, you would win if you had backed the draw option.
Alternate Puck Lines
Apart from ordinary puck lines, there are also the so-called alternate lines you will occasionally come across. These handicap bets allow you to wager on puck lines that are below 1.5 (up to -1) and above 1.5 (up to +2.5).
|NHL Puck Line|
|Philadelphia Flyers||Winnipeg Jets|
|Puck Line||-1.5 (5.00)||+1.5 (1.18)|
|Puck Line 2||-1.0 (3.82)||+1.0 (1.28)|
|Puck Line 3||+1.0 (2.11)||-1.0 (1.28)|
|Puck Line 4||+1.5 (1.70)||-1.5 (2.27)|
|Puck Line 5||+2.0 (1.47)||-2.0 (2.81)|
|Puck Line 6||+2.5 (1.34)||-2.5 (3.36)|
Here, the original puck line is the fourth one, where the Philadelphia Flyers are the underdogs and the Winnipeg Jets are the favorites, and the point spread reflects that. As you can see, however, we now also have an option where the puck lines of the two teams are switched. This means that the Philadelphia Flyers must win by 1.5, and the risk involved with wagering in such a way on the actual underdogs results in very tempting odds.
Puck Line Movement
Line movement is a term we use to describe the way the odds, or the point spread, of a bet, change as a game draws near. It is an integral part of online sports betting, and it is, therefore, something passionate punters must become familiar with if they wish to wager on NHL matches at a higher success rate.
As the reasoning behind these changes, there are several things that can greatly impact when and how line movement will occur. First and foremost, it is often the popularity of a bet that will dictate any possible line updates. A simple example is how recreational punters usually back the favorites regardless of the value of the bet’s odds. This often results in too few wagers on the underdogs and, thus, imbalanced listings. When this happens, sportsbooks simply improve the odds or the puck line of the underdogs.
If a bookie finds itself in an opposite situation where the favorites are overlooked, then similar adjustments are made to deal with this problem. Either way, the main goal is to have even action across all outcomes of a bet.
Apart from demand, line movement can be the result of bookies having acquired new information related to the event. This includes, but is not limited to, player injuries, changes of the starting goaltender of a team, and the like.
As for how you should use this information, there are two things to keep in mind. You should first understand that your timing when placing a bet is important. As we established earlier, the value of a bet can increase significantly thanks to movement of the lines, and it could also worsen quite a bit.
In addition, the way sportsbooks adjust the lines leads to discrepancies between the odds and puck lines from one sportsbook to another. Therefore, there will always be odds and lines that differ in terms of value depending on the bookies you frequent, so line shopping is an integral part of winning handicap bets.
Wagering on the puck line is a favorite of many NHL bettors, and it is not a complicated way to wager on NHL events. Moreover, it allows you to not worry too much about wins and losses if you bet on the underdogs. The team in question can still lose, in fact, and so long as it loses by fewer points than the puck line, your bet will win. This makes the handicap a newbie-friendly wager type.
If you do wish to use your betting skills on NHL handicap betting, you can definitely do so. You can take advantage of alternate puck lines when you deem them beneficial, and the information you gather as part of your pre-game research will always help you in making good wagers. In addition, betting at multiple sportsbooks is, as always, a great way to place puck line bets.
All in all, NHL handicaps tend to enhance the experience of wagering on such a fast-paced sport and are certainly worth trying, no matter your current skill level as a punter.