Updated: October 2019

How to Bet on the NHL

14 May 2019

The NHL, or National Hockey League, is the least popular of the main sports in the United States but there is still a huge opportunity for bettors to make a substantial profit if they know what they’re doing.

Here, we will give you a rundown of how an NHL season works and give you some tips on how to make the most of betting on this sport.


The National Hockey League was founded in 1917 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and is the premier professional Ice Hockey league in the world.

Made up of thirty-one teams, twenty-four in America and seven in Canada, the NHL is split into two conferences. These conferences, the Eastern and the Western, are then further split into two divisions in each conference. The Western conference has the Central and Pacific divisions, with the Eastern Conference made up of the Metropolitan and Atlantic divisions.

Each team will play eighty-two matches during a regular season, with forty-one at home and forty-one played away. At the end of a regular season, the top eight teams from each conference then advance to a knock-out competition where there are Quarter Finals, Semi Finals, and a Conference Final. All these matches are played as a best-of-seven with the first team to win four matches making it through to the next round.

The two Conference winners then play-off in the Stanley Cup Final, a best-of-seven encounter with the team having had the best regular season performance earning home team advantage and hosting the first two matches in the series. Whichever team reaches four wins first is crowned NHL champions and wins the Stanley Cup.

Bet on the NHL

As in most team sports which are played over a season with an overall winner at the end, there are several betting markets available for NHL bettors and vary from match betting to outright markets.

NHL Match Betting

During the season, there will be several betting markets available for every NHL match that is played. These markets include:

Match Result – This is a simple market to explain, although there may be two different markets within the one for NHL matches. Basically, a match result bet is where the punter wagers on which team they think will win.

But, be aware that some match result markets will only stand at the end of regulation time, sixty minutes, and that means there is the possibility of a tied match. The other match result market will include overtime and eliminates the chance of betting on a draw. This market is extremely popular, with more than 1,200 regular season matches played before the play-offs are even thought about.

Correct Score – This market is for those who wish to correctly predict the final score of a match. As mentioned above, there are several opportunities to bet on this market due to the amount of matches played but it is an extremely difficult market to be successful with.
Over/Under Total Goals – If you bet on sports such as football (soccer), you should be familiar with over/under markets. If not, this market is for those who wish to bet on whether there will be over or under a certain amount of goals during an NHL match. If the bettor believes there will be six goals, they will bet over 5.5 but will wager on under 5.5 if they believe there will be five or less goals scored during the match. This market doesn’t require the bettor to predict who will win, just how many goals will be scored during the match.

Puck Line Handicap – This looks like a complicated betting market when you see the name, especially if you aren’t familiar with hockey or the NHL. But, basically, this is the same as a handicap betting market in any other sport. The puck line will be, for example, + 1.5, which means a team will start with a 1.5 goal lead for the purposes of the bet. If they lose by one goal in the actual match, they would still give you a successful bet if you took a punt on them to win in the puck line handicap market. On the other hand, if a team starts on – 1.5 they must win by two goals to give you a winning bet.

NHL Outright Betting

As in any sport played over a season, outright betting is for those who wish to bet on a long-term outcome rather than on every match. Outright betting markets available in the NHL include:

• Stanley Cup Winners – the outright champions after the regular season, best-of-seven knockout play off matches, and the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final.
• Divisional Winners – As already mentioned, the NHL is split into two conferences and that is again split into two to make four divisions. The divisional winners market is for those who wish to bet on which team will finish top of their particular division at the end of the regular season.
• Conference Winners – This market is for punters to bet on which team they believe will go through the regular season, qualify for the play-offs and successfully make it through the knock-out stages to win either the Prince of Wales Trophy, Eastern Conference, or the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl, Western Conference.

Other than match betting or outright betting markets, there is also a special bet available for the NHL which is called “The Grand Salami”. This bet allows punters to have an interest in every match being played on a particular day, by wagering Over/Under a certain number of goals in total across all games.

NHL Betting Tips

Now you know how the NHL works and some of the main betting markets available, here are a few tips to give you the best chance of being successful betting on the NHL.

Study Form and Statistics

More often than not, the best team will win in any sporting match. So, it’s advisable to study form and statistics before placing a bet on an NHL match.

For example, lets say a team on an eight-match winning streak is playing at home, and they haven’t lost at home in their last ten matches, against a team who have lost their last five and have struggled on the road.

The home team are going to be a short priced favourite to win the match, for good reason. The away team will be available at better odds and would provide more profit if they caused an upset and won. But, taking an analytical approach tells you there is really only one outcome from this match and that is a home win.

Because the odds on the home team are so short, you can study stats to look at how many goals they score on average etc. and bet on them in a different market. Maybe you can back them in the puck line handicap at better odds, or back them to win and score over a certain amount of goals as well. Using the knowledge gained through research will allow you to increase your profit potential.

Home Team Advantage

As well as studying form and goal scoring stats, it’s also wise to pay close attention to home and away records.

With each team playing forty-one matches at home and the same number away, it’s pretty easy to find teams who are unbeatable at home or who are better when playing away. Maybe one team has been on a losing streak at home and the extra pressure, and heckling from the fans, means they are struggling to end that streak. But, without the pressure, they perform better on the road.

Shop Around

If you’re new to NHL betting it may be easy for you to just place a bet at the first bookmaker you find odds with, or indeed the online sportsbook you usually bet with. But, it may pay to shop around in order to find the best odds available or special bets that only a particular bookmaker will have.

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