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NHL Betting Explained 2024

John Ford | November 14, 2023 | Updated on: May 9th, 2024

nhl betting lines

The National Hockey League (NHL) is the world’s premier ice hockey league. Each season top teams scattered across the North American continent battle to be named best in the league over the course of 1271 matches. Playing hockey involves skill, determination and patience. The same can be said about NHL betting.

With so many games in a season, there are hundreds of opportunities to make money, which is all very exciting. However, you can only make be able to make successful NHL betting picks if you take the time to learn how the activity works. Sure, placing a wager is simple; however, understanding which wager to make on which team and at which time is really what matters.

In our NHL betting guide below, we go through all you need to know to become a successful gambler. Some of the areas we cover include:

  • An explanation of the types of NHL betting lines available
  • A look at how to work out odds
  • Betting tips

We also list some of our favorite NHL online gambling sites so that you can start wagering on league games as soon as you feel comfortable.

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How to Bet on NHL Games

The act of betting on the NHL itself is pretty simple. We have outlined the process below for those who are unfamiliar with the idea of sports betting:

  1. Choose a game to bet on. It can literally be any game.
  2. Pick the type of bet you would like to place. So, do you want to place an NHL 3 way bet? Maybe, a puck line sounds more suitable?
  3. Decide on your stake. General rule of thumb: it should never be more than 10% of your total bankroll.
  4. Confirm you wager.
  5. Wait to see if you win!
nhl betting lines

How to Read NHL Betting Lines

While hockey betting pretty much fits in the mold of betting on any team sport, some of the jargon may appear to be a bit confusing even to experienced bettors. Below we have a look at the lines most popularly available at sportsbooks.

Puck Line Betting

Puck line betting is really is just another form of spread betting, but specifically for hockey. (Think of it as similar to the MLB and run line betting.) Basically, a sportsbook declares a favorite and an underdog and sets a score line they expect the favorite to win by. You can then bet on the favorite to beat the line or the underdog to cover it.

So, how do you read a puck line? Here is an example:

Boston Bruins -1.5

Tampa Bay Lightning +1.5

The above score line has set the Bruins as the favorite to win and the Lightning as the underdogs. With the stated line, the Bruins must beat the Lightning by at least two goals in order for bets on the team to be successful.

However, the Tampa Bay needs to lose the game by less than two goals in order bets on the team to pay out. The total number of goals scored doesn’t matter; the score line could be 4-3 or 5-4. It’s the difference between the two numbers that is looked at.

Ultimately, puck lines attempt to even the odds between two teams that may be unfairly matched, making for better winning opportunities.


Moneylines is what comes to mind for most people when they think of betting. You are simply merely picking the team that you think will win a match. There are two types of moneylines: regular and 3-way. You need to be mindful of this when placing your bet.

So, regular moneylines are simply picking the winner of a match. Every hockey match ends with a winner. The game will go into overtime if it ends in a draw and then to a shootout if it is still a draw after this period.

A 3-way moneyline is only placed on the regular period of a match. So, it gives you three betting options. A win for either team or a draw. It is harder to win these bets, but you’ll notice that the odds are much more rewarding!


Also known as totals, NHL betting statistics show that gamblers who make over/under bets are more likely to win. Over/Unders involve predicting the overall score of the game using the combined number of goals scored by both teams.

So, this bet isn’t concerned with a win or loss but rather whether the total number of goals scored goes over or under the line predicted by the sportsbook. So, betting UNDER 6.5 means that you think that the totals number of goals scored in a game will be less than six. Whereas betting OVER 6.5 means that you believe the total number of goals scored will exceed six.


Futures are bets placed on events set to take place sometime in the future. So, for example, you could bet on the Washington Capitals to win the President’s Trophy at the beginning of the season. Or, you could bet that Sidney Crosby is going to win the Ted Lindsay Award way before the season ends.

The whole gist of this type of bet is that there is sometime before the result will be decided. So, there are long odds on practically every single option, meaning that you could win a lot of money even on a small bet. However, it is this way because these bets are so tricky to get right.


We won’t say that the NHL prop market is quite as extensive as those seen in the NFL or NBA, but there is still a load of these bets available to hockey fans. A prop bet is an event-based bet. It is not focused on the result of the match but instead on an event taking place in the game.

For example, you could bet on Alexander Ovechkin to score a goal in the next Capitals game. It doesn’t matter if they lose the match, as long as Ovi scores a goal at some point, you win.

There are two types of prop bets available: skilled and exotic. Skilled props are based on metrics that could possibly be measured. So, if Ovechkin has scored in 50% of Capitals’ games this season, there is a good chance he could score in the next.

Exotic props are focused on immeasurable events. The most famous example is probably the bet on how long the national anthem will be that many bettors like to place on the Super Bowl. While these are fun bets to place, we don’t recommend that you place too many of them as they are a good way to lose cash.

nhl odds

How NHL Odds Work

So, we’ve noticed that there is a lot of confusion over NHL betting odds. A lot of people simply don’t understand how they work, so they avoid betting on a sport that they know well and could make them lots of money.

However, odds are actually straightforward to read and understand. So, firstly, there are three types of odds systems:

  • American/Moneyline
  • Decimal
  • Fractional

Right now, we are going to focus on explaining the American/Moneyline system because that is a system used at most of the NHL sports betting sites we recommend. But if you want to learn about the others, we have a full odds guide, which dives deep into explaining the differences between each type.

So, when you visit a sportsbook, you will see NHL lines in the following format:

St. Louis Blues -120

New York Islanders +110

To calculate your odds, you need to pay attention to the number and symbol next to the team name. Depending on these two, you will use one of these two formulas to calculate how much you could potentially win:

  • Positive – Odds x (Stake/100)
  • Negative – (100/Odds) x Stake

By performing this calculation, you will learn how much a particular bet could win you. Nowadays, you don’t have to break out a calculator to work out these sums. A sportsbook will do it all for you on your bet slip.
nhl betting tips

Free NHL Betting Tips

Everybody who bets on hockey is trying to craft the best NHL betting strategy that sees more wins than losses. If you are a new sports bettor, here are some general tips to help get you making more successful bets regularly.

Be Flexible with Your Betting Portfolio

Most people don’t really seem to be aware that different betting lines exist for a reason. You aren’t always going to see a profit if you focus on making moneyline bets on favorites. To make a profit regularly, you need to diversify your slip with puck lines, over/unders, and props.

If you don’t do this, you risk losing money on missed opportunities as you won’t identify as many situations in which a sportsbook undervalues outcomes.

Focus on Defense

It is strongly believed that goaltenders make or break a hockey team. If your goaltender is not good at keeping out the goals, then you are more likely to lose games. Often, sportsbook moneyline and spread odds are strongly influenced by which goaltender is starting the matchup.

So, a good example is that Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-André Fleury has not always had a good backup. It is clear that when Fleury does not play, the Golden Knights are more likely to drop games.

If looking at goaltenders is not part of your NHL betting model, you are seriously doing yourself in. It is akin to looking at which pitcher will start in an MLB match.

Look for Line Changes

Many bettors either aren’t aware or tend to forget that lines can change. For example, we mentioned above how vital starting goaltenders are. Well, if a team suddenly makes a change to their lineup, you can bet that the odds are going change to reflect this.

So, you need to be mindful of what the current odds are and whether a change could be possible. You can’t always predict this, but there are times when it is more apparent that this could happen. Think of situations when a team’s star player has been struggling with injuries or players that may soon be fit to play again. Just make sure to watch the lines and take advantage of these shifts.

Follow Tipsters

We want to be clear with what we mean here. We don’t think you should blindly follow the advice of just any person who provides self-proclaimed “NHL expert picks,”. Especially if said person doesn’t offer any reasoning for their decisions. Anyone can create a blog or Twitter account and do this.

However, we still do think that looking at the picks made by other bettors is essential. Having a look at what is going on in an NHL betting forum or Reddit thread can help you get a better understanding of why people are making individual decisions. You could be made aware of something you overlooked or an opportunity to bet against the public, which we get into below.

nhl public betting

Understanding NHL Public Betting: How Trends Work

So, above we recommended that you pay attention to tipsters, we really think that you should be looking at general NHL betting trends too. There is this belief, especially when big games such as the NHL playoffs or Stanley Cup rolls around, that most bettors don’t know what they are doing.

The belief is that most bettors go with their gut as opposed to looking at statistics and facts surrounding the game. If their favorite team is the San Jose Sharks, they will bet on the Sharks to win because of their fandom. Or, if an outfit looks very strong like the Pittsburgh Penguins, they’ll bet on them to win because of the media buzz.

The result of this is that odds at sportsbooks get swayed, and there are more opportunities to make a lot more money than usual. The reason is that the team that should win on paper is drawing in fewer bets than they should.

In general, we don’t blindly suggest betting against the public all the time because we think that while this used to be accurate, it isn’t as factual anymore. A lot of people have become more educated about sports betting, so they put a lot more research into where their money goes.

However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t times where you could benefit from this. So, you always have to watch the lines for opportunities. Especially when the playoffs roll around. After all, who would’ve thought that the 2018-19 President’s Trophy Tampa Bay Lightning squad would’ve been swept in the first round of the playoffs? (Well, a few experts were on the money with that one.)
nhl live betting

NHL Betting Online: Live

NHL live betting introduces more wagering opportunities. You get the chance to bet on games that are in-play. What makes live bets a little more exciting than regular bets is that odds change as the game takes place. So, for example, if one team goes down three goals in the first period, the odds available on each team to win will reflect that.

You get the opportunity to make more money on a bet if you think that the team is able to bring it back and win the game. You are sure to win a significant amount of cash if you use this to your advantage.

While live bets are fun, we caution you not to develop a gambling problem with this style of betting. As results can seem instantaneous, it is easy to get caught up in a system of placing these bets, losing and trying to chase your losses with another bet.

Best NHL Team Guides

Looking to one of the 31 teams in the NHL? Well, here are dedicated team guides that will tell you all you need to know about a team’s current form and whether you should place that future on them.

Eastern Conference

Western Conference

nhl history

Stanley Cup: NHL Futures Betting

Every player dreams of winning the Stanley Cup. Part of the beauty of hockey is that the game isn’t as predictable as other sports, so practically any team has a chance of winning the hockey’s biggest trophy.

In terms of Stanley Cup bets, futures are the most profitable. They provide long odds on a team to win the Cup, and even betting just $100 could see you win thousands. While we don’t think that you should spend too much of your bankroll on Stanley Cup betting, we do believe that you should place at least one educated future on the winner.

You never know which year may be your year to win on a future placed on the winner of the coveted trophy!

stanley cup betting

History of the NHL

The National Hockey League (NHL) has a long history. Formed in 1917, the league acted as a successor to the National Hockey Association and initially featured six teams: the Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs (all of which are still active.)

In the early years, the league had significant competition from a load of different hockey leagues around the United States and Canada. The Stanley Cup was a multi-league competition during this period, so teams from around both countries competed to reign as the dominant hockey team in the North American area.

Although the league had expanded its list of teams during the 1930s, featured teams would only move past the “Original Six” in the mid-1960s, in which six new teams were added to the league. In the years since then, the league’s popularity has only grown tenfold. Now, there are 31 teams in cities across the US and Canada with more to be added soon.

NHL Betting Guide – FAQs

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