NHL Betting Explained: Tips for Beginners

Daniel Collins

Written by: Daniel Collins

Last Updated:

Read Time: 5 minutes

The National Hockey League is the most popular professional ice hockey league in the world. The league has players from around the globe, increasing it’s international audience. As a result, we have an increase in bets placed on NHL games.

The Montreal Canadiens have won 24 Stanley cups, which makes them the most successful franchise in the NHL. The Toronto Maple Leaf comes up next with a total of 13 Stanley Cups and the Detroit Red Wings franchise with 11 Stanley Cup championships to their name.

What NHL Bets Can I Place?

There are several different types of NHL bets available to bettors. Let’s break them down.

With nearly every other sport, you can easily bet on the moneyline (ML), the total or over/under, and the spread, which is referred to as the puckline (PL). The PL is normally -1.5 for every game, with the oddsmakers adjusting the actual odds instead of the number in such a low scoring affair.

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The types of betting you can participate in for individual games include:

Money Line

This one is easy. Betting a team’s ML is simply betting on them to win the game. Now, tricks or gimmicks, all they have to do is win the game. However, the ML is represented by the odds is pays out. You might see the Boston Bruins ML at -200, against the New York Islanders whose ML is +150. The Islanders are the underdog, therefore there is a bigger payout for them to win the game.

Puck Line

The puckline is similar to betting against the spread. As I said, the PL is typically -1.5, with the odds continuously adjusted. This means you are betting on the favorite to win by 2 or more goals, or betting on the underdog to win or keep it within one goal. There are rare occasions where you see a PL be listed at -2.5, but those are extreme cases.

The puckline is the NHL’s version of a spread, just like the MLB’s version is the runline (RL).

Over/Under (Total)

This one is also fairly easy to understand. You are simply betting on the total amount of goals combined between the two teams. That’s it. For NHL games, most totals are in the 5.5 to 6.5 range, but you will occasionally see a 7 with two bad goalies and good offenses.

With Over/Unders, you can also bet these by period. For example, over or under 1.5 goals in the 1st period specifically.

60 Minute ML (Win in Regulation)

The 60 minute ML could also be referred to as the 3-way ML or “In Regulation”. You are betting on your team to win the game, and to do so without overtime. We know that regular season NHL games go into overtime if tied after regulation, where there is a 5 minute golden goal period, followed by a shootout if needed.

The odds are more favorable than the standard ML, because a regular ML in the NHL includes overtime. The 60 minute ML includes the option to draw, thus improving the odds.

Team Total

Here you are betting on a specific team to score over or under a certain amount of goals, hence the “team total”. These could ranges from 1.5 all the way to 4.5 typically depending on the matchup.

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Player Props

There are a multitude of statistical categories that you can bet on for NHL player props. Here are just a few of them.

  • Anytime Goal Scorer
  • Anytime Assist
  • Points
  • Shots on Goal
  • Blocked Shots
  • Goalie Saves
  • PowerPlay Points

The list truly goes on and on.

How to Pick the Best Sportsbooks

Live Betting

Bettors want to control their gaming experience, and this includes being able to place a bet based on occurrences happening in a live game. So, the best sportsbooks would typically allow live betting. Live betting is a feature on sportsbooks that enables the player to place a bet on a game even while the game is still ongoing. This feature is also known as in-play.


Promotions have overtime been seen as a big determinant in getting bettors to use a sportsbook. There are various promotions available on sportsbooks like a sign-up bonus, referral bonus, deposit bonus. Bonuses are not exclusive and can differ widely according to the sportsbook and brand. There are several types, and they boost your desire to play. When choosing a sportsbook, bettors are to consider the promotions.


Make sure the sportsbook you choose is highly rated. It’s like choosing a restaurant; you should get to know what other users think of it. Consider reviews, news, and ratings. Consider whether the sportsbook has outstanding qualities, average, or poor, then decide whether you can deal with that. From terrible customer service to quick payouts, find out what the betting public thinks of that sportsbook before you choose to bet with them.

NHL Strategy and Tips

Know how to read odds

One of the best NHL betting tips, like in other sports, is learning to read the odds. Odds may seem like just numbers to sports betting newbies, but these numbers mean a lot because they can give you an idea of your betting return.

Let us take the odds below as an example:

Penguins of Pittsburgh -150

Flyers to Philadelphia +130

The odds here indicate that the favorite of the match is the Penguins, as depicted by the minus sign (-). In the same game, as indicated by the plus sign (+), the Flyers are the underdog. If a bettor stakes $100 on the Penguins and they win, the bettor will get a net return of $50. If the bettor stakes on the Flyers and they win, on the other hand, the bettor earns $130 from the wager of $100.

Be Disciplined

This might be the most crucial tip for NHL betting, particularly if you are new to it. Big wins are thrilling, but you can’t play for a big win ALL the time. As a strategy, try not to stake more than 2% of your deposit. As a way to make up for your losses, you should also be cautious of progressive betting. If you can bet big, then do that by all means. However, if you cannot, leave the high stakes to the real high stake players. Bet responsibly.