Looking to get more bang for your puck? The key to a successful ice hockey betting strategy is an understanding of the available markets, and the willingness to put in some in-depth research. You can bet on the outright winner, the correct score and the total number of goals. Less familiar will be the 'points spread' bet, where one team has to win by a certain number of goals, and the 'Grand Salami', where a punter predicts the overall number of goals in a given number of games, usually taking place on the same weekend.
The 'trend is your friend' mantra really does apply to ice hockey: there's no substitute for studying the stats. How good is your team's checking line defence? How well does your team take advantage of power plays? Keep an eye on the goals per game stat; recognising a team with a relatively consistent record when it comes to goals scored and conceded can prove a lucrative insight.
The biggest market for ice hockey is, of course, North America’s NHL, which is comprised of 23 teams from the US and an additional seven from Canada. As well as individual matches, bets can be placed on the eventual winner of the four different divisions: central, pacific, atlantic, and metropolitan. There are also the outcomes of the eastern and western conferences to gamble on, as well as the coveted Stanley Cup. If punters want to have a widespread bet on who will collect the Stanley Cup, they don't have to pick an individual team, but can choose which of the four divisions or two conferences the eventual winner will hail from. Understandably, the odds on this are substantially shorter than when selecting an individual team.
A key advantage to ice hockey betting is that there are several games in quick succession, allowing the experienced gambler to profit from a team's busy schedule. Teams can play back-to-back matches, travelling long distances, often with long runs of away fixtures, and this can result in tired performances after a couple of weeks - making the NHL betting markets potentially lucrative.
What’s more, ice hockey matches can’t be tied, meaning there are no accumulator-busting draws when betting on the NHL. At the end of 60 minutes, the match is decided by overtime and a shootout, so NHL outright match betting, known as "Money Line" betting, only has two possible outcomes.
Ice hockey also lends itself to handicap betting, with a handicap of -1.5 goals making a regular appearance on the experienced gambler's betting sheet. Odds for outright winners can be quite short, but handicap betting, often referred to as "Puck Line" betting, usually offers much longer odds.
You'll also find a number of big wins throughout the ice hockey season, with teams reluctant to sit back and try to defend leads, following the mantra that the best form of defence is a good offence. As a result, another popular ice hockey betting option is the over/under 5.5 goals market. This can bring in considerable rewards if you do your research on which teams tend to score or concede goals.
While ice hockey is primarily associated with the USA and Canada, the sport's popularity has increased dramatically in Europe with the advent of the Champions Hockey League. This event, with its inaugural competition taking place in 2014, features 26 clubs from six different leagues. It's raising the profile of the game like never before.
As well as this brand new championship, you can also place bets on the outcome of the individual European leagues, including the Czech Extraliga, Denmark’s Metal Ligaen, Finland’s Hockey Liiga and the German DEL. As well established competitions, odds tend to sway heavily in favour of the previous year's winner. This is also true of the annual Ice Hockey World Championship event.
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