With division, conference and even century-old rivalries, the drama offered by the National Hockey League strikes a personal chord with ice hockey betting fans of all experience levels. Teams physically punish each other almost nightly over an 82-season With featuring 24 U.S. clubs and seven from Canada. The All-Star Game and playoffs offer even more excitement as their grueling seven-game format does an excellent job removing much doubt that the two best teams at the time face each other at the end of the season.
Moneylines offered at the top ice hockey betting sites are based on positive and negative figures and indicate how much money a bettor must wager to win C$100, or how much a C$100 bet would win.
Negative numbers indicate how much bettors must play to win C$100.
Example: If the money line for Washington is -140, a C$140 bet is required to win C$100.
Positive numbers indicate the winnings from a C$100 bet.
Example: If Toronto has a money line of +160, a successful C$100 bet would yield C$160. Calculate winnings on different bet amounts by scaling the figure up or down proportionally, remaining cognizant of whether the number is positive or negative.
Puck lines are a means of augmenting a money line bet and are similar to point spreads. In this system, the favorite must win by 1.5 goals or the underdog keep the score within that same range.
Example: If the money line for Washington is -140, a +1.5 puck line bet requires the Capitals to win by at least two (the decimal assures no ties). If Toronto is the underdog at +160, a -1.5 puck line bet requires the Maple Leafs to keep the score within that amount of goals of the Caps.
Betting the totals involves venturing on how many goals will be scored in a single game by both teams combined. If the Over/Under for the Washington-Toronto game is at 6.0, the bet would be whether the teams reach that figure combined.
Futures bets involve season-long goals for both teams and players. These can be bets on whether a team will win the Stanley Cup, the Eastern or Western Conference Championship, their division title or enough games to simply make the playoffs.
Bets can also be made on whether players will win a variety of annual awards, such as the Hart Memorial Trophy for MVP, Vezina Trophy awarded to the best goalie, Art Ross Trophy for top point scorer, Rocket Richard Trophy for top goal scorer and the Calder Memorial Trophy given to the best rookie, or if they reach certain statistical milestones.
The odds for these long-term goals shift nearly every day, so timing is everything when placing bets. These bets also make for long-term entertainment for casual fans, with the potential for a long-term payoff for early faith (or smarts).
While hockey appears to be a rudimentary game – score puck, save puck, wallop the other team – deep intricacies affect outcomes of games and therefore wagers. Injuries are a constant variable in all sports, but the wear and tear of such a quick and physical game requires constant monitoring by a bettor seeking consistency.
A key contributor becoming a late-afternoon scratch – when players don’t dress for a game because of the coach’s decision – can completely alter betting lines and outcomes.
Timing and knowledge of where a team is in its schedule can play a big role in determining the best teams to bet on in a particular matchup. Teams often engage in extended road trips and these can either help or hurt their chances depending on how they characteristically react to these trips. For some teams, road trips are a slog and they get brought down by the travel across time zones.
Jet lag is often documented as teams fly back and forth from the East to West Coast. Teams playing on consecutive days, particularly in different cities, are vulnerable, not only because they are tired, but because they often will utilize a backup goaltender once.
Be cognizant that coaches will often set up their top goalie against the best team they play in a bookend situation, which could affect what would be the expected puck line.
Other teams use the added adversity of road trips as a chance to focus and bond as a unit and sometimes even play better away from home than in front of their own fans. While days off are often ideal for such a physical sport, there are times when every NHL team must play on two days in a row.
‘Original Six’ rivalries exist among the six teams that made up the NHL between 1942 and 1967. The Montreal Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings and the New York Rangers were founded between 1909 and 1926 and therefore have established nearly 100 years of history together, which is plenty of time to brew some dislike.
The Bruins, Canadiens and Maple Leafs, in particular, bring a lot of animosity into most meetings, making them fun to bet. There's definite knowledge that the best of both teams will be on display when any of these six are slated to play each other.
Some of the best more recent rivalries to bet include the Pittsburgh Penguins and Capitals and the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues. Regional and instate rivalries such as the Battle for Ontario between the Leafs and Ottawa Senators, the New York Islanders vs. Rangers, Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings and the Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers are all especially heated.
A game of hockey is played over three 20-minute periods, so betting within those parameters can be an entertaining way to bet, reassess, and try another strategy. It is therefore beneficial to know whether a team excels in a particular period in terms of scoring or has a good record when leading or trailing after a specific point in the game. Goalies will have much to do with this analysis.
Any team would prefer to score early and often and clamp down for the rest of the game, but few are able. Study their trends. Numbers will present a picture of mindset and patterns.
One of the most important aspects of hockey to understand is the way a team's lines match up against its opposition that particular night. This is a more in-depth way to view the game that results in making smarter picks. Offensive lines involve three players, a center and two wings, while defensive pairings involve the two defensemen on the ice accompanying them.
There are often four different offensive lines and three defensive pairings and coaches will often shift them throughout the season and playoffs to get the most out of their teams and capitalize on mismatches. Some lines, known as checking lines, are defensive-based and meant to slow down a particularly deadly line. These lines can change at any moment depending on matchup, health or performance.
Since playing an entire 60 minutes is impossible, there are no guarantees that the top scorers on a team will all be on the same line. A coach may split up his most gifted players to make his team deeper. Familiarity among linemates brings crucial chemistry throughout the season as a line's chemistry can make all the difference in a team's season.
One unique statistical category to hockey that often provides distinct advantages are teams' power plays and penalty kill percentages. When a player commits a rules infraction during a game, he is sent to the penalty box for either two of five minutes depending on the severity of the infraction.
This results in a 5-on-4 advantage for the other team, known as a power play, while the other team's shorthanded "penalty kill" unit attempts to defensively thwart the opponent.
Mastery in either field plays a big factor over the ebb and flow of a game as either scoring on a power play or coming up with a successful kill are often referred to as key momentum-shifting moments.
Past truisms have been challenged in recent Stanley Cup Playoffs. While home-ice advantage was once a prime determiner of success, road teams have begun to negate those norms. The 2018 Stanley Cup champion Capitals lost the first two games of their first-round series against Columbus at home and won the next four games to advance.
While teams that had played together for seasons were supposed to possess the proper resolve for a postseason grind, the Vegas Golden Knights became the first expansion team to advance to the Cup final in 2018, falling to the Caps in six games.
Twenty-eight teams have come back from 3-1 or 3-0 deficits to win series, with 26 of those comebacks occurring since 1987, and seven since 2010. In that year, the Flyers became the first team to come back from a 3-0 deficit, doing so against the Bruins in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The feat was repeated by the Kings against the San Jose Sharks in 2014.
Even being the best team in the league, statistically, does not carry a distinct advantage in the NHL. The postseason is such a travail that even teams that end the season as the odds-on favorite have lost in recent years early and often.
The team with the most points in both conferences wins the Presidents Trophy and is viewed as the "champion" in a sense of the regular season. But since the 2002-2003 season, only two winners of that trophy have won the Stanley Cup.
The Presidents’ Trophy winner was eliminated in the first round four times from the 2005-2006 season through 2011-2012. No winner of the hardware has advanced past the second round (as of 2018) since the Chicago Blackhawks won the Cup in 2012-2013.
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