Ice hockey is a fast and furious sport, so it's unsurprising that ice hockey betting is just as frantic. But, like many major sports, the stats are gathered in volume and trends are your friends.
The NHL or National Hockey League of the United States and Canada is the most premier hockey league on the planet but other leagues like Russia's KHL or Sweden's SHL get plenty of punter interest. A valuable strategy is crucial when trying to capitalize on the markets available across the top ice hockey betting sites.
During an ice-hockey match, each team has six players on the ice at any one time. The goalie, two defenders and three attackers. During a game, the coach will instigate 'line changes', in which the defensive pairings and offensive trio are switched in response to the opponents tactics; or when they're on a power play (when their opponents are a man down) or are short-handed (when they're a man down).
There's no substitute for knowing the tactics, and it can be crucial for your ice hockey betting strategy. Checking stats on the power play and during a short-handed run can make the difference between a win and a loss. And during regular play, knowing whether a team's 'checking line' (the tough guys) can take out the opposition's 1st line of skillful attackers or not can make a real difference.
One statistic from last year's NHL betting regular season that is particularly informative in developing an ice-hockey betting strategy is the goals per game stat. The top-scoring team, Pittsburgh, scored an average of 3.38 goals per game, and conceded 2.48. At the opposite end of the table, Florida scored on average 2.27 goals per game, and conceded 3.54. Which is interesting on a number of levels.
First of all, it shows just how fine the line between victory and defeat can be in the NHL. That's why the importance of researching form and tactics can't be overemphasised. Secondly, it shows that the total goals per game is relatively consistent throughout the league. So betting on goal markets becomes a reliable way to obtain regular, low returns; or, if you spot the odd team out, a way to pick up surprising value. Last season, for instance, Tampa Bay averaged 3.06 goals/game and 3.06 goals against/game, this above average tally would have been surprisingly lucrative to the right punter.
Knowing the goal stats also opens up a rich selection of markets. Because both teams tend to score, and score in relatively large numbers, online bookies like Betfair offer odds on both teams to score one, two, three, four, five or more goals in a game. That's in addition to goal lines and handicaps, so there's a great chance to develop a detailed, stats-led betting strategy.
Another great stats-led area is the points markets. A player is given a 'point' when he either scores or assists a goal, which is a pretty frequent occurrence. Tampa Bay's 2012/13 NHL season again provides a good example of how to draw value. Top points scorer for that year was Martin St. Louis with 60 points. But his goal tally was just 17. Most of his assists were to second-top points scorer Steven Stamkos, who notched 28 goals and a total points tally of 57 for the year.
The most valuable lesson this duo have to share is that you're never betting on a single player: ice-hockey betting is all about knowing which lines are firing on all cylinders. Spot that and you not only have a route into picking a winner in the outright markets, but in calling goal markets and points hauls racked up each game too.
If you're planning to start betting on ice hockey make sure to check out our handy guide to claiming some free bets!
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