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Explosive ice hockey doesn't just get pulses racing, it's also one of the most in-depth and exciting games to bet on. As with most American sports, there are plenty of widely available stats for punters to use, and more than enough breaks to please the in-play betting crowds.
Ice hockey is also one of the fastest-moving sports around, and the NHL is fiercely competitive, making hard-and-fast predictions tough. That's why a good hockey betting site not only offers competitive prices, but also flexible markets and additional tools to help customers develop a viable strategy.
The first thing to consider is the range of available events on the site. The NHL and the Olympics are obviously online staples, but top betting sites will also include major global leagues like Russia's Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and the Swedish, Czech and Finnish Elite Leagues, among others.
Beginners should be aware, however, that most European leagues are played on larger rinks and have slightly different rules from the NHL. Don't assume strategies that work in one league will definitely work in another.
The main markets in ice hockey are common to most major American sports: Money Line (match winner market), Puck Line (handicap bets offering odds closer to evens) and Game Totals (goals over/under). These are the basics most punters try to predict using data such as form, recent results and a general understanding of players and strategy.
Gamblers interested in number crunching and predicting the ebb and flow of a game may want to dig deeper for alternative markets. In general, the wider the selection, the more there is to explore and exploit, whether you're more skilled at player psychology or cold hard stats.
For example, in the 2013/14 NHL season, 26 of the 30 teams scored an average of 2-3 goals per game. This shows how fine a line there is between victory and defeat, and how tough the money lines can be. On a positive note, it also shows how consistent goal scoring is across the league. So the mathematically minded – or those who favour a low-risk model – may prefer goal markets such as goals per game, goals per period and time of goal to the headline markets.
The bottom line is the next thing to consider when picking a site to use. Key considerations include:
In a game as fast and furious as ice hockey, the temptation is always to go with your gut – particularly as the tempo, gameplay and odds are always shifting. However, a good ice hockey betting site will display a good selection of statistics and, in some cases, even live streaming of games. These can be invaluable in making a rational, rather than a rash, decision.
Useful pre-game statistics include form, goals per game, goals conceded per game, powerplay percentages and penalty kill percentages. During a game, shots, saves and penalty kills become the most important factors at play.
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