With a sport as fast and furious as ice hockey, casual bettors would be forgiven for thinking in-play betting was too tough a task. In actual fact, it's a matter of understanding the rhythm of the sport and, like all in-play sports, knowing a team's strengths and weaknesses.
The first thing to say about in-play betting in ice hockey is that the pace does make it difficult to bet when you're only armed with stats. A good knowledge of form can be useful with the most basic markets - for example, some teams prove experts at fighting losing battles.
In November/December 2013, the Boston Bruins staged impressive comebacks against Pittsburgh, the Rangers, Carolina and Columbus, giving stats gamblers the ideal opportunity to make good use of the 'money line' for these occasional, big wins. Likewise, the 'game total' markets are fertile ground for regular high or low scoring teams.
Factoring in individual stats can help make decisions too. The one piece of advice on offer here is that bettors shouldn't be blinded by points stats.
A line that's firing on all cylinders is dangerous and worth knowing, but the most important individual stats come from the goaltenders, who can really make a difference. Build their form into decisions on the 'puck line' and goal markets, and there is potential for pure stats players.
For a much better overview of the game, however, it's best to watch them live. That doesn't mean you have to be at the game – some providers allow users to watch most ice hockey matches (including from the NHL) directly from their betting console.
Watching live will help you to gauge momentum shifts and spot strugglers, but the simplest approach, particularly for those who are new to the sport, is to watch for line changes and power plays.
Line changes are important because in ice hockey the lines are the core of the strategy - a team's 'first line' generally contains its most skillful players.
When these guys are on the ice, betting on a goal for a specific team is a much more pressing consideration, particularly if the opposition haven't got their checking line (their tough guys) or their top defensive pairing out against them.
Getting to know which lines perform best in which context can really help net decent wins in more immediate and high reward markets like the next goal or 'race to' markets.
Knowing these discrepancies can be valuable, and shows us that the most productive betting strategies involve both stats and up-to-date match information. The stats are an important backdrop to a live game, and staying in touch with the line changes and penalties opens up some lucrative markets that require quick responses.
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