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.
So, you want to wager on the sport of ice hockey, eh? You've come to the right place. Let's start with this guide to all things ice hockey betting including a list of the top online sites to use as well as a breakdown of all the things you should consider when betting the ice hockey market.
What are the Most Common Types of Ice Hockey Bets?
The most popular bet in ice hockey is the moneyline wager.
Betting the moneyline in ice hockey is simply a bet on who you think will win the game. There are no more ties in hockey, so a moneyline bet is your pick to win the game outright.
If, say, the New York Rangers are -175 against the visiting Ottawa Senators, those are the moneyline odds. You need to bet $175 and you need the Rangers to win the game to win $100, using the moneyline odds.
The other most popular forms of bets for ice hockey include the puck line, where the oddsmaker assigns a favorite based on a formula of plus or minus 1.5 goals. If you bet on the Rangers at -1.5 goals on the puck line against the Senators, the Rangers need to win by two or more goals for you to win the bet.
Taking the Senators at +1.5 goals means you win if the Senators win the game, or if they lose by only one goal.
Betting the over-under is the other most popular bet in ice hockey.
The oddsmaker will assess how many TOTAL goals scored by both teams in a game. Most of the time, that number will be either 6 or 5.5. If you bet the over on the Rangers-Senators at 6 goals, you need seven goals scored in the game to win, and vice-versa.
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What Should You Consider When Betting Ice Hockey?
Be careful on heavy favorites. Hockey is a sport of parity, by and large. Most games are close, especially in the NHL. Upsets, even in the playoffs, are common, so be careful on large parlays.
Pay attention to lineup changes. It's probably wise to follow hockey beat writers on Twitter. Most of them will post any up-to-the-minute lineup changes, and that's important especially when it comes to goaltenders.
Is a team using the backup for this game? Is the top scorer a late scratch because of the flu? You'll want to know these things before making online bets. Like everything else in this sport, things can move fast.
Learn the schedule. Hockey is a grueling sport, and the players are human. They get tired. If a team is on a long road trip, chances are you're going to want to shy away from them in later games of the trip.
Home teams have a natural advantage in hockey, because they can make the "last change", i.e., road teams have to put their players on the ice first and the home coach can react to that as he sees fit.
Shop around. Seriously consider becoming a member of multiple sportsbooks. While the odds on the over-under are usually the same no matter where you look, the moneyline and puck lines can sometimes vary to significant degrees.
Maybe one book missed that the home team's starting goalie is a late scratch, but another saw it and gives suddenly better odds for a road underdog win? If you're a customer of the faster-reacting bookmaker, you can potentially win bigger money.
Most Bet on Ice Hockey Events
Stanley Cup Finals | The annual, best-of-seven matchup between the NHL's two conference winners. The series is played in 2-2-1-1-1 format, with the team that had the best regular-season record of the two having home-ice advantage.
IIHL World Championships | An annual international tournament since 1920, played at the same time the NHL playoffs are ongoing. Some top players skip this, either because they're tired from the NHL season or because they're still playing in the NHL playoffs.
Winter Olympics | Held every four years, with the next Games coming in 2022, in Beijing. It remains undecided whether NHL players will be allowed to participate.
IIHF Under-20 World Junior Championships | An annual international tournament, known informally as the World Juniors, in late December-early January, 10 top-ranked international teams in round-robin format. Basically, this is a tournament featuring the top amateur players in the world.
World Cup of Hockey | Started in 1996 as the successor to the Canada Cup, it has been held three times (1996, 2004 and 2016). An eight-team, international tournament held in the fall. While nothing is official as of Jan., 2019, it is expected to be held again in 2020.
KHL Championship | A best-of-seven series between the Eastern and Western conference winners. Winner receives the Gagarin Cup.
Memorial Cup | A four-team, round-robin tournament to determine the best major-junior league team. The three winners of their respective leagues (OHL, WHL and QMJHL) play, along with a "host" team from that city.
Spengler Cup | An invitation-only, international tourney held every year in Davos, Switzerland.
Calder Cup | The champion of the American Hockey League. Finals are best-of-seven between the two conference winners.
So What Markets Should You Bet?
You know the moneyline, the puck line and over-under, but what about other types of bets can you make in ice hockey? Plenty. There are lots of "futures" bets you can make, including the ongoing, ever-changing odds for the Stanley Cup winner.
That goes for the KHL, the Worlds, pretty much every league. Before the start of every NHL season, many bookmakers post odds on individual trophy winners.
Do you think Alexander Ovechkin will win the NHL goal-scoring trophy (the Rocket Richard Trophy)? There's a bet for that. Then there is the world of prop bets, in-play betting. These can be almost anything.
Do you think a certain player will score a goal in tonight's game for the Maple Leafs? There are bookmakers who gives odds on that and other goal markets for pretty much every top player on a team in any given game.
Keep in mind: shootout goals do not count for betting purposes for individuals. But, you can bet whether you think a player will score on a shootout goal or not.
Which team will score the first goal? You can make a prop bet on that. You can bet the "grand salami", which is an over-under on the total number of goals scored by ALL NHL games on a given night.
You can expect more prop bet categories to materialize as hockey becomes a bigger part of the sports betting world.
Top Ice Hockey Leagues to Bet On
National Hockey League (U.S. and Canada) - Composed of 31 teams, with a 32nd, Seattle, coming as an expansion franchise in 2021-22.
American Hockey League (U.S and Canada) | 31 teams, primarily the top developmental teams of NHL clubs.
Ontario Hockey League (U.S. and Canada) | 20 teams, 17 in Canada, two in Michigan and one in Pennsylvania. One of three major junior leagues, with players aged 16-21.
Western Hockey League (U.S. and Canada) | 22 teams (17 Canada, five U.S.), the second of three major junior leagues.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (Canada) | 18 teams, the third of the major juniors.
ECHL (U.S and Canada) | 27 teams (25 in U.S.) that is considered one step below the AHL.
Kontinental Hockey League (Russia, Belarus, China, Finland, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Slovakia) | 25 teams, considered the premier professional league outside of the NHL.
Swedish Hockey League (Sweden) | 14 teams, the top pro league in Sweden.
SM-Liiga (Finland) | The top pro league in Finland, 15 teams.
Czech Extraliga (Czech Republic) | 14 teams, top pro league in that country.
Deutsche Eishockey Liga (Germany) | 14 teams, top pro league in that country.
Supreme Hockey League (Russia, Kazakhstan, China) | 27 teams, considered a step below that of the KHL.
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