While the NHL may not have as many fans as other sports, the fans they do have are as dedicated as any other. And the sport has gained popularity in the last ten years that hasn’t been seen since the 1980’s and the Gretzky era. Teams have moved around creating new markets (even in Las Vegas). And in towns like Boston and Chicago, Original 6 teams have been playing well enough to engage a new generation of fans. And what’s good for the league is good for sports bettors.
More coverage. More bets. More accurate odds. This is what sports bettors want and hockey has them now more than ever. These are key to the basics of betting hockey. In order to make good bets worth our time and money we need to know which bets to make and what strategy to use. Let’s look at the best plays you can make and when to make them to create a simple yet effective hockey betting guide.
There are too many bets to play in every sport and that’s why it’s important to identify the best ones. The ones with value. We want to get the biggest payout we can with the least amount of risk. And hockey works much differently than other sports. So let’s look at bets we need to play and to avoid and how they work specifically to hockey.
- The Point Spread – Betting the point spread is usually a solid bet. However, it is a tough one in hockey and should really be avoided. The usual spread is usually -/+ 1.5 goals and that’s a lot of goals in hockey. There is just no value to this bet. Hockey is a low-scoring game with overtimes and shootouts they still have ties. And to make it worse, the odds aren’t even that good. -165 and -185 while playing the point spread is terrible. If you must play it, always take the goals. It won’t pay as well as giving but at least you’ll have them.
- The Moneyline – The moneyline is a much better play in hockey. One of the reason people are drawn to the sport is the promise that anything can happen. And it’s true. Upsets are common. You will be giving up some odds compared to the point spread but not much and that is why the moneyline has value.
- Over/Under – Again, this is an odd bet in hockey. It is a low scoring sport however a lot can happen at the end of a game. Trash time goals, empty netters, anything can happen to muck up your bet and it’s just too risky for the small return.
- Parlays – Parlays will get you plenty of value when played correctly. The more conservative the better with all parlays but especially in hockey. Keep it to two or three teams. The odds we improve themselves to add to your value.
As mentioned, conservative betting is your best option when learning to bet on hockey. The odds are never good enough to take big swings and hit a few long odd games like in other sports. That said, the value in hockey betting is in the fact that the odds don’t make any team a huge favorite at the same time. A favorite in hockey on the moneyline is -300 tops. Not like football or basketball where -1000 favorites are common. Upsets are coming. It’s what keeps the fans interested and it should keep hockey bettors interested too. Be sure to keep these strategies from the guide to betting hockey handy when placing your next hockey bet.
- Top 3 Teams – As the season moves along, the top tier teams will separate themselves from the pack. These are the complete teams. They win at home and on the road. The score as well as they play defense. They are deep at every position and on every line. These teams beat the tough teams and feast on the lesser ones in the league. But most importantly, these teams go on big win streaks. The faster you identify these teams the more you will win.
- Who’s In Net – Goalies in the NHL are much like pitchers in the MLB. Every betting line and spread is set according to which goalies are starting that day. Identifying teams with good goalies will help pick winners. Even the best goalies will have an off night but a good goalie in net every night is a huge advantage. And on the other end, during the long season, teams will find themselves short-handed at the goalie position. Rookies are often called up for emergency starts in the middle of a season. These rookies are usually young and raw and can’t handle the speed of the NHL game. Identify these goalies and bet against them.
- Let’s Fight! – Hockey has an odd tradition of fighting during the games. It is a fast and dangerous sport and there is plenty of opportunity for cheap shots and dirty play. Fighting is allowed in order to let the players police themselves. And these guys do a lot of policing. But a team that fights is a team that wins. Find a team that fights a lot and you’ll have found a team that wins a lot.
- Check the Schedule – As mentioned earlier, the hockey season is a long one. 81 regular season games before the playoffs begin. It’s a tough sport as well. Not missing games and playing through injury is a badge of honor. Three to four games a week takes a toll on even the toughest of players and because of this a team playing in back to back games are often at a disadvantage come game two. Long road trips are part of the season as well and also have an adverse effect on teams. Pay attention to how much a team has played recently before making a bet for or against.
- Injuries – As mentioned before, these guys are tough and although injuries happen all the time, it is tough to keep these guys off the ice. This makes injury reports vague and not very trustworthy. This is, again, due to the danger of the sport. If a player is listed with a left knee injury, guess which part of his body opposing teams are going to target on their checks. Missing a key player with injury can put a team at a significant disadvantage. It is important to know more than just the injury report when finding if a player is missing a game.
- Shoot-Outs – The shoot-out is an aspect of the game added in recent years to eliminate tied regular season games. If a game is tied at the end of regulation play, a five minute 4-on-4 overtime period is played. If the game remains tied, it moves to a shoot-out. Some teams are simply better at shoot-outs than others. It takes a strong goalie to win a shoot-out as well as scorers who can create their own shot and finish at the net. Some teams have it and some don’t. Knowing who these teams are is a nice advantage to have before placing a wager.
Betting on hockey successfully requires some homework. It is a fast but low-scoring sport where every team is beatable on any given night. Finding all of the advantages you can is important to your hockey betting strategy. If you follow the games and learn these tips, you’ll win your bets.
Hockey is so much different than every other sport in every way so why not when laying a bet? Keep these differences in mind because at the end of the day you are looking to find a good bet at the best NHL sportsbooks. Just the basics of betting hockey because the bets have value. You just to know how to spot them.