Ice Cold Profits: A Guide to Betting on NHL

Written by Brian Donovan on 08.12



How to Bet on Hockey: A Comprehensive Guide for NHL Bettors

If you’re a fan of hockey and are interested in sports betting, then learning how to bet on NHL games can be a thrilling and potentially profitable experience.

Hockey fans are passionate about their favorite NHL teams, and betting on games can make the action on the ice even more thrilling. If you’re new to NHL betting or looking to sharpen your skills, this guide is for you. We’ll cover the basics of NHL betting markets, the importance of goaltenders and team dynamics, tips for betting on regular season and playoff games, and how to explore prop bets and live wagering options.

Understanding NHL Betting Markets

Betting on NHL games offers a variety of markets and wager types. To make informed bets, it’s essential to understand each of the main betting markets available:




This is the most straightforward type of bet, where you’re simply betting on which team will win the game. Odds are set by bookmakers and reflect the perceived strength of each team. Favorites will have lower odds (e.g., -150), while underdogs will have higher odds (e.g., +130). In this example, a $150 bet on the favorite would return $100 if they win, while a $100 bet on the underdog would return $130 if they win.

To find out more,  check out our What is a Moneyline bet page.


Puck Line

Similar to a point spread in other sports, the puck line involves a handicap applied to the favorite team. Typically, the favorite is given -1.5 goals, meaning they must win by 2 or more goals for the bet to win. Conversely, the underdog is given +1.5 goals, meaning they can lose by 1 goal or win the game outright for the bet to win. Puck line bets usually have more attractive odds than moneyline bets but require a more precise prediction of the game’s outcome.


Over/Under (Totals)


In an over/under bet, you’re predicting whether the total number of goals scored by both teams will be over or under a specified number set by the bookmaker. For example, if the total is set at 5.5 goals, an over bet wins if there are 6 or more goals scored, while an under bet wins if there are 5 or fewer goals scored. This type of bet requires you to analyze both teams’ offensive and defensive capabilities and consider factors like goaltending and recent form.




Futures bets involve wagering on events that will happen in the future, such as the winner of the Stanley Cup or a specific conference. These bets can be placed before the season starts or during the season, with odds adjusting as the season progresses and teams’ perceived chances of winning change.




A parlay bet involves combining multiple bets into a single wager, with all individual bets needing to win for the parlay to be successful. Parlays offer higher potential payouts than individual bets but come with a greater risk, as a single losing bet will result in the entire parlay being lost.


In-Play Betting 


In-play or live betting allows you to place bets on NHL games after they’ve started. This can provide unique betting opportunities, such as betting on the next team to score or the outcome of a power play. To succeed in live betting, you’ll need to closely watch the game and quickly identify trends and momentum shifts.

In hockey, goaltenders are crucial to a team’s success, and their performance can significantly impact the outcome of a game. When betting on NHL games, it’s essential to research each team’s starting goaltender and their recent form. Here are some key factors to consider when evaluating goaltenders:


  1. Save Percentage (SV%): A goaltender’s save percentage is the ratio of saves made to shots faced, excluding empty net goals. A higher save percentage indicates better performance.
  2. Goals Against Average (GAA): This statistic measures the average number of goals allowed per 60 minutes of play. A lower GAA indicates better performance.
  3. Recent Form: Analyze a goaltender’s performance over their last few games to determine if they are playing at a high level or experiencing a slump.
  4. Injuries and Fatigue: Goaltenders, like all athletes, can be affected by injuries and fatigue. Be aware of any injuries or back-to-back games that may impact a goalie’s performance.
  5. Head-to-Head Matchups: Consider a goaltender’s past performance against the opposing team, as some goalies may have more success against specific opponents.


Team dynamics, such as offensive and defensive capabilities, special teams, and recent form, also play a significant role in determining the outcome of a game. When analyzing team dynamics, consider the following factors:


  1. Offensive Production: Examine a team’s goals per game, shooting percentage, and power-play efficiency to determine their offensive capabilities.
  2. Defensive Strength: Evaluate a team’s goals allowed per game, penalty kill efficiency, and shot-blocking ability to assess their defensive prowess.
  3. Team Depth: Strong teams have depth across all four forward lines and three defensive pairings. Analyze the talent and production throughout a team’s lineup to gauge their overall strength.
  4. Head-to-Head Matchups: Research how teams have performed against each other in recent meetings, as some teams may match up better against specific opponents.
  5. Recent Form: Evaluate a team’s performance over their last few games to identify any trends or momentum shifts that may impact their upcoming game.

Regular Season and Playoff Betting Tips

When betting on regular season NHL games, it’s crucial to consider factors like home-ice advantage, fatigue, and travel schedules. Here are some tips for successful regular season betting:


  1. Home-Ice Advantage: Teams playing on their home ice generally have a better chance of winning, thanks to factors like familiarity with the arena, supportive crowds, and favorable scheduling. Keep home-ice advantage in mind when analyzing NHL games during the regular season.
  2. Fatigue and Travel Schedules: Teams on an extended road trip or playing back-to-back games may struggle due to fatigue and travel-related stress. Be cautious when betting on teams facing these challenges, as their performance may suffer.
  3. Injuries and Lineup Changes: Injuries to key players can significantly impact a team’s performance. Stay informed about injury updates and any lineup changes that may result from players being unavailable.
  4. Divisional and Conference Matchups: Teams within the same division or conference often play each other more frequently, leading to increased familiarity and heightened rivalries. These games can be more competitive and unpredictable, so consider this when placing bets.


During the playoffs, the intensity of the games increases, and teams often tighten up defensively. This can result in lower-scoring games, which can impact your over/under bets. Here are some tips for successful playoff betting:


  1. Defensive Play: As teams focus on minimizing mistakes and protecting their net, games tend to be more defensive and lower-scoring during the playoffs. Adjust your over/under bets accordingly, and consider the defensive strengths of each team when placing wagers.
  2. Injuries and Lineup Changes: Injuries become even more critical during the playoffs, as the loss of a key player can significantly impact a team’s chances of advancing. Stay up-to-date on injury news and be prepared to adjust your bets based on lineup changes.
  3. Momentum and Intangibles: Playoff hockey is often about which team gets hot at the right time. Pay close attention to teams with momentum, as they may be more likely to pull off upsets or go on deep playoff runs.
  4. Goaltending: As previously mentioned, goaltending is crucial in hockey, and it becomes even more important during the playoffs. A hot goalie can steal games and carry a team through a playoff series. Factor in goaltender performance when placing bets during the postseason.


By considering these regular season and playoff betting tips, you can make more informed decisions and increase your chances of success in NHL betting.

Bankroll management is an essential aspect of sports betting, and it is crucial to manage your finances effectively to avoid losing more money than you can afford. Here are some tips for managing your bankroll when betting on hockey:


Set a budget


The first step to managing your bankroll when betting on hockey is to set a budget. Decide on the amount of money you are willing to risk, and only bet what you can afford to lose.


Avoid chasing losses


One of the biggest mistakes that bettors make is chasing losses. If you lose a bet, resist the urge to try and win back your money by placing bigger bets. This is a recipe for disaster and can lead to even bigger losses.


Use a staking plan


A staking plan is a method of betting that involves betting a certain percentage of your bankroll on each bet. This can help you manage your bankroll effectively and avoid making risky bets.


Avoid emotional betting


Betting with your heart instead of your head is a common mistake that bettors make. Avoid letting your emotions cloud your judgement and make sure that you are making logical, informed decisions when placing bets.

The best way to bet on NHL games depends on your personal preferences and betting style. However, some popular NHL bets include moneyline bets, puck line bets, over/under bets, and parlay bets.

Hockey odds are expressed in three different formats: American, decimal, and fractional odds. American odds are expressed in negative or positive numbers, with negative numbers indicating the favorite team and positive numbers indicating the underdog team. Decimal odds are expressed as a decimal number that represents your potential winnings if you bet $1. Fractional odds are expressed as a fraction, with the numerator indicating your potential winnings and the denominator indicating your stake.

To research hockey teams and players, you can check statistics on the NHL’s official website or other sports websites, follow sports media to stay up to date on the latest news and developments, and watch games to gain valuable insights into the teams and players you are betting on.

Written By

Brian Donovan

B-D is a passionate sports writer based in Washington, Maryland. Born and raised in Philadelphia, he grew up cheering on the Eagles and has been a devoted fan ever since...though more so in recent years.


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