With its dynamic pace and frequent physical contact between players, ice hockey has acquired a status of one of the most popular competitive sports in the world. It was first believed the game spread throughout Canada with the help of British and Irish immigrants. Later research suggests a similar game was played by the Mi’kmaq Indians of Nova Scotia as early as the beginning of the 19th century.
Today, ice hockey is one of the most popular contact sports both in terms of participation and viewership, with over one million registered players participating in different leagues worldwide. The sport has a particularly large following in countries like Canada and the United States where millions of viewers flock to their television screens to watch the competitions from the National Hockey League (NHL, est. 1917).
The League presently comprises 31 teams (7 Canadian teams and 24 US ones) but is about to expand after its Board of Governors voted in favor of adding Seattle as the NHL’s 32nd franchise, set to start play during the 2021/2022 season.
It is not surprising that a league with such high rates of viewership is also a favorite of millions of online sports bettors. Some people prefer to wager on NHL events casually for entertainment while others have turned it into a source of steady income.
Becoming a successful NHL online bettor all starts with finding a good sportsbook where you have a broad selection of markets at great prices. Given the huge number of NHL betting sites out there, this is no easy task but Sportingpedia is here to assist you in this venture. If you are interested in learning more about what constitutes a good NHL sportsbook, we suggest you continue reading as we explore all the features of quality NHL betting sites.
Features of NHL Betting Sites
Sportsbooks with a strong focus on NHL tend to offer broad coverage of all franchises and events from the league, with punters having a choice from a huge range of markets and betting types. The interface of a good NHL sportsbook is normally intuitive enough to ensure both inexperienced and seasoned bettors can use it without any trouble.
There is a user-friendly bet slip where punters can add multiple single bets or combine multiple wagers into parlays. Some of the best NHL sportsbooks out there also give you the option to experiment with permutations, which are similar to parlays in that they consist of multiple selections but the difference is you do not need all of them to win in order to receive a payout.
An intuitive bet slip renders it easy for a punter to keep track of their NHL bets since it displays all open bets and parlays along with the settled bets. When interested in a given wager, you simply click on it to add it to the bet slip and enter the amount you intend to wager. The software calculates your potential returns on the basis of your stake and the odds posted by the online sportsbook.
The presence of a live (or in-play) section is an inseparable part of any worthwhile NHL betting site. All the upcoming NHL events along with their starting dates and time are also listed. The best sportsbooks out there commonly feature live-streaming services allowing punters to watch some of the most important NHL competitions on their smartphones or desktop computers.
The live coverage commences shortly before the events start. On the downside, streaming is normally available only to registered punters with funded accounts. Major sportsbooks accepting wagers on the NHL would also offer radio and podcast services where you can listen to live or recorded commentary on hockey games in progress.
As the odds on the live NHL markets are updated in real time, sometimes it happens so that a punter regrets making a specific hockey bet. This is not an issue if you have registered at a sportsbook that supports the early cash-out feature.
It enables you to accept an early payout on your bets before they are officially settled. This is usually the right course of action when there is a change in the circumstances of the event you have bet on. The feature is great because it allows bettors to either increase their profits or minimize their potential losses. It is usually available on specific bet types, with the popular match odds being among the eligible markets.
Suppose you missed out on a given NHL match? This should not be an issue if you have registered at a good sportsbook since there is a good chance you will be able to find the result there. You can also go through comprehensive statistics about the performance of the NHL teams you follow, which improves your chances of making smarter bets.
All worthwhile sites accepting betting action on the NHL offer punters a choice from three different odds formats – the moneyline that is commonly used across North America, the fractional format preferred by bookies and punters from Great Britain, and decimals that are widely used throughout Continental Europe. The default format of the odds normally depends on the country you register from but you can easily tackle the settings and change it to a different one.
Odds Types at NHL Betting Sites
Trusted NHL betting sites that target primarily punters from Canada and the United States tend to use American odds as their default format. Also known as the moneyline, the American odds show you which NHL team is the underdog and which one is the favorite. This format reflects the potential return you can generate with a base bet unit of $100.
The moneyline format uses a negative sign for the favorite and a positive sign for the underdog. Now, let’s consider the following example:
- Pittsburgh Penguins -120
- Carolina Hurricanes +270
Here, the Pittsburgh Penguins are the -120 favorites whereas the Carolina Hurricanes are +270 underdogs. If you back the Penguins, you must invest $120 to earn a payout of $100. If you are rooting for the Carolina Hurricanes and back them with a $100 bet, you collect $270 if they win.
The $100 base bet unit is commonly used for the purposes of simplicity but what happens if you chose a different stake amount, say $20? How do you calculate your expected return? Well, it all depends on whether you are backing the favorite or the underdog.
If you back the favorite, you need to divide 100 by the odds posted by the bookie and then multiply the result by the amount staked. So in this instance, the Pittsburgh Penguins can earn you $16.66 because (100/120) * 20 = 0.83 * 20 = 16.66.
However, when the odds are positive, you figure out your return by multiplying the quoted odds by the stake divided by 100. So a $20 bet on the Carolina Hurricanes at odds of +270 can earn you $54 since +270 * (20/100) = 270 * 0.20 = 54.
Of course, there are fans of the NHL, and hockey as a whole, all around the world, which is why a good sportsbook would support fractional and decimal odds alongside the moneyline odds. Fractional odds are largely considered the most difficult format to work with but they are not as scary as they seem, we promise you that.
The odds in the fractional format are quoted as 5/6, 27/10, 5/1, and so on. The simplest way to get the hang of it would be to interpret this form of odds expression as win/stake ratio. The numerator of the fraction shows you your potential profits whereas its denominator indicates the amount staked.
For example, fractional odds of 5/1 (pronounced five to one) indicate you can win five units for every unit staked. So if you use a unit of $100 and win this bet, you will generate total returns of $600 ($500 in net profits plus your initial $100).
As you have probably noticed, sometimes the numerator of the fraction is smaller than its denominator. Similarly to the negative moneyline odds, this means you need to stake a higher amount than the one you can possibly win. Such is the case with the 5/6 example where you need to risk $600 (with a base unit of $100) to win only $500 in net profits. This usually happens when a given NHL team is a decisive favorite.
All good sportsbooks accepting wagers on NHL events would display the potential returns in the bet slips after you select a bet at given odds and enter the amount you plan to stake. Yet, it is of essential importance to learn to spot whether or not the price you are offered is an accurate reflection of an NHL team’s chances of winning.
The potential returns from a winning bet quoted in fractional odds are not all that difficult to calculate. For the purpose, you divide your stake by the fraction’s denominator, then multiply the result by its numerator, and finally add your stake. It looks like this in the 5/6 example with a $100 stake: [($100/6) * 5] + $100 = $183.33.
However, if you an NHL fan who lacks any previous experience in sports betting, you most likely are looking for simplicity. And this is precisely what decimal odds are all about. They allow you to instantly figure out the value of a wager. To calculate the amount you can win, you only need to multiply the odds by your stake.
Let’s examine the following situation where one bookmaker offers you odds of 2.50 for the Tampa Bay Lighting while the same team is assigned odds of 2.63 on another website. Where should you place your bet? If you back the Florida-based team with $100 at odds of 2.50, you can win $250 ($100 * 2.50) on the first website. The second sportsbook offers you a better deal because you can possibly earn $263 with a $100 bet.
The smaller the decimal number is, the bigger the chances of your bet winning but your profits will be insubstantial. And vice versa. The higher the decimal odds are, the smaller the winning chances but the greater the net profit.
More importantly, keep in mind that the amount you have initially wagered is included in the returns when decimals are used. Thus, a winning bet of $100 at odds of 2.63 earns you $163 in net profits plus your original stake for a total of $263.
The beauty of taking your NHL bets to the internet stems from the fact you are practically carrying a portable sportsbook right in your pocket. One of the distinguishing traits of a good NHL sportsbook is mobile compatibility.
All trusted betting sites work fluently on mobile devices and usually allow you to load the content right in your browser without downloading anything. However, there is often the option to install the sportsbook’s native application on your iOS or Android smartphone if you so choose.
A mobile-compatible sportsbook works the same way as a desktop betting site but offers higher levels of convenience and flexibility. You can choose from a huge range of NHL markets, combine multiple bets into parlays, review your settled wagers, and take advantage of the in-play feature.
Should you suddenly feel the urge to make a bet on a live event, all you need to do is reach in your pocket and pull out your smartphone. On the occasion of not having a sufficient balance to bet with, you can always top up via the sportsbooks’ mobile cashier system where you normally have a choice from a variety of safe payment methods, including e-wallets, cards, online banking, and various prepaid options. Access to customer support is also available on mobile, making it all the more convenient for NHL fans who need assistance.
Common NHL Bet Types
Being the most popular ice hockey league in the world, the NHL allows for a decent variety of bet types fans of the sport can experiment with. If you already have previous experience with betting on NHL franchises in landbased shops, you are off to a good start, especially if you combine this experience with knowledge about the different teams. However, if you are just wading into the vast world of online NHL betting, here is a breakdown of the most commonly available bet types for this sport:
The Moneyline is the best way for an inexperienced NHL bettor to get started. Also known as an outright winner bet, it involves just that – betting on the team you believe will win the game straight up.
One key thing to understand here is that the bigger advantage one franchise has over the other, the smaller the amount the sportsbook will pay for a winning bet. The opposite is true for the underdog – the more a given team is at a disadvantage, the slimmer its odds but the bigger the profit from a winning bet. Another essential trait of the moneyline is that it rarely remains stagnant, i.e. it tends to change (or “move” to use the correct term) depending on who the betting public chooses to back.
The Over/Under is another popular bet type among NHL fans. It is frequently called “totals” since the purpose of the punter here is to correctly predict whether the overall number of goals the two teams score in a certain game will be over or under the number posted by the online bookie. The most common over/under result offered by NHL betting sites is 5.5.
A typical over/under bet for the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Carolina Hurricanes would look something like this:
- Over 5.5 (1.82)
- Under 5.5 (2.00)
The odds for each result are posted in brackets. Similarly to the moneyline, the over/under odds may change.
If it appears the Penguins and the Hurricanes will collectively score more than five goals, the odds (which as you remember reflect the payouts) will shift to increase the return for under bets. In the opposite case, when it seems the two teams are more likely to score fewer than five goals, the odds will change in favor of the over side.
Puck Line bets
Puck Line bets are more suitable for seasoned NHL bettors. This is a form of spread betting (also known as handicapping) where the discrepancy between the abilities of the two franchises is so big that it needs to be artificially balanced out by the bookies. Otherwise, everyone will back only the sure winner and completely ignore the underdog, which is an undesirable outcome for bookmakers.
The odds for puck line bets are quoted like this:
- Vegas Golden Knights -1.5 (2.00)
- New York Rangers +1.5 (1.81)
The puck line resembles the moneyline to a certain extent but there is one major difference between the two. Let’s assume, you are backing the Vegas Golden Knights from the above example. You win the bet if the Knights prevail over the Rangers with more than 1.5 goals.
But since it is impossible to score half a goal, the Knights must win by 2 or more goals in order for your bet to be successful. Respectively, if you are betting on the underdog, the Rangers, and they lose the game by one goal, you will still win the wager.
Proposition bets are another option for NHL fans who wager on the web. Keep in mind these are more advanced wagers which can seriously dent your betting bankroll if you lack knowledge and experience.
The wagers from this category are quite diverse since they are not directly related to the outcome of a hockey game, which makes them all the more difficult to predict correctly. Here are a few examples of NHL proposition bets you can add more excitement to your betting sesh with if your bankroll and know-how allow it:
- which team will score the first goal?
- will a team score a goal during the first quarter?
- which player will score the first goal?
- which of the two teams will score more goals?
Double Chance bets are another way to diversify your experience when betting on the NHL. Here you practically have two ways to collect a payout. For instance, if you make a bet on win-draw, you win if the team you are backing either wins or draws with the opponents. You lose the wager only if your NHL team loses the game.
Outright bets, also known as futures, are another advanced type of NHL wager that is largely available across online sportsbooks. The tricky thing about these wagers is that their outcome is far more difficult to predict because it is resolved in the long-term. Common examples include betting on a team to win the Stanley Cup, on the player you think will win the Hart Trophy or on a team to win the Western NHL Conference.
Another must-have feature of a quality NHL betting site is the availability of in-play markets where bets are accepted throughout the course of the games. Sometimes called in-running or live betting, this format of wagering allows for a much better assessment before you place a bet.
It enables you to watch the NHL action for a while before you decide which team to risk your money on. The bookmakers will move the lines as the events progress, with punters having the option to approve or decline the updated odds.
And the great thing about it is you can experiment with all types of bets on the in-play markets. One thing worth bearing in mind is that sometimes it happens so that a given in-play market gets suspended, i.e. canceled on the occasion of penalties, for example.
Payment Solutions at NHL Betting Sites
Any reputable sportsbook that accepts action on the NHL markets offers a cashier system that supports a decent variety of payment solutions. Of course, the available banking methods are different depending on the sportsbook and the country you are registering from. One example are betting sites friendly to punters from the USA where the most common ways to deposit and withdraw are via prepaid cards, checks, and cryptocurrency.
Punters from countries like the UK, where sports betting legislation is less restrictive, have a much greater variety of banking methods to choose from. They can deposit and withdraw via e-wallets like PayPal, Skrill, ecoPayz, and Neteller but prepaid solutions like Paysafecard and Neosurf are also readily available.
The overwhelming majority of NHL betting sites would also support online-banking gateways like InstaDebit, Trustly, iDEAL, iDebit, Eps, and POLi. Carrier-billing services like those provided by Boku are also an option and so are conventional methods like wire transfers and checks. Check and compare the cashiers of different NHL sites and choose the one that offers trusted methods you are familiar with and supports your local currency.
Security at NHL Betting Sites
Many first-timers who transition from landbased to online NHL betting are concerned about the safety and privacy of their details. This should be nothing to worry about as long as you become a member of a licensed sportsbook that is overseen by a reputable regulatory authority.
Some of the best betting sites in the industry have received their licenses from renowned regulators like the UK Gambling Commission, the Malta Gaming Authority, the Gibraltar Gambling Commission, and the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (if you are based in this state, of course).
The licensing terms such sportsbooks operate under require them to protect their customer base with high-end SSL encryptions and firewalls that stop any hacker attempts at tackling your sensitive information. The information is not revealed to third parties, which enables punters to remain anonymous when backing their favorite NHL teams.
A good sportsbook is one that helps you keep your betting activity in check. This is usually achieved by the option to choose your personal deposit limits, but there are also options for permanent or temporary self-exclusion.
Hallmarks of a Good NHL Betting Site
This section is somewhat of a summary of all we have said so far. So what are the hallmarks of a good NHL sportsbook? First and foremost, you need to look for websites offering you a versatile selection of markets for NHL events, which includes both in-play and pre-match options.
Of course, signing up at a betting site solely for its market diversity is no good if the bookmaker in question offers you subpar odds. These are of no value to you so another thing to look for is competitive prices. The best way to go about it is to shop the lines, i.e. find the best odds for your NHL bets, which helps you maximize your returns. One way to achieve this is by registering at several sportsbooks so you can pick and choose the one offering you the most value for a particular NHL event.
Feature-wise, a decent betting site will support early cash-out, a live streaming service, and a stats section where you can see detailed information on NHL teams’ performance in previous games, on suspended players, penalties, and injuries – all these must be factored in if you want to make an informed wager.
The interface of the sportsbook is also of great importance. If it is not intuitive enough, you will bumble around in confusion, altogether spoiling your experience. It is essential to have intuitive enough interface that simplifies navigation between different sections of the website.
It is highly recommended to pick a site that supports mobile wagering via an in-browser or a downloadable app. This way, you will never have to skip on the best prices on the NHL markets.
Always make sure the websites you punt at are SSL-encrypted and licensed. Having a broader range of e-wallets, cards, prepaid methods, and other payment gateways is always a good thing but you must also ensure the sportsbook processes payouts in a timely manner. Having to wait what seems like ages to get your winnings is a major red flag.
Finally, check the promotions page to see what bonuses and deals the NHL site that has grabbed your attention offers. Promotions like match-deposit bonuses, free bets, parlay insurance, and enhanced odds most definitely can boost your betting budget. However, you must make certain the sportsbook’s generosity does not come at the expense of vague terms and impossible-to-meet requirements.