Professional sports are an essential part of American culture and society, with the four major disciplines being football, basketball, baseball, and ice hockey. Of these, hockey is the second oldest, and while some teams are more popular than others, millions of Americans visit ice rinks across the country to eagerly support their favorites. Ice hockey is popular in other parts of the world too, where there are strong national and regional tournaments, but none attracts as much interest as the National Hockey League (NHL). Just like the NBA in basketball, the NHL is a dream field for the best hockey players, with only a small fraction of the top names that have competed over the years being Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Jean Beliveau, Mark Messier, and Sidney Crosby.
Due to the extremely fast unfolding of the game, ice hockey is exciting to watch, as long as you are aware of the game rules of course. The start of the NHL season marks the beginning of a long series of matches to watch, so if this is your sport, there will be many hours of fun. Betting on NHL games is a great opportunity to add more excitement to your overall experience. Fortunately, online betting platforms have almost without exception included hockey in their portfolios. Whether you are betting just for entertainment or you are a professional punter, the availability of bookmakers is diverse enough to find an NHL betting level that suits your preferences.
If you plan to start placing NHL bets, we invite you to keep on reading this detailed betting guide prepared by the devoted team of Sporting Pedia. You will have the opportunity to get acquainted with all the essential elements of the sport itself and the various betting markets that you can come across online. We believe the included information about the NHL will be useful to you, no matter if you are a complete rookie in sports betting or have some experience in the field.
Basics of Online NHL Betting
Nowadays, betting on hockey matches is done almost entirely online. The process is quick and relatively easy, and due to NHL’s popularity, punters can choose from a wide range of markets and competitive odds via some of the top sports betting platforms. All online sportsbooks provide the three main bet types – moneyline, spread, and totals, as well as a certain set of NHL player and team proposition bets that may include goal scorers, total team goals, period winners, or exact points at the end of the match. NHL betting odds and lines are not only multiple but also quite specific, which is why we have compiled separate articles later in our NHL betting guide.
In order not to feel insecure when you are about to place your bets, you must first make sure that you know the basic specifics of ice hockey, including how the National Hockey League is organized.
Structure of the NHL
One of the things that makes the NHL a preferred betting event is the presence of a large number of matches due to the long duration of the active season. It is divided mainly into pre-season, regular season, and playoffs for the Stanley Cup. In the regular season, each team plays 82 matches, then the ranking in each of the conferences is settled. The first eight teams in each conference enter the playoffs to finally determine the Stanley Cup champion. Which other league in the world offers more betting opportunities?
Over the years, the number of participating hockey teams has changed several times. The last joins were in 2017 and 2021, by the Vegas Golden Knights and the Seattle Kraken, respectively. Currently, each of the Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central, and Pacific divisions consists of eight teams, so both the Eastern and Western Conferences have sixteen participants.
|Eastern Conference||Western Conference|
|Boston Bruins||Carolina Hurricanes||Arizona Coyotes||Anaheim Ducks|
|Buffalo Sabres||Columbus Blue Jackets||Chicago Blackhawks||Calgary Flames|
|Detroit Red Wings||New Jersey Devils||Colorado Avalanche||Edmonton Oilers|
|Florida Panthers||New York Islanders||Dallas Stars||Los Angeles Kings|
|Montreal Canadiens||New York Rangers||Minnesota Wild||San Jose Sharks|
|Ottawa Senators||Philadelphia Flyers||Nashville Predators||Seattle Kraken|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||Pittsburgh Penguins||St. Louis Blues||Vancouver Canucks|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||Washington Capitals||Winnipeg Jets||Vegas Golden Knights|
NHL All-Star Game
The symbolic halfway point in the regular season is marked by the NHL All-Star Game held either by the end of January or the beginning of February every year. The event first became annually conducted in 1947 and has gone through several format amendments. The last one dates back to 2015 when the NHL announced that the event will no longer comprise one game featuring two teams. Starting in 2016, four All-Star teams based on the league’s Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central, and Pacific divisions compete in a single-elimination tournament. What is specific about the NHL All-Star Game is that matches have no effect on the regular season or playoffs. Participation is voluntary for players and sometimes those who want to avoid any risk of injury back out and get replaced. Probably this is why critics of the event describe it as less exciting than its name suggests.
In addition to bringing together the best players from the National Hockey League, the All-Star game provides avid hockey bettors with some exciting betting opportunities to take advantage of. The NHL All-Star Game Moneyline Bet is the simplest betting market where all you have to do is predict the winner of the relevant game. Each match of the All-Star Game has its individual market that usually looks like this:
|Eastern Conference Game Odds||Western Conference Game Odds|
|Team||Betting Odds||Team||Betting Odds|
Data from the above tables show that the favorites are the Atlantic and Pacific division teams, currently assigned odds of – 125 and – 130. Having in mind the birthplace of ice hockey is the Northern American country of Canada, it is no wonder odds are displayed in the American format by default. If you agree with the oddsmakers and want to back the Atlantic team with your real-money bet, you need to wager $125 to eventually win $100. However, if your research shows the star team of the Metropolitan division has better chances of winning and you put a stake of $100 on that option, in case your prediction is correct, you will enjoy a net profit of $113. In the same way, you can calculate your eventual winnings if you bet on the match between the teams from the Western Conference. Another bet type known from conventional hockey betting is Totals or Over/Under betting. The best thing is that there is more than one total within one game. Depending on the bookie’s policy you may have the opportunity to put your wager on the combined total points of both teams scored either in any of the event’s halves or the match as a whole.
As with regular-season matches, online punters can place prop bets on any of the events from the All-Star Game, with the difference that here variety is greater. You can bet on anything from the player to score the most goals in the semi-final for example to the All-Star Most Valuable Player. To guess the MVP may turn out to be a rather challenging task since, after all, the participants are the best of the best and their skills are, at least in theory, strongly balanced. Speaking of skills, they can also be the subject of wagering. According to a press release by the National Hockey League, the 2022 NHL All-Star Skills competitors set comprised the following awards, each being sponsored by a separate company:
- Fastest Skater
- Save Streak
- Fountain Face-Off
- Hardest Shot
- Breakaway Challenge
- 21 in ’22
- Accuracy Shooting
Of these, the Fountain Face-Off is a new event conducted on the world-famous Fountains of Bellagio. This is undoubtedly a good move to attract more viewers and betting enthusiasts. The event is exceptionally entertaining to watch since organizers have created a real hockey spectacle. Players travel by boat to a kind of “ice rink” and must successfully hit five targets with luminous discs as quickly as possible. The two players with the best time advance to the final for a direct battle. The beautiful lights, the splashing from the fountains, and the inspiring comments of the host of the show contribute to the attractiveness of this first-ever NHL All-Star Skills™ event.
The other new entry is the Las Vegas NHL 21 in ’22™ where five top scorers from different teams compete. They all have the same deck of giant play cards in front of them hanging somewhere on the streets of Las Vegas. The purpose of each participant is to achieve a hand of 21 without going bust, with as few shots as possible, of course. Diehard NHL fans probably look at such events with a certain amount of contempt, but from the point of view of organizers and top bookmakers, they are a means to achieve greater viewership and revenue. It remains to be seen if this out-of-the-box approach will be adopted by the next NHL All-Star Game host cities.
NHL Betting Strategies
Even if you think that betting on hockey, and in particular on the NHL, is not that difficult, you should not rush to make real-money bets. If you do not believe us, ask any experienced bettor for a first-hand opinion. It does not matter if you prefer to bet on the NHL just from time to time for fun, or the leading incentive is the eventual profit. The formation of some good habits and more importantly, strictly following them will undoubtedly contribute to better results.
Proper handling of statistical information
As with other sports such as football, exploring statistics is crucial when making your predictions. However, you must be careful not to overestimate the wrong statistics. Needless to say, the most important thing to check when working with statistics is whether they are correct. This does not mean that you have to verify with a calculator every number you come across over the Internet. Just make sure you only consult reputable and time-tested sources of information. There are many data sites for which there is positive feedback on the accuracy of the data contained. No one ever deserves 100% trust though, so we advise you to double check from time to time, just in case.
The accuracy of statistics alone is not enough for you to benefit from the relevant information. The Internet is a sea of facts that, while true, have nothing to do with the end result of a certain NHL game. How will it help if you know that the Philadelphia Flyers have won their last five games played on odd dates, for example? If they have defeated their respective rival the last 2 times when the squads faced each other, it is a completely different story. If you are not sure whether a certain fact should be taken into consideration or not, ask yourself if it can have a direct effect on the game. A couple of additional minutes to assess the stats will help you make a well-founded decision on how to proceed.
Taking into Account Teams’ Travel Schedule
In a physically demanding sport like ice hockey, many factors can affect the condition of the team. To our surprise, travel schedules are often mistakenly disregarded by betting devotees, if taken into consideration at all. They have an impact on other sports too, but in a discipline like hockey where the bodies of players are beaten and bruised each game, recovery time is of the utmost importance. The United States is a country where distances are huge and it not only takes hours to get from one city to another, but sometimes you even have to change time zones. Yes, hockey players are well-trained athletes and are resistant to physical stress, but such a load inevitably affects their organisms.
This indicator could downplay the statistics to some extent. Here is what we mean – statistical data may show Philadelphia Flyers have a better position in the current standings and more victories in direct matches. Imagine, however, they have had three road games within the preceding week while their rival has played two home matches. In this case, you have to carefully compare the overall skills of both teams and then assess whether they are able to compensate for the lack of freshness. It is important to check the travel schedule of hockey teams, but keep in mind that just because one of them is tired or on a long journey does not necessarily mean that they will lose. Certainly, players will not be as fresh, which can affect their speed, power, and endurance. It depends on your knowledge whether you will correctly determine the significance of this indicator.
As with the handling of statistics, our advice here is to take the hockey players’ traveling into account, but not allow it to dominate your NHL betting strategy.
Looking for Value Bets
It is time to dive deep into the world of NHL betting. No matter how important the elements of a successful betting strategy discussed so far are, they will not help you profit in the long run if you do not learn how to practice NHL value betting. Determining correctly the chances of an NHL team to win and comparing those chances with the odds provided by online bookmakers are the two actions on which this strategy is based. What is essential here is not the ratio between the number of your wins and losses but what their value is. For instance, if you place a significant stake on a betting market that comes with high odds and your prediction is accurate, the bet can recoup for a couple of minor failures.
NHL betting enthusiasts should not only rely on published odds but also make their own predictions about the likelihood of a particular event. It takes time, but it is worth the effort because once you have mastered this operation, you will be able to spot hockey matchups where the probability of an outcome is higher than the betting odds show. Sometimes such a juncture seems unlikely but the constant search for such opportunities, and especially using them, will undoubtedly bring you a good profit.
Why Online NHL Betting Is Beneficial
Online NHL betting gives fans another way to get involved in their favorite sport. The more engaged a user feels, the more interested he is and the more he watches. The online gambling industry has evolved significantly in recent years and now provides punters with many more benefits and conveniences than in the past. The high level of competition forces operators to constantly strive to improve the services they provide in an attempt to make them more attractive to sports betting enthusiasts.
It goes without saying that online betting on NHL games comes with great convenience, an indicator that is highly valued in today’s fast-paced world. When your free time is limited, being able to perform your favorite pastime almost immediately without wasting time is especially enjoyable. For the popularity of online gambling in general, the rapid development of mobile technology has played a big role. With your mobile device, you can now fund your betting account and place bets on National Hockey League games, no matter if you are at home, traveling to work, or on vacation.
No matter ice hockey is among the sports with the most prolonged history and its rules and specifics have long been known by betting experts, bookmakers are rarely unanimous on the true probability of events. This is especially true for the NHL, which hosts teams made up of the best players in the world. Different assessments sometimes result in quite differing odds of winning.
|Vegas Golden Knights||Vancouver Canucks|
Due to the fact the whole process of betting is conducted via the Internet, online punters are enabled to quickly compare numbers and place their bets with the bookie offering the most profitable odds. You can do this either by keeping an eye on several trusted sportsbooks or through one of the multiple info websites that do the research for you and provide the information ready to use. Although sometimes the odds difference does not seem so significant, things are different if we look at them in the long run. Adding $115 to your bankroll instead of $108 (Vancouver Canucks odds from the above table) may not be the deal of your life, but imagine if a similar trend is present in your subsequent bets.
The fact that NHL fans can take advantage of various bonuses while betting online is another argument in favor of virtual hockey betting. As competition between online sportsbooks is fierce, it’s no surprise that operators are using a variety of promotional offers to attract as many National Hockey League fans as possible. In addition to the welcome bonus we all know, hockey devotees can also enjoy various money-back bonuses, as well as loyalty programs that reward them depending on their betting activity. Some bookmakers go even further and provide their patrons with exclusive enhanced odds on specific games.
As we promised, in this introductory part of our NHL betting guide, we presented to you the bare bones of online betting on games from the National Hockey League. However, this is just the beginning. In order to provide you with the greatest possible amount of information, thanks to which you can safely embark on your journey in the depths of hockey betting, we have prepared separate comprehensive articles on NHL odds and lines, popular bet types, and the specifics of in-play wagering. All forms of gambling carry a certain amount of risk, but the more educated you are, the more likely you are to eliminate it.