As the most popular ice hockey league in the world, understanding how to bet on the NHL is a useful starting point for hockey betting. Here’s a guide to the NHL markets Pinnacle offer, which statistical information you can utilise to inform your predictions, and how to identify value in NHL betting markets.
What NHL markets do Pinnacle offer?
Pinnacle offer numerous markets for every NHL match, including:
- Money Line: This is a bet on which team you think will win the match.
- Handicap: This is a bet on whether a team will win the match with a set Handicap. For instance, if you bet on the Tampa Bay Lightning with a -2.5 Handicap, they must win the match by three or more goals for the bet to win. If you bet on them with a +2.5 Handicap, the bet will win as long as they do not lose by three goals or more.
- Total Goals: This is a bet on whether there will be over or under a set number of goals scored in total during the match.
- Team Total Goals: This is a bet on whether a specific team will score over or under a set number of goals during the match.
As NHL matches are comprised of three periods of 20 minutes each, Pinnacle will often also offer Period markets for a specified period of the match. Pinnacle also offer Overtime Included versions of those markets listed above, which means the bet applies to the entire match plus Overtime if it is required.
Pinnacle are also offering the following markets for the NHL 2021/22 season:
- Futures: A bet on which team will win the Stanley Cup, as well as bets on which teams will win the Eastern and Western Conferences, and each of the Atlantic, Central, Metropolitan, and Pacific divisions.
- Regular season points: A bet on whether a specified team will earn over or under a set number of points during the regular season.
How to inform your NHL betting
While assessing the strength of an NHL team obviously involves reviewing their entire line-up, arguably the most important analysis is that of their goaltender. Unlike in other sports such as soccer and basketball, in which attacking players are broadly deemed to be the most capable of deciding the result, the goaltender is widely considered the most important position in ice hockey.
Indeed, teams often win and lose games based on the performance of their goaltender alone. This means there are obvious things to look out for ahead of matches, such as whether a team’s starting goaltender is injured or being rested. If a team has matches on successive days, it is not uncommon for them to field a different goaltender in each fixture.
It is also important to gauge how offence-minded an NHL team’s defencemen are. The more offensive-minded a defence, the more inclined they will be to break out and push forward in an attempt to create scoring opportunities, meaning the team will be more likely to both score and concede goals.
On top of that, you should review the goal and assist stats of a team’s forward line. Some NHL teams will have several players recording similar numbers on this front, perhaps meaning they are better positioned to rotate their line-up throughout the season. Others will have players topping their goal and assist charts by a large margin, indicating they are palpably relied on to lead their attack.
From a tactical perspective, it is also important to consider the concept of ‘lines’, or forwards who play as a group. This is key in NHL betting, as you are never truly betting on any single player to score but the different combinations within a team. Perhaps the most important is a team’s ‘checking line’, which is comprised of more defensively oriented forwards (usually the third line in a formation) who attempt to prevent the opposition’s defensive line from pushing forward.
Lines can be disrupted during ‘power plays’, when a team has fewer skaters as a result of one of their players being consigned to the penalty box due to an infringement. The opposing team can then attempt to capitalise, although certain teams are more proficient at taking advantage of these situations and, as NHL research shows, certain individual players are more dangerous during a power play than others.
Useful resources for NHL betting
Aside from undertaking this research, it is also important to stay on top of breaking information, such as injury news, coaching changes, and draft rumours. As with any other sport, being among the first bettors to react to such information will naturally assist your chances of gaining value from the market. There is a wealth of online resources that can help you in this task:
- NHL: The official NHL website provides a mass of in-depth statistical information and play-by-plays for every match, as well as news on every team, video highlights, and more.
- @NHLPlayerSafety: This is a Twitter account run by the NHL which provides timely information on which players are suspended, what for, and for how long.
- @IneffectiveMath: This Twitter account covers data visualisation and mathematical analysis for the NHL, meaning it is a must-follow for those who enjoy using statistics to inform their predictions.
- @PierreVLeBrun: Pierre LeBrun is the Senior NHL columnist for The Atlantic and is revered for providing insightful analysis, particularly with regards to drafts and trading.
Things to consider with NHL betting
It is important to remember that while you can undertake extensive research ahead of any NHL match, events will not always go to plan. A pertinent example of this was the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins playoff series in 2012.
That year, the average number of goals per game was 5.32 and the average number of penalty minutes per game was 11.21. However, during the first four games of the series, there was an average of 11.25 goals and a total of 70.5 penalty minutes. This caught out bettors and bookmakers alike, illustrating just how action-packed and unpredictable the NHL can be.
Indeed, although informing your predictions to whatever extent possible is inherently useful, there are no easy strategies or perfect formulas when it comes to NHL betting. In today’s NHL markets, match odds are far closer than they used to be, meaning you need to work harder than ever to identify opportunities for value.
However, this does not mean there is not an incentive to do so and it is worth remembering that the NHL is a league in which the supposedly strongest teams frequently lose. Last season, the Colorado Avalanche turned in the best regular season record but still lost 13 games in the process, while eventual Stanley Cup champions the Tampa Bay Lightning lost 17 matches during the regular season.
Get great NHL odds on numerous markets for every game this season with Pinnacle.