NHL betting is the most popular form of ice hockey betting across the world. As such, ice hockey bettors can gain much from advanced statistical and tactical research, as well as consuming all the latest available information. Continue reading to learn how to bet on the NHL and identify value in NHL betting markets.
How to bet on the NHL: Basic bet types
Handicap betting is offered when an NHL team is a heavy favourite against their opponents. To even the playing field, bookmakers will offer a handicap on the number of goals in the winning margin.
With this market, you can bet on whether the total amount of goals in a match exceeds a specific figure pitched by the bookmaker (e.g. 4.5). Alternatively, you can bet on the number of goals being less than the given figure.
Total Goals (Overtime betting)
Due to the possibility of overtime in the NHL, Pinnacle also offer a Totals market including overtime betting. This involves the same principle, except that the bet would win both in regulation time and overtime, at less favourable odds.
For more information on the bet types involved in NHL and other leagues, such as the KHL, you can learn the basics of how to bet on ice hockey.
Research teams and players
Unlike other sports such as soccer and basketball, where an attacking player is often seen as the biggest possible game-changer, the goaltender is widely considered the most important position in ice hockey. Indeed, they have been compared to baseball pitchers in the past, such is their influence.
This is a very important consideration with regards to NHL betting and, while a goalkeeper is still important in soccer, handball and similar sports, the goaltender in ice hockey operates with even greater responsibility. Although other positions remain key, games can easily be won and lost based on the quality of a team’s goaltender alone.
In any form of betting, it is important to understand there are no easy strategies or perfect formulas.
As such, one potential factor to aid your NHL betting is watching out for a team resting their starting goaltender during back-to-back games. This is especially prevalent when a team has played the previous night, resting their first-choice goaltender and playing their second choice during a match that takes place the following day.
Just in front of the goaltender, meanwhile, another trend worth noting when learning how to bet on the NHL is that some defencemen are more offensive-minded than others. If this is the case, they will break out quicker and create more offensive moves than their defensive counterparts.
- Read: NHL live betting strategy.
Studying these areas of the NHL will allow bettors to develop a good base of knowledge to approach over/under markets.
The importance of information
As well as researching teams and players, all types of information – be it injury news, coaching changes or draft stories and rumours – are important when dealing with the NHL. Reacting quickly to new information will always aid sports bettors, making Twitter a particularly useful medium. Examples of good NHL accounts to follow on Twitter are:
@NHL – The official Twitter account of the NHL, providing news, videos, live scores and more.
@NHLPlayerSafety – An account dedicated specifically to which players are suspended, what for and for how long.
@TSNBobMcKenzie – Every sport has at least one reporter who has become synonymous with the professional game. For the NHL, it’s Bob McKenzie, whose unrivalled reporting has earned him over 1.5 million followers.
@IneffectiveMath – Data visualisation with a focus on the NHL, this account is perfect for ice hockey analysis and statistics.
@PierreVLeBrun – Another well-respected ice hockey analyst, formerly of ESPN, who now works at The Sports Network.
No ‘easy’ strategies
In any form of betting, it is important to understand there are no easy strategies or perfect formulas. As such, it may be wise to avoid tipsters who claim to possess such knowledge and expertise. In today’s NHL markets, match odds are far closer than they used to be, meaning it is no longer as profitable to simply bet on the underdog.
Conversely, betting strictly on money line favourites, or simply the best teams is inadvisable. Indeed, an NHL team’s price accounts for just how in form they are, while even the best teams may lose over 20 times a season. Most of the common betting strategies are already incorporated into an NHL line.
An unexpected tale - The 2012 playoffs
While statistical analysis and strategic betting will always put an NHL bettor in a good position, it must be noted that events will not always go strictly to plan. A good example of an unexpected NHL betting tale is the Flyers vs. Penguins playoff series in 2012.
Unlike other sports such as soccer and basketball, where an attacking player is often seen as the biggest possible game-changer, the goaltender is widely considered the most important position in ice hockey.
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 Flyers vs. Penguin series, the first four games averaged 11.25 goals and 70.5 penalty minutes. At the time, this caught out bettors and bookmakers alike, illustrating just how action packed the NHL can be.
As this is a one-off example, though, it is equally important not to focus on hindsight bias and over-emphasise its impact or effects. The example merely serves to demonstrate the unpredictable nature of ice hockey.
Checking lines and power plays
Tactics will always play a huge part in team sports like soccer, football and ice hockey. When learning how to bet on the NHL, there are subtle tactical nuances that should be taken into consideration. One of them is a ‘power play.’ This is how a team fares when their opponents have fewer players.
Ultimately, the concept of lines is key in NHL betting, as you are never betting on a single player to score – but the different combinations within a team.
Teams will have fewer skaters if one of their players is given a penalty (and consigned to the penalty box) for an infringement. The opposing team can then capitalise – but some sides will be better at taking advantage of the power play than others. As NHL research shows, there are also individual players who are more dangerous during a power play than others.
In regular play, meanwhile, another useful tactical observation is examining a team’s ‘checking line.’ These are more defensively oriented forwards (usually the third line in a formation) whose job it is to reduce the scoring of the opposition’s first line. Ultimately, the concept of lines is key in NHL betting, as you are never truly betting on any single player to score – but the different combinations within a team.
Now that you have read our ultimate guide on how to bet on the NHL, take advantage of the best NHL odds online with Pinnacle.