Hockey is more of a niche sport in the United States, but it is massively popular in places like Canada and Europe. The NHL has started to work on its international exposure with a series of games held outside North America, and that in combination with the number of international players in the league today has helped move the sport in the right direction.
Despite the game not being too popular in the States, there is still a full complement of gambling options for fans of the NHL, and smart bettors can find some great value in the odds at some online sites. We are going to take a look at what makes a great NHL Betting Site, as well as providing you with some recommendations of sites you may want to give a shot.
What Makes A Good NHL Betting Site?
Now, when it comes to a sportsbook that offers NHL betting, we do a little more research than for the other North American Sports.
The game isn’t the top priority for many oddsmakers, which means that some sites will have better value than others when it comes to each individual bet. Regardless, there are some common traits we look for in an excellent site. Here are just a few of your information:
- Types of Odds
- Live Streaming
- Live Betting
- Future Betting
Types of Odds available
The two common odds for hockey are the money line (which team will win the game outright) and the puck line (by how many goals will a team win or lose). Depending on how much you know about a game leading into the puck drop, you may be able to find some value in these odds, but only if they are easy to find. The best sites have the NHL front and center for you to be able to find these game odds, along with the over/under bet on the total score.
One issue that has faced the NHL, especially in the United States, is the lack of a television contract that covers all the games. Yes, the majority of games can be found on some specialty channels, but on the main networks, there is little or no coverage. We look for sites that give you an option to stream the game you are betting on so you can be closer to the action, which, as you will see, is important for other reasons.
Live Streaming of games and in-game betting go hand in hand. The games take about 2.5 hours to complete, and during that time the odds of one team or another change dramatically. You may have a hunch about a team’s ability to come back and win a game they are losing, in which case finding a site that offers live odds on that result is important. We look for sites that update their Live Betting odds the most often, giving you the best chance to capitalize on a particular wager.
Maybe you don’t agree with what the experts say when making their preseason predictions, and you want to make a bet on how many games a team will win in a season. The concept of Future Betting is for you in this case, and before the start of a season (and also sometimes during a season), you can bet on outcomes that will happen in the future. This can include who will win each conference or the Stanley Cup, as well as betting on who will take home the major individual awards at the end of the season. These bets take a few months to come in, but savvy gamblers can find some fantastic odds on these if you look in the right places.
Basic NHL Betting Strategy
While there are many professional hockey leagues around the world, we are focused on the National Hockey League as this is the top league for the quality of talent and competition. There are 31 teams in the league, and each has a full set of 25 players on a roster. That’s the easy stuff – where it gets tricky is trying to find value in a regular season that is 82 games long. Our team of hockey experts has come up with the following five tips that should help any hockey bettor, regardless of skill level.
- Look at the schedule
As soon as the schedule for the season is released, you should be looking at each team individually. If you look closely enough, you will find some value. For example, every East Coast team goes on an extended West Coast swing to limit travel, but that typically means being away for up to a week at a time. This can really affect a team’s fatigue, and that leads to some great betting opportunities. The schedule offers other quirks as well – the Chicago Blackhawks have to leave their home for two weeks when the circus comes to town as an example – and doing your research can put you on the lookout for lines on certain games.
- Watch out for the empty net
There are two types of betting lines for hockey – the money line (who will win the game) and the puck line (the spread). Typically you get much better odds for laying goals on the puck line, and even though you may think there is some extra value there, you have to be wary of a late-game empty net goal. When a team is losing at the end of a game, they tend to remove their goaltender for another skater to gain an advantage in the offensive zone. However, this leaves their net empty and vulnerable to an easy goal, which can kill a puck line. These empty net situations are growing in time, as some teams now pull their goaltender with several minutes left if they are down by two goals. This can also have a detrimental effect on the total number of goals scored in a game….which can be deadly for some gamblers.
- Watch for who is playing net
When you look at the NHL schedule, you need to keep track of when teams are playing on back-to-back nights. In these situations, it is highly likely that one of the games will be started by the backup goaltender. These goalies, who typically only play a handful of games during a season, are obviously going to be a bit rusty and they aren’t good enough to be the team’s starting goaltender. With that in mind, you may want to adjust your bets based on which players are in goal. Also, there are plenty of stats on how teams fare on the second half of a back-to-back situation regardless of who is playing nets, and this information can help you get on the right side of the action.
- In-game Excitement
While traditionally gamblers have bet on the end result of the game, these days in-game betting has become very popular. Rather than waiting three hours for the outcome of a game, you can bet on the winner of an individual period, the number of saves made by a goalie or who will score next. Not all sites offer these lines, so you should poke around at a few sites until you find one that has all the bets you want to make. Also, it helps if a site has a robust mobile platform, as the bets you make will be coming fast and furious. Unless you are sitting in front of your computer when you are watching a game, the odds are you will need to be making in-game bets from your mobile device.
- Teams are streaky…and so are players
Over the course of an 82 game regular season, there are lots of ups and downs for both teams and individual players. A smart hockey bettor will be watching the daily statistics for streaks in one direction or another. No need for advanced analytics here – you can look for news stories like a top line player being demoted to a lower line in order to break a slump or a team that is just having a hard time winning in a certain building. These streaks can spread over multiple seasons, especially when you consider that the east teams only play in the west buildings once a year. If you stick close to the daily updates, you will start to spot areas that you can exploit with your betting site.
What are the best NHL hockey betting sites?
It is no surprise that with the moderate popularity of hockey across the United States, it tends not to be on the front page of many betting sites. However, if a site is catering to Canadians or Europeans, it may have a more prominent presence. We don’t care where the sport is hiding on the site, as long as the site offers lots of betting options to players.
With that in mind, we have gone through all of our comprehensive betting site reviews and pulled a few out to highlight on this page. The list below of the Recommended Hockey Betting sites offers you the best options when it comes to the bets you can place, as well as some great promotions to make your money go further. They all offer mobile betting in either app or browser formats, but if you live in the United States, you may not be able to download the app from your App Store.
The continued expansion of the NHL into new markets is going to grow the game, which in turn will impact all the betting on the sport. With a new team in Las Vegas, gambling on hockey has been thrust into the spotlight, and the potential of regulated sports gambling across the United States is enough to make all hockey fans giddy with excitement. Now is the time for you to get up to speed on the best strategies for betting on the NHL, and the tips you have read on this page are a great start to put you on the path towards being a winning gambler.