Hockey (NHL) Betting in Canada
The National Hockey League (NHL), was formed in 1917 and in the modern day is the biggest competition in the world of ice hockey. The game is played at the Winter Olympics and there are leagues across the globe but the NHL is considered to be the pinnacle.
That’s certainly the case for the betting community who stake more money on this North American league than any other. There are lots of NHL betting opportunities and therefore many ways in which any punter can get involved.
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How to bet on Hockey
If you want to bet on hockey successfully then you will need to know what markets are available for the NHL and any other leagues. A quick guide to these markets follows and it’s important to digest them and work out which ones appeal.
Betting on NHL games can be done before the game starts or, like many sports, there is an active set of in play markets that kick in once the game gets underway. In order to win profits on a regular basis it’s vital to study form, injury records and the head to head stats between the two sides. Fortunately, in the digital age, it’s very easy to find NHL sites that are packed with relevant statistics.
Finding the right bookmaker who offers competitive odds and a good range of markets is also important and we will offer recommendations and advice on how to identify the right sportsbooks as we work through this guide.
NHL betting lines
What is a betting line?
A betting line is any market that is made available by the bookmakers for an ice hockey match or, it can apply to the outright markets for the overall winning team at the start of a season. The betting line is listed by the sportsbook, usually with American odds available, and the customer has to decide whether to take that bet on.
Lines are made available for the match result and these are the most popular but there is a small set of prop bets available too. Ice Hockey is quite a simple sport as there isn’t a huge range of betting markets but we’ll now work through the ones that are widely quoted.
NHL Money Lines
A money line bet purely relates to the result of the game. There are three possible options here with a win for either side or a draw at the end of regular time. Not all sportsbooks offer odds on the tie as most will carry the bet into overtime but it is quoted in places.
With a money line bet, the bettor simply has to weigh up the odds on the three potential options that are available and make a decision on which one to back.
NHL Puck Lines
A puck line is referred to as a spread or a handicap with some bookmakers and it involves giving the a team a notional head start in terms of goals. In hockey, the spread is always set at +/- 1.5 and when that is done, the team who start as favourites would need to win by two or more clear goals to give the profit.
Meanwhile, anyone backing the team with the longest odds will win their bet if that side wins or if they lose by just one goal.
NHL Totals (Over / Under Bets)
Totals betting relates to the number of goals scored in the game and is usually a combined total for the two teams taking part. Lines start from 2.5 and with some sportsbooks they can extend up to 8.5 and the task is to pick a goal line and bet either over or under it.
The combined points total is by far the most popular bet here but with some bookmakers it is possible to find total goals for the individual sides involved in the match.
The term point spread works very differently in hockey as it does for most sports where spread betting is used. In other events, a spread is set on a line and punters wins or losses are multiplied by the amount of points that the team goes above or under that line.
In hockey, a relatively low amount of goals are scored so this bet would not be a popular one. Therefore, in any hockey game, we revert to the money line which takes the place of the spread and simply involves backing either side to win.
A Grand Salami bet is an extension to the available bets in the Total Goals market but in this case, it covers all of the NHL games that take place on a certain day. The sportsbooks will identify those matches and once again, a set of Over and Under lines will be published.
Clearly there are more bets available here and it can be a tougher call but the Grand Salami is an interesting prop bet and one that has proved to be very popular with hockey bettors.
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Hockey Betting Rules
As with any sport, you should always check for any specific betting rules that apply. Log on to your bookmaker’s site and there should be a very extensive section marked either as ‘terms and conditions’ or, more simply, ‘rules’.
Scroll through and hockey should have its own section where you can read up on any terms that need to be kept in mind. One of the more common stipulations comes with the dead heat rule which can sometimes apply to the money line bet in the event of a drawn game. Many bookmakers will simply carry the bet over into the overtime period but others may apply the dead heat ruling where a fraction of the win odds are paid out.
Check also on any rules relating to abandoned matches but in general, while there may be a lot of text to work through, it is advisable to check this section, particularly if you are going to bet on hockey on a regular basis.
Ice Hockey Betting Tips
Home and Away Form
A hockey rink is the same wherever you go but it is common to see a team play better at home than they do away. This could be due to having the backing of a noisy home crowd but whatever the reasons behind this might be, it’s a factor that can be used as part of a successful hockey betting strategy.
Assessing form is important in any sport so before the relevant match comes up, check the results for at least the last six matches. Check too for any recent head to head games between the two sides to see if one has a strong winning record over the other. Lastly, factor in that home and away form: If a team are bad on the road then you may want to avoid them or back their opponents to come away from the ice with a win.
Puck line Underdog
We’ve mentioned the puck line bet as the one where a point spread / handicap is applied and the underdog in this case is the weaker team. Remember, when the line is set at +/- 1.5 then that weaker side has to either win or lose by one single goal in order for a profit to be paid out.
This is where form needs to be assessed very closely as it is possible to make good regular profits by betting on the puck line underdog. A side may lose but if that losing margin is the narrowest possible then they would still give you a profit in the puck line betting. Check those recent results and if single goal losses are mixed in with an occasional win then there can be clear value in backing the puck line underdog.
Statistics are out there to help us with our hockey betting and to hopefully land some regular profits on our way. We’ve mentioned much of the analysis that needs to be done and for money line betting, this involves form, both home and away, and results from head to head games involving the two teams.
In the total goals market, if the two teams playing in an upcoming match are scoring heavily then that would suggest we should be looking at the overs bet while similarly, a set of low scoring games should have us heading to the unders options. Check for injury news too from the many news reports on the NHL through the season. There are lots of sites out there that publish relevant stats, including the official NHL portal so do your research and you’ll be in good shape as you head to the markets.
NHL Live Betting Opportunities
NHL is a fast paced league and it’s therefore perfect for those who like to get involved in live betting. Those who like to think of themselves as a top hockey analyst will be well suited to in play stakes as they can use those skills to work out how a game is developing and to apply their own strategy.
Money line, totals and other prop bets are all available in the in play betting and, odds can often be longer here than in the ante post equivalents because of the fluctuating nature of a hockey match. As part of your live strategy, make sure you have a fast internet connection at home and that you have the sportsbook’s app downloaded to your phone or other mobile device.
Best NHL Live Betting Site
The majority of sportsbooks offer live betting now but one of the best around is Sports Interaction. It’s the main site for many Canadians anyway because it is based in the country and its main aim is to serve its own national customers but amongst the many benefits of signing up here is the long list of live hockey betting options.
Sports Interaction also have a dedicated app which is free to download and easy to use and can be installed on iPhone, Android and most other platforms. Along with the big set of markets is a strong pricing structure that gives competitive odds and better value for live play on any sport.
How to Choose the best hockey betting sites
Sports Interaction underline the qualities needed to be a great hockey site, whether it’s for live betting or the more traditional ante post markets. All sportsbooks quote for hockey but some will be better than others so it’s a case of finding out who they are.
Firstly, we are looking for value and that comes with odds that should be competitive in any hockey betting market from the money line through to the more obscure prop bets. Check a small range of prices and you can quickly see if your bookmaker is going to be competitive. Value should then be backed up with choice of markets from the money line through to prop bets and live betting.
Along with Sports Interaction, Betway, 888Sport and Bet365 should also be good homes as you continue your hockey betting journey.
Another site which is trustworthy and with a great reputation is 888sports. First up, they are very focussed on attracting Canadian customers, offering $150 in free bets on NHL. This focus continues into their customer service and banking options, where Canadians will first of all be able to speak to an advisor either via live chat or the toll-free telephone line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Their customer service representatives are multilingual and they offer a sportsbook in English and French meaning that French-Canadians need not feel left out. They are also contactable on Facebook and Twitter, the use of which can resolve problems even quicker lest the site attract negative publicity.
There are a decent number of betting lines available, with match betting, player props and futures all accounted for, but it doesn’t have the range of markets provided by the likes of Pinnaclesports. Their mobile site is fast loading and provides easy registration allowing you to bet on the go. Live betting is available and updates regularly and quickly. 888sports is a good site that has a lot of nice features. It could do with providing more lines on things such as individual player props and more markets on period lines, but the bonuses are good and it is a great alternative for Canadians looking for an easy to navigate site with decent odds. It is a good all rounder, but other sites would make more appeal purely for the list of options available.
For a long time, Bodog has been the Big Dog when it comes to Canadian Sportsbooks. It has an excellent reputation forged by having a sharp focus on Canadian customers and treating them with the utmost professionalism. There are many pretenders to Bodog’s crown so how does it stay at the top? First of all it’s this customer driven approach. They frequently offer promos exclusively to Canadian customers and reward their loyal customers on a regular basis. Most importantly, when it comes to the betting lines Bodog have this covered too. Bodog has a superb line in Hockey betting. From futures to match betting to player props, they are all there.
You can bet on first to score, first to three goals, first period goals, team props and winning margins. On player props you can have NHL points leader, Top Goalscorer betting, Top Goaltender betting and Most Valuable Player betting. You can also bet on the future markets for Stanley Cup and Eastern and Western Conference winners. There is also betting on the Moneyline and multiple team parlays. They have every angle covered. For a site as trusted and well known as Bodog it would be easy for them to skimp on betting markets, but they deliver every time. There is also a recently launched handy mobile site for betting on the go, the absence of which had held the site back previously. Bodog really looks after it’s Canadian customers.
Bet365 is big. You have so many options available, the hockey match would be over by the time you went through them all. Thankfully it is an exceptionally easy site to access and navigate. Even though it is a European based site, all the betting options available on Bodog and Pinnaclesports are present. It is open to all Canadian customers and has an excellent customer service department with fast withdrawals and plenty of deposit methods available.
It offers great bonuses and promotions, none more so than it’s 50% parlay bonus. It is also one of the few sites that stream Hockey games live. This means you can watch as games progress and be on top of your next bet at all times thanks to the live betting portal. It has a great mobile betting site which is accessible either through an app or browser. There may be a bit of frugality from Bet365 when it comes to offering generous odds. I suspect this is because being European based, Bet365 isn’t fully conversant in all aspects of the game and tends to err on the side of caution. Despite this, Bet365 is a terrific site with all the betting options you could ask for.
Not only does Pinnaclesports have one of the widest ranges of Hockey bets available, it is also home to some of the best prices found on the internet. Last season it paid out more on Hockey bets than any other major online bookmaker. Furthermore, Pinnaclesports offers the highest betting limits available and with the fewest betting restrictions. You can bet on first period lines, Over/Unders, Spreads, Goal Totals, Moneylines and Overtime Betting. It has a great line on future props including Stanley Cup winners, winners of Eastern and Western Conference and all Divisional Champions.
There may not be any introductory bonuses, but that is because they invest their margins back into the odds. The site is basic, but easy to negotiate and access. Canadian Dollars are accepted and you will have the usual banking options available. A nice feature is their Dynamic Lines section where you can get a taste of what bets are most popular and where other people are laying their money. Their mobile site is functional if basic, but it does let you take advantage of those excellent odds on the go. Pinnaclesports may not lure you in with a glamorous site or enticing bonuses, but if you want the best odds available for Hockey betting then this is most definitely the site for you.