Betting the NHL Puck Line: Expert Tips and Advice
The NHL offers up fast-paced action with plenty of talent on display, which leads to plenty of goals scored in today’s era. If you’ve been a hockey fan throughout the last few decades, you would definitely know about the dead-puck era and the common idea that playoff hockey is tougher and harder to play in than the regular season. While part of the ideology holds true, the deeper into the season/playoffs you get, the one constant is the need to bet on the puck line. Goal scoring is up by nearly a goal and a half compared to the early 2000s, and that alone adds another factor into the NHL handicapping equation, especially if you are trying to get the most bang for your buck betting on hockey.
What Does Puck Line Mean in Hockey Betting?
When the majority of the betting public bets on hockey, they usually stick to the moneyline or total options and call it a day. The sharper hockey bettors are the ones who look at the puckline in hopes of finding value. The puckline is essentially the point spread of the game, except the term “point spread” is usually used within basketball and football discussions. Since the scoring in the NHL is much lower than football and basketball, the puckline isn’t a crazy number. The majority of games have a puckline of 1.5 pucks and stay that way no matter how much action it takes. Sometimes you will see a 2.0, but that spread is usually reserved for the big mismatches. In order to win a puckline bet, the favorite team would need to win the game by two or more goals, while the underdog would cash your ticket with an outright win, or a one-goal loss.
Example of a Puck Line:
An NHL moneyline looks like this:
While the puck line would look like this:
Toronto Maple Leafs -1.5 (+165)
Columbus Blue Jackets +1.5 (-190)
In this case, the linemakers expect the Leafs to win by one goal. The puckline has now turned the Leafs into the underdog to win by two or more goals, which means there is more value on them if you believe they win by 2+ goals. If you believe the Jackets can keep the game to a one-goal game (perhaps an overtime game) or win outright, you’d have to lay nearly 2/1 to get that extra half goal insurance.
Is there Value in Betting Pucklines?
Since goals are hard to come by in hockey, the value of a puckline bet is undecided. The only positive about betting the puckline, especially when betting on favorites, is that is presents the favorite with a much more appealing price tag. A hockey favorite might be -200 or higher, but on the puckline, you could get them at even money or better. Obviously wagering on the puckline favorite brings in a lot more risk to the equation. Goals are hard enough to come by, but now you are asking a team to win by more than two goals in a league that may just have the most parity top to bottom. It’s a tough ask.
The negative aspect of betting the puckline lies with betting the underdog. Typically speaking, an underdog is an underdog because they are the inferior team. They will likely lose the game outright, often time by more than one goal. If the underdog is down by one goal late in the game, they will pull the goalie and the likelihood of giving up an empty-net goal and losing by two goals is extremely high. The other problem with betting the underdog is the price tag. Underdogs of +1.5 pucks usually start at (-150) and get worse. So, at the end of the day, the value is undecided based on which side you are wanting to play.
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Tips from Doc’s Sports NHL expert Handicappers:
“The NHL plays an 82-game schedule, and there are always going to be certain spots throughout the season where you can predict a team will come out flat or have that little extra motivation to do well. I recommend finding these spots and using the puck line in your favor. You can likely cash a ticket on the underdog +1.5 goals if you take them against a good team coming off a big win against another elite team or a division rival. Similarly, you can grab the better team -1.5 against a bad team coming off an upset win since the letdown spot will be evident.” – Doc’s Sports
“Though the 2019/20 NHL Playoffs will have a different vibe and feel, one aspect should be familiar. In the early rounds (before the conference finals) watch for underdogs that can potentially skate faster than their opponents, are more skilled in puck possession, and have a goaltender in a good groove. Speed is the name of the game in hockey today with less hitting. Generating odd-man rushes can lead to scoring chances. Being able to control the puck sets up any squad to generate more offense. Of course, a hot goalie can turn any series. As the series progresses, watch for teams that either get the puck out of their own end easily or those that really struggle to do so, that could determine a game or two.” – Doug Upstone
“A hot goalie can ruin everything, especially during the playoffs. A team may be ranked in the upper part of the league in goals scored, and laying a puck-and-a-half may be the only way to get them at a reasonable price. However, if they run into a hot goalie (especially in the playoffs), all puck line bets are more than likely lost before. Riding a hot goalie can add a few extra wins to the bankroll if played the right way” – Vernon Croy
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