NHL Wagering Tips
by Dave Schwab - 10/13/2011
The 2011-12 NHL schedule kicked-off last Thursday night last and the 82-game march to the Stanley Cup playoffs is officially underway. While the majority of the action that the sportsbooks are taking in right now is concentrated on college football and the NFL, professional hockey is a very viable sport to generate a solid return on your investment. In this article we will help you with some NHL wagering tips to get you on your way.
The first step to adding hockey to your sports wagering portfolio is doing your homework in order to get a strong grasp on the subtle nuances and unique characteristics of the NHL. This will allow you to take full advantage of the type of wagers the sportsbooks offer.
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Another reason to spend some time understanding how to wager on hockey is that given the current situation in the NBA, there is a good chance that the NHL will be the only major professional sport in town once this season’s Super Bowl is in the books.
Betting on the NHL is most similar to MLB betting. The three basic ways to bet on games are on the money line, puck line, and total line. The money line is by far the most popular way to wager on games, but the puck line and total line are viable options as well.
NHL Money Line
The money line in hockey is similar to a money line in any other sport. You have to put more money at risk to bet on the favorite and the potential return for betting on the underdog is greater. The actual line for any particular game are formed the same way they would be for any other team sport.
The primary factors that go into setting the money line still revolve around a team’s ability to score goals and play defense. However, one of the main factors that is unique to the sport is a team’s ability to score on a power play along with a team’s ability to defend against it. A power play is when one team has a one or more player advantage on the opposing team as a result of a penalty.
Another major factor on the money line is the past and current form of a team’s starting goalie. This is the one player that can have a dramatic impact on the outcome of the game, similar to the starting pitcher in baseball.
NHL Puck Line
The puck line wager is a combination of a point spread and a reverse money line that actually pays more for betting on the favorite. The basic starting point is a 1.5-goal spread with a money line for the favorite and a money line for the underdog. When betting the favorite, your team needs to win by two or more goals. If you bet the underdog, your team would need to lose by a goal, tie, or win the game outright. A typical betting line for this type of wager would look as follows:
Boston +1.5 -150
Chicago -1.5 +130
In this scenario, Chicago is the favorite and would pay $130 on a $100 wager if it wins by two goals. Boston is the underdog and you would have to risk $150 to win $100, but you get the 1 ½-goal spread.
The total line in hockey is also similar to other sports, but one aspect that is unique to the sport is that there is very little fluctuation in the actual line. The majority of the games in the NHL will have a total line between five and six goals depending on the particular matchup. In light of this, sportsbooks will often attach a money line to the total line in order to adjust the odds in favor or against the goal total. This twist is another thing to take into consideration when deciding how confident you are that a game will go ‘over’ or stay ‘under’.
A good starting point to handicapping the total line for a particular matchup is understanding each team’s goals-per- game verses its goals-against average. It is not only important to understand how proficient a team is at scoring goals, but how well it keeps the opposition out of its own net. This is another wager where the starting goalies can have a huge impact on the actual outcome of the game.
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