Our NHL odds page is designed to direct you to the best bet available so you can maximize your betting profits. Using our odds comparison engine, we post the betting lines from all the major sportsbooks. It's transparent, free, and better yet, you can capitalize on our sign-up deals if you're new to the sports betting game.
The rest of this page will feature explanations for the major types of bets and odds you'll see on this page, what they mean and how you can go about betting on them.
That's the first number you'll see beside the matchup between two teams. Referred to as a point spread in many other sports, the hockey betting term for these odds is known as the puck line. It's a commonly deployed bet, particularly for beginners, because it's designed to level the playing field regardless of which side you bet on.
Unless you're looking at alternative betting lines for longer odds on games, the puck line will always be plus or minus 1.5, with the favored team garnering the -1.5 and the underdog listed at +1.5. The numbers represent the number of goals the favorite must win in order to pay out a winning bet.
NHL odds on the puck line depend on how the teams match up. If it's a relatively evenly matched face-off, the favorites will likely have a -1.5 puck line somewhere around +200 odds. Since it's projected to be a close game, the odds reward bettors for wagering on the puck line. By contrast, the underdogs will have extremely short odds on their +1.5 line in this scenario, probably around -220 or so. If it's a lopsided matchup, the puck line will be offered closer to +100 or so for the favorites, and the underdogs will have a line of approximately -120.
Puck lines are far different from spreads in other sports, save for MLB, whose spread is referred to as a run line and is also plus or minus 1.5. But to stay on topic with the NHL, other sports such as NFL or NBA put their spreads around "even money" but take a little bit off the top, usually posting the lines with -110 odds or thereabouts for both teams' spread totals. It's what's known in sports betting lingo as "juice" or "vig" (short for vigorish). All this means is the sportsbook is shaving a little bit off the top of your wager as a sort of tax that you pay on your bet.
Because the puck line is fixed on a certain number, as opposed to the highly varying spreads of football and basketball, the sportsbook needs to incentivize users to bet on either side by simply changing up the odds. It's more likely an underdog will cover +1.5 goals, but there's the superior upside of betting a favorite at -1.5. To circle back to the example from the prior subsection, let's say you bet on a favorite to cover -1.5 goals, and it's a fairly even matchup. If the odds are +200, and your team wins 3-1, it'd be a $100 bet to win $200.
Those aforementioned -110 odds you often see as juice/vig in other sports are in relation to bets of $100, too. Because the sportsbook is taxing you on either side of the spread, that $100 bet in football or basketball, regardless of which team you choose to wager on, results in only a $90.91 win. You'd need to therefore bet $110 to win $100; the odds aren't in your favor.
Spread odds can change once a game is live, and the same is true in hockey, wherein it's especially exciting when this happens to a puck line. Live betting can be advantageous if you're watching the contest unfold live on TV. If a team is leading by one goal, most sportsbooks will leave betting lines open until pretty late in the third period, and bettors can often get super high odds on the puck line for the winning team. We're talking +450 and even higher in the NHL.
If you're not crazy about betting on an NHL puck line due to the disparate odds involved, don't worry about it. When it comes to moneyline odds, they're a little easier to follow. A moneyline bet means you're simply selecting which team will win the game, regardless of the score.
Going this route is less forgiving than picking the spread when you're betting on the underdog, yet if you feel really good that an upset is going to happen, go ahead and take the flier on the less favored team to win. Perhaps you'd consider hedging a bet on the puck line if you go with the underdog moneyline. That way, there's some built-in insurance in case the outright win doesn't happen.
Moneylines are designed to reward bold underdog picks, but in the NHL, it's actually a good strategy if you like a favorite but think it'll be a close game. Moneylines for even big hockey favorites are usually quite generous in comparison to other sports due to the presence of the puck line and how much of a risk it is to wager that.
The phrase "any given Sunday" really does apply to the NFL but isn't as prevalent in the NHL. On the gridiron, it's more common to see even the worst teams beat the best in any given game, at least in the NFL. Hockey tends to be a little more top-heavy at the highest level. That's not to say upsets are terribly rare, but betting favorites at least on the moneyline is a good strategy. If you have a three-team parlay of heavy favorites, the odds will lengthen more so than in football or basketball, which helps increase your earning power as an NHL bettor.
In the last column of each game, you'll see the Over/Under or Total. This figure is the baseline the oddsmakers have set for the betting lines, and you have to predict whether the teams will combine to hit the Over or the Under of that total.
While it's impossible to "push" on a puck line since there's a half goal always there, you can do so on a goal total. If the Over/Under is set at six goals, and the final score is 4-2, you don't win the bet, but it's instead refunded. However, say the Total for a game is at 5.5. It'd take a final score of, say, 3-2 (five goals) or less to hit the Under, whereas a more decisive 5-1 final tally (six goals), or a higher combined goal total, would result in an Over winning bet.
That whole juice/vig concept from earlier doesn't necessarily figure into NHL odds when it comes to the puck line but does in fact pertain to the Over/Under. The lines will usually be in the neighborhood of -110, but during live betting, you can get slightly better odds.
It's tricky to nail the Over/Under. Savvy bettors look to see how teams are trending and which side of the Total they hit more often. That's a great starting point for deciding before you throw down money. The NHL is once again unique in this regard, though.
In other sports, hitting the moving Over/Under target once the game is live is even harder and doesn't often merit the action due to the lack of upside. It's a markedly different story in hockey.
Late in games, if a team is trailing by one or even two goals — the latter instances are more commonplace in the postseason — they'll pull their goalie in an effort to score late. Not only does this give puck line bettors hope that their team will hold steady on defense and possibly pick up an empty-net goal or two, but it also gives legs to a bettor who likes to ride the Over.
It used to be that friends would take trips to Las Vegas and bet on their favorite team to win the Stanley Cup while frequenting the casinos. Now that legal sports betting is picking up across the U.S., that's no longer really the case, because major sportsbooks offer what are called futures, which are, to put it succinctly, long-term investments that won't pay off until a while into the future.
When it comes to the NHL, futures wagers are most frequently placed on who will win the Stanley Cup title. There are other types of futures props such as team wins, whether a team will make the playoffs, and more, but championship betting is the most common.
It takes a disciplined and patient bettor to take the plunge on futures. They're very different from regular NHL odds because when you're betting on pro hockey on a weekly basis, you get the instant gratification of a winning payout. The action is happening now, and the wagers pertain to what's going on in that particular game or week of the league's schedule.
The odds for futures are far longer than single NHL games. It's a lot harder to predict who will win the Stanley Cup than, say, who will win an individual contest. Futures are constantly shifting throughout the season, but the sooner you jump on an eventual winner, chances are, the better bargain you'll get, which will increase your payout in the end if that franchise hoists Lord Stanley's Cup.
No need to get confused on this, because at abe, we have a whole separate NHL futures page that will feature conference winner props throughout the 2020-21 season. Take a visit there, and also check out our "How to Bet" hub for more sports betting tutorials that cover the NHL and many of the other major sports leagues to help you increase your betting upside.