For many people in the northern hemisphere, betting on ice hockey is nearly as old as the sports, which was created in the late 1800s when Canadians decided to continue playing a sport using a stick and a ball, regardless of the weather – creating the game we know today.
Using skates, sticks, a puck, and two nets, ice hockey would eventually become the national sport of Canada, and in 1917, the National Hockey League (NHL) was formed.
The NHL became the highest level of hockey competition in the world and in the United States, the league became one of the four most popular professional sports leagues alongside the NFL, NBA, and MLB.
If you want to join the millions of people who bet on hockey annually, then betting online is the way to go. Each of the sports betting sites breakaway from the rest of the pack and are the most trusted in the online sportsbook industry.
COVID-19 has caused most sports to be put on ice, and hockey is no exception. The NHL has suspended its 2019-2020 season, though there is hope that the Stanley Cup Playoffs will still be contested (even if they have to be delayed). Stay tuned for pro hockey updates, and while you can't bet on the puck line for a while, you can still play real money casino games, slots, and poker at the best NHL betting sites.
Best NHL Hockey Betting Site
For USA Players
Betonline is our #1 pick for US players looking to bet on NHL. They are one of only a handful of sites that we deem to be reputable in the industry. They accept players from all 50 states (except New Jersey) as well as all international players as well. Claim a generous 50% signup bonus up to $1000 on your first deposit as well as ongoing bonuses and promotions to help keep your account fat.
Is Betting on Hockey Games Legal in the USA?
Yes, it is legal for a U.S. resident to bet on hockey either from a licensed offshore online sportsbook or through a state-regulated sportsbook destination.
Before PASPA was overturned, US-based online sportsbooks were not permitted, however offshore sites could accept bets as long as the bookmaker was licensed by another country and located outside of US borders – like each of the online sportsbooks we recommend.
After the repeal of PASPA in May 2018, states were given the authority to decide if they want to legalize domestic sports betting, and some have begun allowing sportsbooks to operate within state lines.
Hockey Betting Guide – NHL Betting Lines in America
While there are many hockey leagues to bet on, the NHL is far and away the most popular since it’s the highest level of hockey competition in the world. As a result, it gets far more betting options and is the easiest hockey league to research – a must for anyone wanting to successfully bet on hockey.
The “puck line” is essentially a point spread for hockey where a favorite must win by a certain amount of goals scored, and the underdog can’t lose by more goals than the line indicates or win the game outright.
The puck line, like points spreads, is set by sportsbooks to create an even betting line out of an unbalanced matchup between any two hockey teams.
The money line in hockey is a straight bet on which team will win the game. To balance this, sportsbooks set odds to determine how much needs to be wagered and how much can be won as a result.
Betting on the money line favorite will require more money to be wagered for smaller payout. The more likely a hockey team is to win, the less the winning returns will be.
On the flip side, bets on the underdog require less money and receive a larger payout since this team is more likely to lose – yielding a larger-than-bet return for beating the odds.
Over/Under – Total Goals Scored
A bet on the O/U line requires a wager to be placed above or below the predicted number of goals scored set by a sportsbook for any given hockey matchup.
There are two types of over/under lines: Total goals scored for the game, which is the number of goals scored by both teams, and total goals scored by a team, which is the number of goals scored by only one team.
Futures – Odds to Win the Stanley Cup
Futures are bets made weeks or months prior to the outcome being known for a given hockey game, event, or result.
This is done to receive a larger payout due to the outcome being farther away, becoming more uncertain and increasing the potential amount won as a result. The most common in hockey is on the Stanley Cup, which is awarded to the NHL champion each season.
National Hockey League – NHL Schedule and Format
The NHL is made up of 31 professional hockey teams who are split into two conferences: Eastern and Western.
Each team plays an 82-game regular season schedule and are awarded points based on the outcome of each game:
- Win – 2 points
- Loss – 0 points
- Overtime/Shootout Loss – 1 point
The winning team in regulation receives 2 points. Losing in regulation nets 0 points, but if the game is tied at the end of regulation, both teams are awarded 1 point with 1 additional point being awarded to the winning team in overtime or by shootout.
The 16 teams (top 8 from each conference) with the most points advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which a No.1 to No.8 seed, double-sided bracket. Each round is a best-of-seven series where a team must win four games to advance.
The winners of the Eastern and Western Conference play in the Stanley Cup Finals to determine which team will lift Lord Stanley’s cup and be crowned NHL champion for the season.
Hockey Betting Strategies – Tips for Beginners
Here are a few tips if you’re new to betting on hockey and should keep you from slipping on the ice when starting out.
- Goalies are the most important position in hockey
A bet should never hinge on any single player when it comes to team sports, but goalies are the most valuable player to any hockey team. The goalie matchup could singlehandedly lose a bet if you didn’t research them ahead of time. Some goalies are so good, they’ll go on streaks of allowing 0 or 1 goal for several games at a time.
- Look out for winning and losing streaks in hockey
Speaking of streaks, hockey teams go on them quite often and it’s pretty common to see a perceived middle-of-the-pack team win 2-3 games at the end of the regular season and make a deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs – likely because of the goalie performing better than expected.
- Check the injury reports on hockey players
Hockey is a physical sport and one that relies on intimidating your opponent. Because of this, teams tend to keep the news quiet when it comes to player injuries since this would give the opposing team an advantage. However, long-time hockey analyst can tell when hockey players are hurt, so let them update you on injuries if the information isn’t made public.
- Keep hockey bets current to build a bankroll
Remember the hockey futures we covered above? Those lines aren’t the best for newer bettors since you want to build up a bankroll by making bets. This is hard to do when too many bets won’t pay out for potentially months. Puck lines and money lines are posted for each game, meaning each game is an opportunity for profit.
- Don’t complicate your hockey bets
When you're just starting out, keep bets as simple until you start to become familiar with hockey trends since betting on hockey or any sport is a learning experience. This means to avoid things like parlays or props, or at least keep them simple, so you don’t suffer big setbacks. The key is taking small steps forward and smaller steps back when you do lose, which leads to making a profit from hockey betting – the most important goal you can score.