A sport that’s growing in popularity with two expansion teams in the last five years is the NHL. For those unfamiliar, the NHL stands for the National Hockey League. This league is the most popular of leagues and the only hockey league available for betting. Over the last decade hockey’s popularity has grown, especially in places where hockey wasn’t relevant before. For instance, a city that nobody considered to be a “hockey-town” now has one of the best teams in the NHL.

Can you guess what Las Vegas is also known for? That’s right, sports betting, and Las Vegas have become a hub for hockey bets. For you that are looking to learn how to bet on this exciting sport, we’ve compiled a guide to help. From getting started, the best bets to make, and things to pay attention to, we’ve got you covered. This way, you make informed and intelligent bets that allow you to cash in at the sportsbook. Let’s get started with “A Guide to Betting on the NHL”. 

How does the NHL work?

The NHL much like any other professional sports league is just that, a league for professionals. The growth in popularity stems from tons of marketing of this historic sport. First organized in 1917, the National Hockey League is a North American league. Remember though that there are teams from Canada mixed into this league. The creation of this league stems from the suspension of the NHA or the National Hockey Association, which was suspended in 1909.  With the addition of the Seattle Kraken, the total teams in the league are brought to 32, just like the NFL. These teams compete throughout the year, although in separate conferences. There are two conferences, each with two divisions. The conferences are Western and Eastern, while the divisions are Pacific and Central division for the Western. The teams in the Eastern Conference are separated into the Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions.

Players skate up and down the rink passing the puck between eachother in the effort to score a goal in the opposing team’s net. At the end of the game, the team with the most goals or “points” wins. Over the course of the season, these teams face each other with the chance of making it into the NHL Playoffs. In the end, the team that wins the Stanley Cup is crowned champion. An interesting note about the Stanley Cup is that it’s the oldest professional sports trophy in North America. The team that has the most points by the end of the season, which are calculated by the NHL is awarded the President’s Trophy. Although on its surface hockey might seem like a tough sport to get into but the more you watch, the more you learn.  

NHL seasonal format

Much like other North American leagues, the NHL follows a strict format. Each team plays 82 games 41 at home and 41 on the road. The season had to be adjusted not long ago due to the addition of the Vegas Golden Knights. However, now that the Seattle Kraken are mixed into the teams, bringing the total to 32, the season format should return to 82 games. The season itself is divided into essentially three parts. The preseason, which runs from September to early October. In the regular season, the league runs from early October to mid-April, and the postseason, which happens immediately after the regular season.

Although it may seem like a long season, the preseason is nothing to concern yourself with when betting. The great part about the preseason though is you’ll have a preview as to the way the team will perform through the year. If you’re planning on betting on the sport, you should keep an eye on some of the preseason games. More importantly, at the start of the season, considering there are 82 games, don’t be shy to attend one. The way the season is laid out gives fans plenty of opportunities to attend games. Once you watch a game, you’ll be hooked. 

Types of bets to make on the NHL

Although the NHL shares many similarities when it comes to betting with other professional sports leagues, there are some differences. Most of these differences will get cleared up with a little research and experience betting on the sport. However, we want to make this as easy as possible so here are some common bets you’ll find you can make. Along with that, we’ll also list some of the less common bets you’ll see in the NHL. 

    • Single Game Betting: This form of betting is very similar to the bets you find in the NBA, the NFL, and MLB. It consists of the moneyline, the point spread, and the over/under. The moneyline is one of the more popular ways to bet on NHL games. It makes it simple due to you just picking a winner and not worrying about spreads and totals. If you’re interested in playing totals and spreads, you can do that as well, just as long as you’re comfortable with your pick.
  • Live Betting: This is a little less common when placing an NHL bet, due to it being such a fast-paced sport. In live betting the lines are changing constantly, this could be due to momentum, a recent goal, or a player injury. Bettors choosing this form of betting have to be quick on their feet, and actively paying attention. 
  • Futures Betting: This one might take some clairvoyance, futures betting is making a pick before the season even starts. This could be on who you think the Stanley Cup Champion will be, the Hart Trophy (MVP), or the best goalie of the year, the Vezina Trophy. 

Whichever wager you choose, make sure you understand the rules. Don’t be nervous to ask for help either, hockey’s a sport most are still unfamiliar with when betting. It’ll always help to watch a couple of games before placing wagers. 

Things to watch for when betting NHL

There is a lot of jargon in the NHL that you’ll need to get yourself familiar with. One of these terms is “puck line”, which is just the term used instead of the “spread” when referring to hockey matches. In rare cases, you need to be aware that the puck line might be set as a “push”, which means your bet will be refunded to you if the score ends up exactly at the total or even with the spread. The term “chalk” is referring to odds on a heavy favorite, in hockey though the odds are low and the profit margin is not worth enough to bet this way. 

You’ll have to be mindful of the progression of the season as well. Maybe a team is leading their division early on in the season, it doesn’t always mean they’ll end up as champion. That’s why it’s important to watch how teams match up against each other. For instance, the Golden Knights have gotten much close to a Stanley Cup Championship in recent years than the Minnesota Wild. However, when they face each other in the regular season, the Wild are usually the victor, due to the matchup. That isn’t to say the Golden Knights aren’t the better team, they just don’t match up well against the Wild. 

FAQ’s when betting on the NHL

Is Betting NHL Legal?

It is, as long as the state you reside in allows for sports betting, NHL odds will be at the sportsbook.

How old do I have to be to bet NHL games?

In most states, bettors have to be over the age of 21.

Who can bet on NHL games?

As long as you are of legal age, and the state you’re in allows sports betting, you can bet on NHL games.

Where can I bet on NHL games?

Anywhere sports betting is allowed. This could be at a sportsbook or an online platform as well. 

Who are some popular players to bet on in the NHL?

This will depend on a year-to-year basis, depending on how the player is performing. Pay attention to goalies though, it’ll be easier to choose the best choice for the Vezina Trophy.