Betting The Moneyline
The moneyline in the NHL, as with all sports, is theoretically the simplest way to place a wager. All you are doing is picking the winner straight up in a given contest, however it requires much more strategy if you want to make it worthwhile. To account for the relative ease with which someone is able to win by betting on heavy favorites, sportsbooks lay the odds in a way that forces you to bet big on moneyline favorites in order to win any sizeable amount of money. Yet, this is where the NHL is unique. Whereas a heavy favorite in the NFL would be anywhere from (-300) to (-1000) and up, a heavy favorite in the NHL may only be (-140) to (-300) on the high end. This is largely due to the variability of the NHL forcing oddsmakers not to place too much confidence on games where underdogs almost always have a legitimate chance to win.
While this can make it harder to confidently bet on favorites, it simultaneously allows for more realistic underdog betting. What is key is bearing in mind that those making the odds likely know something that you do not, and thus it is important to always be cognizant of what the lines are set at when making your wager.
Betting Moneyline Favorites
Naturally, teams that are favored win more often than underdogs. This is true in all sports betting. One positive of chalk betting in the NHL is that you generally have much better odds to work with, even with favorites, than with other sports. Given that you can almost never rule out underdogs however, it is crucial that you are selective with the favorites that you select. Take this matchup between the Florida Panthers and the Columbus Blue Jackets for example. The Blue Jackets are favored at (-125) with the Panthers being underdogs at (+105). When looking to bet favorites this is a game that you should consider avoiding. The Blue Jackets are narrow favorites and clearly the oddsmakers don’t have too much confidence in the game going one way or the other. Given that the Panthers have the momentum right now and are looking to build on a 5-game winning streak, it is easy to see why the margin here is narrow.
Because of the intangibility of momentum in hockey, it is best to look to bet on favorites where metrics like these are not in the equation. Take a matchup between the Montreal Canadiens and the Calgary Flames in which the Flames are favored at (-145) and the Canadiens are underdogs at (+125). Both teams have been on and off as of late but the Flames are clearly the better team at this juncture with a very high-powered offense. With no external factors being apparent, this would be a game in which you could side with the favorite and feel confident doing so.
Betting Underdogs In The NHL
Betting on underdogs in the NHL can be very practical provided you don’t get overzealous. Given how moneyline odds are in the NHL, there is ample opportunity to bet on realistic underdogs constantly. This is supported by the fact that underdogs win approximately 40% of the time in the modern NHL. Obviously you can’t just select underdogs from random games and build an extravagant parlay and assume that chance will be on your side. What you can do is look at specific matchups and conclude that there is enough evidence to support a potential upset. Refer back to the matchup mentioned above between the Florida Panthers and Columbus Blue Jackets. This is a game where betting on the underdog may actually be the smart decision. Aside from the fact that odds essentially reflect that this game is a toss up, the Panthers are the objectively “hotter” team at the moment in the midst of a 5-game winning streak. When you match this against a Blue Jackets team that has been very hot and cold, it is realistic to conclude that the Panthers’ momentum is enough to vault them over an average Blue Jackets squad.
It is always even better winning bets placed on underdogs because you defy the oddsmakers and subsequently get higher returns on your placed bets. In the NHL specifically, as shown, there are times when it is actually logical to place such bets. Obviously as a bettor you have to avoid “traps”. To put it simply, if a wager seems too good to be true, it generally is. Oddsmakers almost never make mistakes, so it is vital that you do your own research and not just be coerced by things like shifting odds prior to the game. It’s important to be aware of what the odds represent when making picks, but make sure you find evidence to support either side.
Parlaying NHL Moneyline Favorites
Moneyline parlays are a great way to increase the monetary value of betting on favorites. This is especially true when making NHL parlays because even the odds on favorites are less extreme than in other sports. Because of the exponential nature of parlay odds, this can make even parlaying favorites a lucrative approach.
With fixed odds, a two-team parlay pays out at 13/5, a three-team parlay at 6/1, a four-team parlay at 10/1, and a five-team parlay at 20/1 odds. Though the evolution of these odds becomes more and more tempting, for consistency’s sake, you are better staying in the 2-3 wager range when making parlay bets. Say there are 6 NHL games in a given night and you want to do a 6-game moneyline parlay with all of the favorites. Because you get 40/1 odds with a 6 piece parlay, the payout on even a small bet with all favorites in the (-120) to (-300) range would be many times more than what you wagered. Particularly in a sport like the NHL, this is a longshot. Of those 6 games it is almost a statistic certainty that an underdog would win 2 or more. This is why it is better to both single out certain matchups that you like in particular, and then make smaller more calculated parlays using these matchups.
A good approach to parlaying moneyline favorites is to take 1-3 games where you have the most confidence in the favorite (perhaps reflected by the odds for those games), out of all of the contests for that day. Say for example that the Minnesota Wild (-250) are favored over the Vancouver Canucks (+210). This is a pretty large odds margin for the NHL and likely means that there is a reason to be confident in the Wild even if it is not automatically apparent why. At the same time, look for other matchups where you feel the odds may not be totally indicative of the matchup. In this instance, the Nashville Predators are favored at (-140) over the Arizona Coyotes at (+120). The Predators are currently the best team in the NHL and the closeness in these odds likely reflects the fact that the Predators have lost their last 2 games. But, one of those games was an overtime loss and the last game involved the Predators coming back from a 3-goal deficit to ultimately lose by 1. While the Coyotes are no slouches this year, the Predators defense is top notch and they are likely to be hungry for a win on this road trip.
Both of these are methods for how you should approach betting on moneyline favorites to build your parlay. Even just a two-part parlay with the Wild (-250) and the Predators (-140) would give you +140 odds on which you could bet confidently.
How To Parlay NHL Moneyline Underdogs
While the most exciting, parlaying underdog moneylines is inherently more risky. Even though it is statistically less risky than other sports, favorites still win nearly 60% of the time in the NHL, so it is important to pick underdogs in scenarios where they actually have a legitimate chance to pull an upset. Just as you would single out a select few games where you especially like the favorite, you would do the same for underdogs.
The most important part of selecting underdogs to include in a parlay is to find statistical evidence that can support the upset. What is this team’s record when facing this opponent both home and away? How does the team’s goalie fair against this opponent? How have both of these teams fared over their last 10 games? These are just examples of the kinds of questions you should ask when looking at underdogs.
If you happen to feel confident about 2 or even 3 matchups in which you like the underdog, then it is worth making a unilateral underdog parlay. This is actually not necessarily bad practice as long as you do so sparingly because the upside on these wagers is huge. If, for example, you took 3 underdogs at (+150), (+125), and (+190), a simple $10 wager would earn you $153 on +1530 odds. In this way you can minimize the impact of the greater risk by making small wagers that can still have monster returns.
Ultimately however, the best way to utilize underdogs is to include them in parlays with favorites. It’s not a bad idea to parlay 3 moneylines where you take two favorites and then a third underdog that you have confidence in. This helps mitigate some risk while expanding the possible net payout.
If you would like to place a parlay using the moneyline bets however unsure what profit you will return from your wager?
Check out our Parlay Calculator allowing you to see what up to a 15 team parlay bet will pay out.