Betting On the Over/Under In The NHL
The over/under (O/U) in the NHL is the third line on which you can bet both individually and as part of a parlay. With this option you are betting on whether the total number of goals scored is going to be more or less than what the line is set at. This differs from the point spread and moneyline in that who wins or who loses does not affect the outcome of your wager. The general baseline for the O/U is set at 5.5 goals, but it isn’t uncommon for the line to be set a 0.5 goal in either direction (5.0-6.0) as well.
The reason that sportsbooks elect to use the 5.5 as the standard is an attempt to mitigate pushes. If the line is 6.0 goals for a game and you take the over or the under, and the game ends 4-2, then the total is 6 goals and your bet neither wins nor loses resulting in a push. When this happens there is no action and you get your money back. In the event that one of the bets in your parlay pushes, don’t worry. You won’t get the increased odds from that specific bet, but it won’t cause you to lose your parlay.
When looking to place a bet on the O/U, it is important to look at that matchup and decide basically whether or not you think it will be a higher scoring affair or lower scoring affair. Since there isn’t the same variability and key number strategizing like with the total in football and basketball, deciding on betting the over versus the under comes down more to the quality of the matchup in the NHL.
Betting On The Over In The NHL
It’s natural to want to take the over in most contests in the NHL because when it comes down to it 6 goals doesn’t really seem like that tall of an order. However, there is a reason that the baseline for the over/under is set at 5.5 goals. Of all potential scoring outcomes, the most common result is 3-2, which would obviously be under the set total. But, the second most common outcome is 4-2, which would go over the total or at least push. Both of these results happen approximately 10.6% and 7.7% of the time respectively. These percentages may seem small, but you have to bear in mind that this includes all potential scoring outcomes.
A simple way to approach this is by thinking whether or not a final score of 3-2 or 4-2 seems more likely. This is when it is important to look at the teams in the game and analyze their specific matchup. Here is an example of the thought process that should go into deciding on betting the over:
The Dallas Stars are Playing the Boston Bruins with the O/U set at 5.5 goals. The over is (-125) and the under is (+105). The Stars are only slightly moneyline favorites, which indicates that this is likely an evenly-matched contest. The question is, will it be a high-scoring or low-scoring battle? If you take both teams’ goals per game (G/GP), they add up to 5.9. Additionally, while both teams have a positive goal differential, they each have a subpar penalty kill. Given that the Bruins are a heavily penalized team but also have the 1st ranked powerplay, you are likely to see a lot of scoring opportunities on both sides. Thus, it is logical to take the over (-125) in this case, which also happens to be what Vegas is taking as well.
Betting On the Under In The NHL
Betting on the under is the other option you have been betting on the goal total for a game in the NHL. In this instance, using 5.5 goals as the example, you would be placing your wager on the total for the game being 5 goals or less. As mentioned above, aside from a score of 4-2, the most common results for NHL games happen to be less than 6 total goals, with 3-2 and 2-1 being 2 of the 3 most common scoring totals.
From a statistics standpoint, it is not unreasonable to side with the under if you are really unsure about which direction to go. However, there are elements of NHL hockey that do favor the over despite opposing the stats.
Say that a game is 3-2 with only a few minutes remaining in the third period. When a team is losing by a 1-goal deficit, they are more than likely going to pull their goalie anywhere within 3 minutes of the game ending. This scenario not only gives the losing team an extra man to assist in trying to tie the game, but it also leaves them with an empty net that the team in the lead can dump an easy goal into and make it a 4-2 end result. While neither of these scoring instances are a guarantee, it is common for either side to tack on an extra goal at this juncture and cause you to lose your bet if you took the under.
The main thing when it comes to betting on the under in a certain matchup is how well you predict scoring will be regulated. If both teams are offensive powerhouses and/or sporadic defensively, then the under may not be the call. Sloppy hockey generally equates to scoring more “bad” goals.
But, if you look for matchups with defensively superior teams, these games generally come with less scoring opportunities and fewer goals as a result. For example, this season the Predators are atop the league in goals against average, save %, and goal differential, alongside the Toronto Maple Leafs. In a hypothetical matchup between these two teams, what is likely to be a close game is also likely to be low-scoring. Both of these teams are not very mistake-prone, so you could feel confident betting on the game going under 5.5 goals.
Parlaying the Over/Under In The NHL
Particularly when making NHL parlays, the O/U can be an important tool for success. Because of the relative improbability of determining moneyline outcomes, betting on either the over or the under for certain games can create a great foundation on which to build a parlay. Say that you really like a certain matchup and the offensive weapons on each team but don’t have to much confidence in picking who the winner is going to be. This is a perfect instance to skip over the puckline and moneyline and bet the O/U for that contest.
There are a few ways you can go about using the O/U when parlay betting the NHL. A popular method is to use it as part of a correlated parlay where you build the parlay around 1 particular contest. Using the Maple Leafs versus Predators example from above, say that you ultimately decide that you like the Leafs moneyline as well. This would be the perfect instance in which you could parlay the moneyline with the under. One benefit of this approach is that there are less variables associated with it as opposed to just picking 2-3 different lines from multiple games.
With that being said however, there is plenty of success to be had by just parlaying the O/U from different games as well. From this approach, you can either parlay all overs, all unders, or a combination of both. Determining which route to go is totally dependent on the matchups for the given day. For whatever reason there are nights where it seems as if every game is just one goal after another, and there are nights where teams can barely find the back of the net. When making these picks, one of the best resources you can use is simply looking at a team’s previous 5-10 games. From this you can pick out scoring patterns, which opponents generally force higher or lower scoring affairs, etc.
The O/U is the one line in NHL betting where the odds are relatively fixed, almost always hovering between (+105) and (-120). When parlaying 2 or more O/U bets, you effectively end up with even odds which can create huge potential returns all while parlaying realistic bets. As mentioned above, the most common scoring outcome is 3-2 followed by 4-2, representing the under and the over respectively. Because of this, the best way to decide on whether to bet the over or the under for a specific game involves analyzing each team offensively and defensively, and then looking at how their stats matchup against one another. Generally, more evenly matched games see lower totals, so look at the moneyline odds as well, as they can also give some credence to betting over or under.