The 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin Monday night. Thanks to the legalization of single-game sports betting in North America, this could be the most wagered playoffs in NHL history.
Hockey betting is not as common as betting on other major sports in the United States. As of October 2021, the average MLB game attracts five times more bets than the average NHL game at Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. Part of that barrier to entry is simply not knowing all the different ways to bet on an NHL game.
Here’s a guide to betting on the NHL, with some specific Stanley Cup Playoff betting tips that will help beginners and puck heads alike.
Odds from Caesars Sportsbook Monday.
What are the main hockey bets?
The most popular NHL bet is the Moneyline bet. It’s basically betting on a team‘s chances of winning the game. Let’s say you like the Minnesota Wild to defeat the St. Louis Blues in Game 1 of their series, and the Wild are a -140 favorite to win that game. Bet $20 and the payout is just over $34. But on the other hand, let’s say you like the underdog Blues here and they have +115 to win the game. Your $20 will earn you $43 if they win.
The next most popular bet is the “puck line”. (Some people call it the “goal line,” but that’s a little confusing considering there’s an actual “goal line” on the ice in hockey.) It’s basically “betting l ‘spread’ for hockey, where you get odds based on a team winning or losing by a certain number of goals. Considering how many one-goal games there are in a typical NHL season, the puck line is usually plus or minus 1.5 goals. This can change if there is an unbalanced matchup or the money pours in on an outcome.
It can also change via your bet, as “Alternate Puck Lines” are available with longer or shorter odds. Let’s say you’re really convinced the Wild will crush the Blues by three or more goals. You can take an “alternate puck line” of minus 2.5 goals for +300 – a $20 bet would net you $80. But let’s say you don’t buy the hype and think the Blues will win the game by two or more goals. This Blues “reverse puck line” minus 1.5 goals gives you odds of +290, so a $20 bet would net you $78.00.
The other popular hockey bet is the total, commonly referred to as the “over/under” for a game. The total number of goals in an NHL game is usually set between 5 goals and 6.5 goals. However this season, in which the NHL recorded its highest average goals per game total (6.3) since the 1995-96 season, bettors have seen those totals climb to 7.5 total goals based on Match.
This is another bet where alternative totals can achieve more bettor-friendly odds if, for example, one outcome is more heavily favored than another. Back to our friends in the Central Division, the Blues and the Wild. Their total was six goals in Game 1, and a $20 bet at -130 on the over would win around $35. But let’s say you think this is going to be a classic playoff defensive struggle. You can adjust the total to five goals, bet the under at +240, and a $20 bet wins around $68.
The 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin Monday night on ESPN’s networks, and you can catch all the action from now until the Lord Stanley Cup is lifted here.
playoff powerhouse | Full Stanley Cup Playoff Schedule | Playoff Hockey Pick’em
What are the other ways to bet on NHL games?
One of the NHL’s challenges in getting more sports fans to bet on hockey? Convince them that there is more to bet than who wins, by how much and how many goals will be scored in the game.
There has been a boom in prop betting in the NHL in recent seasons, including:
Player Accessories: Most household names in an NHL game will have stat props attached to them, where you can bet an over/under bet on their total goals, assists and points for a game.
One of our favorite bets is betting on shot totals. Goals contain a lot of variables, from the play of teammates to the actions of the opposing goalkeeper. While shots can be wide or blocked, this is a more controllable and predictable outcome based on a player’s typical shot generation.
The same goes for goalkeepers and betting save totals. You can base it on the defense in front of them or the predicted game situation, for example, if his team is leading in the third period, there’s a good chance he’ll still face a flurry of shots. There are also bets on when a player scores and on player versus player props.
Much more will be available through NHL puck and player tracking technology, such as how far a player has traveled in a game. Sportsbooks have already authorized this data.
Team Accessories: Arguably the most popular team metric is total goals, not for the game, but for an individual team. This is a good bet if you think you know how a team will perform in the game, but you are unsure how the opponent will hold their end of the scoring market on your total bet of the game. For example , you may not be convinced that the Blues and the Wild will score more than six goals, but you are sure that the Wild will not score four or more. So you can get odds of -140 that Minnesota scores under 3.5 goals, which is usually the number of goals set for a home favorite.
There are also bets on props when a team scores.
Game Accessories: From 2019 to 2021, 22.8% of games went to overtime or a shootout. There is also a bet for this: betting on whether a match will end in regular time or in overtime. You can also bet on whether a team will win the match in regular time, which offers better odds than a moneyline bet which covers regular time and overtime. The Colorado Avalanche are a huge (-320) favorite to win Game 1 against the Nashville Predators, but betting they win within the first 60 minutes of play reduces that odds to -215.
Period accessories: A bet that is gaining popularity is betting on the traditional games – money line, puck line and total goals – on an individual period. With one season’s data, you can find out that some teams start well and others end well. A period puck line is usually just minus 0.5 goals, which means a one goal advantage in the period score will win the bet at a good price. You can also bet that the period will be a draw.
The game props also feature more “coin flip” type bets, such as whether the final total will be even or odd. (Bet as you wish, but we prefer to separate our hockey-style bets from our roulette-style bets.)
What are some of the future Stanley Cup Playoff bets?
There are dozens of ways to stay engaged as the games roll by in the playoffs. They range from traditional bets like which team will win the series to various alternative bets on the series.
Let’s say you’re convinced the Avalanche are going to win against the Predators and win big. Will they win by two or more games? If so, the Avalanche had a -240 chance of making it. But what if you think they’re really going to hit the Predators? You can bet the Avalanche will win by 2.5 games for -115.
You can bet on the number of games in a series or on the exact final score of a series. Some sportsbooks allow bettors to bet on a team winning a specific game as well as the series.
Looking even deeper, there are bets on who will win each conference and who will ultimately win the Stanley Cup, as well as who will win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. There are also tantalizing odds to choose the two teams that will take part in the final and the winner. Like the Toronto Maple Leafs to beat the Blues for the Cup? A $20 bet will net you over $2,000.
Who are the favorites to win the Stanley Cup and the playoff MVP?
Since Monday morning, the Avalanche (+330), the Florida Panthers (+550), the Calgary Flames (+750), the Maple Leafs (+1000), the Carolina Hurricanes (+1100) and the Tampa Bay Lightning (+1100) are favorites to win the Stanley Cup. The longest odds belong to the Dallas Stars, Los Angeles Kings and Predators at +5000.
The favorites to win the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP are Nathan MacKinnon of the Avalanche, Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov of the Panthers (+1200).
There are opportunities for big wins in the Stanley Cup playoffs. But remember one thing: it’s the Stanley Cup playoffs! We look to see the unexpected. As any Montreal Canadiens fan from last season will tell you, expect the unexpected.
Have you come this far and think you can pick the winners of the playoffs? Test your NHL picking skills against hosts and fans from The Point, Daily Wager, First Take and more here when you play our free Playoff Hockey Pick’em game.