NHL Betting

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Stanley Cup Odds: NHL Betting Preview

If you want to go back in time and find an NHL season stranger than the 2019-20 campaign, good luck. There have already been six head coaches fired mid-season; the most recent casualty is Peter Laviolette, who less than three years ago took the Nashville Predators to the Stanley Cup Final. Laviolette was axed on January 6 and replaced the next day with John Hynes, who was let go by the New Jersey Devils on December 3.

You can add one general manager to the pile as well. New Jersey cut ties with Ray Shero on Sunday; Tom Fitzgerald has taken over on an interim basis. No doubt there will be more bloodletting to come as we get closer to the playoffs, but these early moves have already had a big impact on the NHL Stanley Cup odds board at Bovada Sportsbook – where there’s a new favorite to take home the hardware.


NHL Odds Breakdown

One team you won’t see among the top favorites at press time: the Toronto Maple Leafs. Their odds to win Stanley Cup glory for the first time since 1967 have fallen from +1100 to +1500, even though the Leafs are third in the Atlantic Division and playing well for their new head coach, Sheldon Keefe. Toronto finds themselves in sixth place on the Stanley Cup odds board. Here are the five teams they’ll have to leapfrog to break that long-standing curse.


1. Washington Capitals: +750 NHL Odds

It’s hard to argue with the results thus far for the Capitals. They have the best record in the Eastern Conference at 31-11-5, but their NHL lines might be a little inflated right now; Washington’s +28 goal differential is fourth in the East, and while their puck possession stats are strong, the Caps are No. 22 overall in face-off percentage (49.1%), and heavily reliant on top scorer Alex Ovechkin (28 goals, 16 assists), who also happens to have the worst plus-minus on the team by a long shot at minus-13. At some point, they might have to pull the plug on starting netminder Braden Holtby (.899 save percentage) and give the keys to Ilya Samsonov (.925 SV%).


2. St. Louis Blues: +750 NHL Odds

The reigning Cup champions aren’t skating quietly into that good night. The Blues (30-10-7, +27 goal differential) are tied with Washington for the most points in the league (67), and they’ve got matters taken care of in net with Jordan Binnington (.917 SV%) and veteran back-up Jake Allen (.926 SV%). St. Louis should be in even better shape when defensemen Carl Gunnarsson (arm) and Colton Parayko (wrist) come off the injured list – which could happen before the All-Star Game on January 25.


3. Boston Bruins: +800 NHL Odds

The former favorites on the NHL betting lines have fallen into second place, even though the Bruins lead the Atlantic at 27-9-12 – just a single point behind Washington in the East. The B’s own the third-best goal differential in the league at +31. There aren’t too many points of concern for them; like the Capitals, they also maintain control of the puck, but they’re stronger in the face-off circle at 51.1%, good for seventh overall, and they have a reliable goalie combo in Tuukka Rask (.925 SV%) and Jaroslav Halak (.919 SV%).


4. Tampa Bay Lightning: +800 NHL Odds

It’s been an up-and-down season for the Lightning (28-14-4, +33 goal differential). After starting the new season at +750 on the NHL Vegas odds, Tampa stumbled out of the gate and fell to +1200, then moved back up to +800 on the heels of a 10-game winning streak. Reigning Vezina Trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy (.916 SV%) has found his form again of late, and there are already four skaters with at least 40 points on the board, led by last year’s Art Ross and Hart winner, Nikita Kucherov (18 goals, 32 assists).


5. Colorado Avalanche: +1300 NHL Odds

The Avalanche may still be third in the Central Division at 25-15-6, but they continue to lead the Western Conference (along with the St. Louis Blues) with a +27 goal differential. There are some warts on this young team, though; the Avs rank No. 25 in face-offs at 48.5%, and starting netminder Philipp Grubauer (.909 SV%) has been outshone by rookie back-up Pavel Francouz (.926 SV%). This team could fall apart if leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon (27 goals, 41 assists) doesn’t stay healthy and productive.

*Odds as of January 21, 2020.

Bet on the NH

How to Bet on NHL Hockey: NHL Betting Explained

The National Hockey League has been around for over 100 years. But the Stanley Cup is even older than that. The greatest trophy in North American sports was created in 1892, and in many ways, it transcends the NHL itself. Children across the world dream about winning the Stanley Cup, and seeing their names engraved on the silver chalice – right next to Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby.

NHL betting has been around since that first game on December 19, 1917 between Toronto and the Montreal Wanderers. However, it wasn’t until the internet came along that betting on hockey turned into the global juggernaut that it is today. This NHL betting guide will show you everything you need to get in the game; we’ll explain how to bet on NHL hockey, from the simple straight bets to the more exotic wagers available at Bovada Sportsbook.


NHL Puck Line Betting: What is an NHL Puck Line Bet?

Spread betting was invented by Charles K. McNeil, a Chicago gambler and former math teacher who started his own bookmaking business in the 1940s. By forcing the favorite in a game to win by a certain margin, the point spread turns a wager into something closer to a binary “50/50” outcome, making it easier for bettors to understand. Since the NHL keeps score by goals instead of points, the puck line (aka the Canadian line) is used when betting on hockey.


Understanding NHL Puck Line Betting 

When the NHL puck line odds are set, the favored team is usually given a spread of 1.5 goals, although 0.5 goals or even two goals can be used as well. Here’s the puck line from Game 6 of the exciting 2017 Stanley Cup Final between the Nashville Predators and Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins:


  • Pittsburgh Penguins    +1.5 (–255)
  • Nashville Predators     –1.5 (+215)


Nashville, as the home team, is listed at the bottom. The negative sign next to their spread indicates that the Predators were favored to win Game 6. The number in parentheses refers to their payout; had Nashville won by at least two goals, they would have paid $215 for every $100 bet (smaller and larger bets are allowed). The Penguins, as road underdogs, could have lost by one goal and still paid out $100 for every $255 wagered, but they won 2-0 to claim the Stanley Cup for the second straight year.


NHL Moneyline Betting: What is an NHL Moneyline Bet?

Betting on the NHL moneyline is the original way to do business on the ice – and very easy to understand if you’ve already figured out the puck line. There’s no spread attached to the favorites; you’re betting on which team will win the game straight-up. NHL moneyline odds are expressed using the true odds rather than fixed odds.


  • Pittsburgh Penguins    +120
  • Nashville Predators     –140


As before, the Predators are the home favorites, listed at the bottom and indicated by the negative sign. A $140 bet on Nashville would have paid $100 had they won, while a $100 bet on the underdog Penguins would have earned you $120. This is an example of a 20-cent line, referring to the difference in odds between the two teams. When bigger favorites are involved, you’ll typically see moneylines of 40 cents or more.

Keep in mind when you’re betting on the NHL that the puck line and moneyline odds can and will be adjusted after the opening lines are posted. If one team is pulling in most of the action, the odds will usually shift to make the other team a more desirable bet. The odds at the time you place your wager will be the odds used to calculate your payout. You can occasionally find a better price on your chosen team by taking either the puck line or the moneyline; for Game 6, after the Penguins drew most of the early moneyline action, the odds for each team were moved to –110 by the time the lines had closed. The puck line, on the other hand, was the same at the close as it was at the open. Keeping track of these changes will help you find the best value on the board.


NHL Game Total (Over/Under) Betting: What is an NHL Totals Bet?

The third and last of the straight wagers is the total, often referred to as the over/under:


  • Pittsburgh Penguins    5.5 (+105)o
  • Nashville Predators     5.5 (–125)u


The names of the two teams aren’t important with this wager, since they’re working in tandem to score goals. But it’s important to remember that the top half represents the price on the Over; Bovada Sportsbook provides the lowercase “o” to help clear up any confusion, as well as the lowercase “u” to represent the Under at the bottom. As with the puck line, the numbers in parentheses are the American odds for either side. A $100 bet on the Over would have paid out $105 had the Pens and Preds combined for at least six goals, but since Pittsburgh won 2-0, the Under paid $100 for every $125 wagered.


NHL Futures Betting: What is an NHL Futures Bet?

The three straight wagers we’ve mentioned make up the bulk of NHL betting, but there’s plenty more where that came from. While you can only place these straight bets in-season, you can bet on the NHL any time of year by placing a futures bet – where you wager on the outcome of an event that won’t be resolved until sometime in the future. NHL futures odds are available virtually 24/7 on who will win the next Stanley Cup, even during the offseason. You might also find odds on who will win each of the league’s two conferences (Eastern and Western), or each of the four divisions (Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central and Pacific).

Once the season officially ends and someone skates away with the Cup – sometimes even before that – the odds for who will win the following season will be posted on the NHL futures market. Each team will have a price, listed using American odds; as the season rolls on and teams are eliminated from contention, they’re taken off the market. The Penguins were the defending Stanley Cup champions heading into the 2016-17 regular season, so they were listed as +800 favorites during the preseason, while the Predators were available at +1800 to win their first-ever Cup.


NHL Prop Betting: What is an NHL Prop Bet?

Proposition bets have exploded in popularity thanks to the internet. These side bets involve outcomes other than the result of a game or a season; you can find NHL prop bets under the following categories at Bovada Sportsbook:


NHL Game Props

In addition to the three straight bets, every game on the schedule will feature a number of props, like which of the two teams will score first, or whether the game will go into overtime.


NHL Player Props

Each NHL game will also have player props added to the list of betting options. You can bet on whether a certain player will score during the game, whether one player will finish with more points than another player, and so on.


NHL Team Props

When you bet on NHL team props, you’re betting on the outcome (or non-outcome) of a single team’s performance – usually over the course of the season. The most popular team props are the regular season points totals, which are posted during the offseason; NHL teams earn two points for a win, and one for a tie or an overtime/shootout loss.


NHL Season Props

This is where you can bet on other events that will unfold over the course of the season. For example, you can bet on who will win the Hart Trophy as league MVP, or the Art Ross Trophy for leading the league in points scored (goals and assists).


NHL Specials

If an NHL prop doesn’t quite fit the above categories, it ends up in the Specials bucket. You can bet on things like whether a certain player will be moved at the trade deadline, or whether a city will be awarded an expansion franchise.



NHL Parlay Betting: What is an NHL Parlay Bet?

When you’re making a number of NHL bets at the same time, you have the option of combining those bets in a single parlay, and getting paid exponentially higher if all your picks come true. These payouts increase as you put more teams in your parlay; in this case, “teams” refers to totals as well as puck line or moneyline picks. Some NHL futures and props may also be allowed in your combo. You can have anywhere between 2 and 12 teams in a single NHL parlay.


How are NHL Parlay Bets Calculated?

It can be a little tricky to work out your potential payout with NHL parlays, but don’t worry – Bovada will do the math for you automatically as you enter your chosen parlay teams on your Bet Slip. If you want to do it by hand, take the American odds for each team in your parlay, convert them to decimal odds.


For example, let’s say you wanted to make the following 2-team parlay for Game 6 of the 2017 Cup Final:


  • Penguins +120
  • Under 5.5 (–125)

Here’s how that parlay looks when converted from American odds to decimal odds:


  • Penguins 2.20
  • Under 5.5 (1.80)


Multiply 2.20 and 1.80 together, and you get your potential payout of 3.96 times your original wager. That’s nearly twice as much as you would have gotten paid by betting the Penguins and the Under separately. Of course, when you’re betting on NHL parlays, you have to get every pick right to get paid, so they’re a riskier bet than simply making a series of straight bets. But if you successfully pick an entire 12-team parlay, you can win well over 2,000 times your bet, up to the maximum payout of $100,000 at Bovada Sportsbook.


NHL Live Betting

Live betting on the NHL has grown by leaps and bounds since it was introduced just a few short years ago. When a game is in progress, you’ll see the “LIVE MODE” button for that matchup on the NHL odds board. Clicking or tapping on that button will open that game’s Live Betting page, where you’ll find puck line, moneyline and total odds updated in real time, as well as prop bets like which team will score next. With so many betting options, you’ll never have to worry about missing out. You can even use you mobile and bet on the game while you’re watching at the bar, or maybe at the arena itself.

If you want to learn more about how to bet on the NHL, you’ll find all these different bets explained in more detail on our Sports FAQ pages in the Help section. Don’t forget about our growing archive of NHL articles, where we’ll keep you up to date on the most important developments in NHL betting, and even provide some helpful tips along the way. But for now, you have everything you need to get started betting on the world’s coolest sport. Open your account today at Bovada Sportsbook if you haven’t already, and don’t forget to keep your stick on the ice.