Hockey Betting Lines Explained

Those familiar with sports betting may already have at least a rudimentary understanding of how to read and digest hockey betting lines. However, even if you're an everyday gambler on sports like football and basketball, you may still be a little confused when you run across a hockey betting line.

By and large, hockey lines are basically the same as NFL lines or MLB lines. You won't find very much difference between the Pats and Broncos line vs. the Rangers and Penguins line. This is because the bookmakers' betting structures are practically identical when putting together these sports odds.

You have the basic favorite-underdog dichotomy of the line. You have the basic moneyline, which tells you how much you have to bet to win X amount of money, and also which team is the favorite and which is the underdog. And then you can even find things like over-under lines in hockey, which are practically identical to football over-unders, save the numbers.

For instance, an O/U in football might be 40 points, whereas in hockey it might be three goals. This is because, other than soccer, hockey is the sport with the lowest average scores. This holds true whether you're betting on NHL hockey games or betting on NCAA hockey.

So while these lines are rather similar in structure, they can still create a little confusion. Throughout this section of our hockey gambling resource, we'll attempt to greatly simplify hockey betting lines by explaining them in strict layman's terms. We also suggest checking out our page about how to bet on hockey for some great tips and tricks.

Top Betting Site Offering Competitive Hockey Lines And Odds In 2024

Bet Hockey Games Legally At Betonline Sportsbook

If you're looking for competitive hockey betting lines, then BetOnline is our top recommendation. The site's betting lines, odds, and options are are comparable with the best Vegas bookmakers, and they offer all customers a 25% match bonus up to $1000 on all deposits for the life of their accounts!

BetOnline covers both NHL and NCAA hockey leagues through a highly secure and well designed betting environment. The vendor has been in the business since 1991, making it one of the first online sportsbooks. BetOnline AG welcomes USA customers at 18+, and offers multiple US-friendly banking methods for funding your account (including Bitcoin and other cryptos). BetOnline is located, licensed, and regulated in Panama City, Panama, and the service has earned a reputation as a trusted and reliable sports betting destination.

Top Online Sportsbooks In 2024 To Bet On Hockey Games Legally In The US

Betonline Hockey Promotion

SportsbookBonusUSARating 0-10Visit Link
Betonline Sportsbook25% Max $1,000Yes9.3Visit Site
Mybookie50% Max $1,000Yes9.2Visit Site
Sportsbetting.ag25% Max $1,000Yes9.1Visit Site
Bovada Sportsbook50% Max $250Yes8.9Visit Site
Bookmaker50% Max $300Yes8.6Visit Site

Understanding Hockey Betting Lines And Odds

The Hockey Puck Line

First and foremost, let's have a quick look at the favorite-underdog model as reflected by the hockey puck line. You may be more familiar with this kind of bet as a "spread bet" or "point spread" in other sports like football and basketball. The puck line is typically expressed in a line that's either +X or -X. For instance, let's say the Tampa Bay Lightning are hosting the Washington Capitals. The Lightning are favored to win the match, so the line might read: Washington Capitals +2 (-115), Tampa Bay Lightning -2 (-115).

What this means, in a nutshell, is that the Lightning are such favorites that the oddsmakers actually predict they'll win by two complete goals; e.g. by a hypothetical final score of 3-1, 4-2, etc. This makes the Capitals the underdogs, of course, and if you were to bet on the Caps to win, the good news is that they don't actually have to win. If they come within 2 goals, your bet pays out a winner.

For instance, in a score of 3-2 (Lightning over Capitals), you'd still win betting on Washington because Tampa Bay didn't win by two full goals. This is what makes betting on the underdog a very attractive proposition, and it's also why it pays more, dollar for dollar, to go with the longer shot. It's riskier, but the rewards are more attractive, which we'll discuss in greater depth below with the hockey moneyline bet.

As you can see, hockey puck lines come with moneylines in parentheses, which are attached to all hockey bets, regardless of type. Moneylines can also represent specific moneyline bets, but in either case, they mean the same thing. This is explained in the next section.

The Hockey Moneyline

The next most common betting line you'll see when checking out hockey odds is the moneyline, aka the straight moneyline. Straight bets are typically expressed via three-digit numbers (called the "moneyline"), and to put it simply, these numbers let you know how much you have to bet to win a given payout. We'll use examples of $100 here, simply because the concept is easier to digest as a percentage.

Let's say you read a line that says Washington Capitals +255 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning -310. The minus number always represents the favorite and shows how much must be risked to win $100. Here, that means that $310 will net you $100 in winnings if Tampa Bay is victorious.

Meanwhile, at +255, the Capitals are a huge underdog. When a moneyline is positive, that indicates the weaker team and shows how much money you stand to win off a $100 bet. Here, if you were to bet $100 on the Caps, you'd receive a $255 payout (in addition to your initial stake) if they win the game.

Once you get the moneyline figured out, it'll be easy to spot favorable lines. And remember: These moneyline "price tags" aren't betting minimums – We just used $100 to make things simple mathematically. Instead, these lines are ratios that show your risk-vs-reward. Most reputable hockey betting sites accept wagers of as little as $0.50 to $1.00 on all NHL and college hockey betting lines.

The Hockey Over/Under

The third type of hockey bet – which rounds out the classic sports betting "Big Three" – is the over/under. This bet, which is usually written in shorthand as O/U at most sportsbooks – is also called the hockey totals bet. With hockey over/unders, you're not interested in which team wins the game. Instead, you're strictly interested in how many goals both teams will combine to score by the final buzzer. Hockey totals look like this: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning O/U 7.5 (-115).  

This is predicting a rather high-scoring game. When placing your wager, you're betting on whether these teams will score more than seven goals ("over") or fewer than seven goals ("under"). Sports betting sites often use half-point increments on totals bets to prevent the wager from hitting on the exact number and resulting in a "push," which causes all bets to be refunded.

The moneyline in parentheses here shows that regardless of whether you take the over or the under, the wager pays out $100 for every $115 wagered. That's how puck line bets work, too (see above), and it means that sportsbooks are guaranteeing a house take, or vigorish, no matter the outcome. Sportsbooks don't take liabilities on spread bets or over/unders, but they can actually lose money on straight moneyline bets.

Other Hockey Bet Types

In addition to the above, you'll always find more hockey odds on offer at the best online betting sites. These generally include the following, all of which come with attached moneylines that works as explained above:

  • Hockey Player Prop Bets 
  • Hockey Team Prop Bets
  • Hockey Game Prop Bets
  • Hockey Futures Bets 

Hockey player props are wagers that have to do with the individual performances of specific players during a given game. You can bet on how many goals a player will score, how many saves a goalie will rack up, how many minutes a player will be active on the ice, and more. Most sites even have special prop builders so you can create your own player propositions.

Team props are just like player props, but they reflect the in-game performances of entire lines and can be broken down by offensive and defensive stats. Hockey team props let you bet on how much ice time a given line will accrue, how many shots a defense allows on net, how many breakaways an offense will get, and more.

Game props are akin to the above, but they ask you to wager on statistical achievements that have to do with the game as a whole. Things like how many shots both teams will take in total, what the score will be after a specific period, how many penalties will be assessed, etc. are all common hockey game props.

Hockey futures are like long-term proposition bets, where you wager on things like which team will win each division, which teams will win the Eastern Conference and Western Conference titles, how many wins a given team will accrue on the year, which player will win MVP, and so on. Hockey futures are available year-round, but you'll always get the best odds and payouts on each during the off-season or early in the regular season.

Finding Good Betting Odds

Now that you understand the basics, all you need to do is find favorable odds on which to bet. Our Rangers-Capitals line in the moneyline section above is an example of great odds for the underdog. For instance, were you to bet $20 on the Capitals, you're looking at more than a 2:1 payday, with a Capitals win paying out over $40.

However, it's a not a great example if you're looking to bet on a favorite. A bet of $20 here would only win you a little over $6. Not much of a risk, but also not much of a reward. The best possible line is a combination between the two. You're looking for a good moneyline on the underdog, but nothing too steep on the favorite.

For example, if that line was simply -210 instead of -310 in favor of NY, you'd have a much better potential payday coming if the Rangers win. And the best part is that you can often find lines where the dog's number won't be reflected that much in the opposite direction. As an example, it's common to find hockey odds where the favorite might be listed at -175 and the underdog at +220 or more. That kind of line has a lot of value on either side of the bet. You should always be looking for balance. That is, you want something that can be lucrative either way you go.