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NHL Moneyline: How to Bet on Games Straight Up

Hockey moves fast. It’s a game of skill where blade meets ice in an attempt to move the puck into the opposing net. When it comes to betting on it, you don’t have to be Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux to make smart picks. In fact, with Odds Shark’s NHL moneyline tutorial, you don’t even need to be a pro sports bettor. All you need is this page and you’re halfway to an optimal online betting experience.

What is the NHL Moneyline?

In any sport, the moneyline is a bet that involves wagering on a team to simply win the game straight up (SU). In hockey, you would pick the team that you believe is going to win, as opposed to covering the point spread or puckline – more on that later.

How to Read NHL Odds

In order to understand how to make a straight-up bet, you’ll first need to have an essential grasp of how odds are laid out. At your sportsbook of choice, you would see moneyline odds that look something like this:

Pittsburgh Penguins -130

Philadelphia Flyers +120

In this case, the Penguins are the favorite – you can tell this by the minus sign (-). The Flyers are the underdog – as denoted by the plus sign (+). This is universal across all betting sites.

Let’s say you’ve got $30 to play with and you believe that the Pens are going to demolish the Flyers. A bet on the favorite would give you a payout of $53.08 – your original $30 is returned along with your winnings of $23.08.

If you were to take the other side of that bet and the underdog wins, you’d see $66 – you get your $30 back and your prize of $36. The risk associated with Philly is greater, which is why you’d net a bigger payout.

For more info on how much you’d win based on the odds and amount bet, check out our Odds Calculator.

Moneyline Betting vs Pucklines vs Totals

The puckline is the point spread of NHL betting. Instead of betting on a team to win the game, you would be wagering on a squad to win by a certain number. This type of spread bet gives the favorite a disadvantage of 1.5 goals and the underdog an advantage of 1.5 goals. Because hockey is a low-scoring sport, and the typical outcome is 3-2, the fave would need to win by two or more goals, and the dog would need to win outright or not lose by more than two goals.

Totals are another way to bet on the National Hockey League, although not as popular as moneylines. As we mentioned above, the typical game result is 3-2. For this kind of bet, you would wager on the total number of goals for both teams. If you believe the score will be more than the oddsmaker’s set number, you would bet the OVER. If you think the score will be less, you would take the UNDER. Action on NHL OVER/UNDERs isn’t always available at sportsbooks, and when they are, they usually don’t exceed 6.5 goals.

Moneyline Betting Tips

While the NHL certainly has dominant teams every season, any team can win on any given night. With an intense schedule that involves major travel, we often forget that hockey players are human beings that need their rest, and not robots who can go for days without stopping. For this reason, huge favorites are not always worth their high price. If a team is -300 and loses, you could put yourself in a serious hole and have some ground to make up. Make sure when betting favorites that you’re not overextending your bankroll.

Besides watching your money, look out for goalies and energy levels.

Goaltending is Key

The goaltender is very similar to the quarterback in football, transforming a good team into a great one. The netminder can control the game with his unique style, especially if the defense is sorely lacking. Conversely, a team with a mediocre goalie can cost you a pretty penny if you don’t do your research. Having an in-depth knowledge of a goalie’s stats can give you an edge, especially if you’re going with an underdog squad. Our Team Reports section can help you with this.

Energy and Fatigue

Keeping track of team schedules is important when betting the NHL moneyline – or any hockey wager, for that matter. To make your picks, you’ll need to know who is fresh from a home stretch or who is exhausted after a major swing from west to east where hours are lost to time zones.

Many bettors look to bet against teams on the second night of a back-to-back series, most notably when they are up against teams playing on home ice. Tiredness can impact team performance just the same, and determining which squad has energy to spare, and which one will fall asleep the moment they put on their buckets, can be the difference between winning and losing your moneyline bet.

Winning is always better than losing. Just ask Ron Tugnutt, onetime goalie for the Quebec Nordiques (aka the current Colorado Avalanche). His team went 12-61-7 for the 1989-90 season. That’s way too many losses if you ask us, and we don’t want you to experience that.

Stanley Cup Moneyline Betting

During the Finals, many people make moneyline bets since the teams are more evenly matched. This is different than if you were to bet on one team to win the Cup, which would be an NHL futures bet. A future is a wager that can be made as early as the preseason. As soon as there’s hockey buzz, oddsmakers will start listing future odds that are ripe for the betting. It’s better to get in on futures early since the odds will change as teams fall or climb in the standings. On the other hand, Stanley Cup moneylines can be taken up to puckdrop since the odds may not shift at all in the week that they’re set.

Consensus Odds

If you need even more handicapping data to make your NHL moneyline picks, check out our Consensus page. Here, you’ll see which side the betting public is taking. We list the odds and show you the percentage of people wagering on each. You can use this information to shape your wagers if you’re on the fence, or more aptly, the red line.