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A Beginner’s Guide to Ice Hockey Betting

In many parts of the world, ice hockey is a hugely popular sport. The most famous league is the North American National Hockey League (NHL), which consists of 30 teams spread across the United States and Canada. However, there are also highly competitive leagues across Europe, particularly in the northern and eastern countries. 

As such, there are plenty of matches for fans of the sport to bet upon, and due to the nature of the game, each match brings with it a huge number of betting opportunities. If you are new to betting on ice hockey, then in this guide you will find all the information you need to get off to the best possible start.  

Ice Hockey Basics 

Before starting to explain the different types of bets, it is worth quickly going over the game. An ice hockey match is played between two teams, each with six players on the ice at any given time, five players and a goalkeeper. The teams need to score points by hitting the puck into the goal and a match is played out over three 20-minute periods. Each period begins with a “face-off” in which two opposing players try to obtain the puck after it is dropped in the centre circle of the rink. 

Popular Ice Hockey Betting Markets 

You will find that there are a huge number of betting markets available for nearly every ice hockey match, which can be slightly overwhelming. However, there are some basic bets that are very straightforward, and these are an excellent place to start. Here you will find a brief explanation of the most popular of these.  

League/Tournament Outrights 

As with any sport, an outright bet is a bet on a specific team to win a competition. This means that across the course of a season, there will be many ice hockey outright bets available. For example, each year the Ice Hockey World Championship takes place, and you can back a specific team to win it.  

If you are interested in club level ice hockey then each league is likely to bring with it a number of outright bets. For example, in the NHL there are two Divisional titles in each of the two Conferences. The top eight teams from each Conference then compete in the playoffs, which take the form of a knockout tournament. The final two teams in each Conference then play the Conference Finals. The winner of the Eastern Conference receives the Prince of Wales Trophy and the winners of the Western the Clarence S Campbell Bowl. The teams then play each other for the Stanley Cup. The teams can also win the Presidents Trophy. At each stage there are outright markets to take advantage of, each of which give you the chance to win, and the same is true of many other leagues around the world.  

Match Result (End of Regulation Time) 

This is the most basic type of bet that can be placed on an individual match. You simply bet on which team will win. However, the bet does not take into account any overtime. In other words, you are betting on who will be winning at the end of the regulation time of 60 minutes. In competitive ice hockey, games that are tied after 60 minutes will be decided by a golden goal in overtime, and this betting market will not consider that goal.  

Match Result (including OT) 

This is simply a bet on which team will win the match when all of the time is taken into account, including overtime. Just pick a team, and if they win, then so do you.  

Puck Line Handicaps 

You will often here of “Ice Hockey Betting Puck Line”, which is a type of betting market unique to the sport. However, it is essentially a variant of normal spread betting. A point spread is assigned to the favourite and the underdog. Usually, the puck line is set at 1.5; the underdog receives a +1.5 goal puck line handicap, which means that if you bet on them, they must not lose by two or more goals for you to win the bet. Conversely, the favourite receives a -1.5 goal puck line handicap, which means that if you bet on them, they must win by at least 2 goals.  

Goal Totals Over/Under 

This is a very simple bet that can be a lot of fun. It is a bet on whether you think the total number of goals in a game will be more or less than a specific number. For example, if you think it will be a high scoring game, then you may bet on their being +5.5 (in other words, there will be at least 6 goals), if you think it will be a low scoring game then you may bet on -4.5 (which means that there will be no more than 5 goals).  

Correct Score 

This is a bet on what you think the actual score will be at the end of a match, or, if you think it will be tied at the end of regulation time, then you may also bet on that. For example, if you think that team A will beat team B 6 – 1, then that is the score line that you bet upon. There is no need to distinguish between regular time and overtime, you just place your bet on what you think the final score will be.  

Prop Bets 

Prop betting can be a huge amount of fun and add a different kind of excitement to your betting experience. They are bets on specific events within a game, but usually not connected to the overall result. For instance, you can bet on things such as who will win the faceoff, which team will be the first to score, or the number of minutes a specific player will spend in the penalty box. Some prop bets are purely based upon luck; however, many of them give you the chance to place informed bets. There is normally a great range of them on offer, and it is certainly worth spending some time looking at them.  

What to Consider When Betting on Ice Hockey  

There are many different things to consider when betting on ice hockey, each of which can have a big impact on a match. For example, you should look at who the goalkeeper is. Very often, goalies will be given a day off to rest if the team has a long streak of games, and having the reserve goalie play can make a big difference to a team’s success.  

A major part of ice hockey games are Power Plays. This is when a team is punished and has a man sent off for a set time. It is important to look at how teams handle this situation from both sides. For example, does a team usually manage to take advantage of it to score while the other is a man down? Conversely, does the team being punished usually manage to prevent the other from scoring?  

Of course, you should look at the form of the teams that are competing, in particular their home and away form. Some teams will be much stronger when playing on home ground with their fans cheering them on, making them formidable opponents. However, they may then struggle when playing away without the crowd behind them.  

You will also want to consider the teams’ lines. A line is a group of players that are sent onto the ice together at the same time. Both teams’ lines will change throughout the game and you need to understand how the different lines worth together and how they will match up against the opposing team’s lines. This may require some careful research, but it can make a huge difference to how successful your bets are.  

As with any sport, bookmakers choose a favourite ahead of an ice hockey match, and most of the time this will be the home team. However, bookmakers are not always correct, and you may be able to spot some great opportunities. By doing proper research into things such as the two team’s head to head statistics in recent seasons, their form over the last few games, if there are any players missing through injury, and so on, you may spot some great odds that are worth trying to capitalise on.  

Many people neglect to consider a team’s travel schedule. It is hugely important in a physically demanding sport such as ice hockey. Imagine, one team may have had two home games in the preceding week but the other may have had four away games. Clearly, the first of these teams will be fresher when they meet. If the more travelled team is superior, it is up to you to judge what impact the respective travel schedules may have. It will also give you the chance to look for good value odds. For instance, if a team is the favourite to win, but they have been far busier in the preceding week, then you may then wish to back the underdog.  

There is far more that you can consider when placing bets on ice hockey; however, using the above information, you should be able to get off to a fantastic start and with a bit of luck, you will soon be enjoying your first successful ice hockey bets.  

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