Hockey Betting Strategies

Hockey Betting Strategy: When to bet on Pucklines


While hockey betting doesn't have a traditional point spread like basketball or football, there is the very similar puckline. A puckline is essentially a 1.5-goal spread between the favorite and underdog. And this creates an interesting dynamic because the favorite almost always becomes an underdog on the betting line. Let's take a look at this below with an example:

Regular Moneyline
Washington Capitals  -145
Florida Panthers  +155

Washington Capitals  -1.5  +185
Florida Panthers  +1.5  -170

As you can see from our made-up example, the Capitals have gone from a -135 favorite to a +185 underdog since they have to cover 1.5 goals. Because the Panthers are being spotted 1.5 goals, they're now the favorite to win on the puckline.

Obviously it's not easy to consistently predict if a hockey team will cover 1.5 goals. This being said, some situations are tougher than others on the puckline and it's a good idea to use discretion with these wagers. So let's take a look at some favorable situations where you might want to bet on the puckline, rather than making a normal moneyline wager.

When a Big Favorite (Puckline Underdog) is offering Great Value


A favorite (puckline underdog) playing at home is always a great bet to win. And this is even truer when the puckline is offering excellent value on the favorite. For instance let's say that, based on extensive research, you think the L.A. Kings are a lock to beat the Phoenix Coyotes at the Staples Center. But your favorite sportsbook is undervaluing them with the following puckline:

L.A. Kings  -1.5  +225
Phoenix Coyotes  +1.5  -195

Now +225 isn't the biggest puckline underdog ever, but if you believe the Kings are close to a sure thing, this offers nice value. Sure there's less than a 50% chance that the Kings will win by two goals or more and make your puckline bet a winner. But if we bet on L.A., we'd only need them to cover the puckline one out of three times to show a long-term profit. Here's a look at the math:

$100 x 3 bets = $300 wagered
1 winning bet = $325 total ($25 profit)

When you want to Maximize Winnings with a Moneyline and Puckline Bet


Continuing on the theme of betting heavy favorites, one good puckline strategy is to make both a moneyline and puckline wager. Again, you need to research the game and have a very good feeling about the superior team before employing this strategy. If you have this feeling, winning both a moneyline and puckline bet can maximize your profits.

Beyond this, a successful moneyline wager can minimize your losses if the favorite only wins by one goal. Let's take a look at how this might work:

You put $160 on the Rangers moneyline below (potential $100 profit)
New York Rangers  -160
Carolina Hurricanes  +170

You put $100 on the Rangers puckline
New York Rangers  -1.5  +190
Carolina Hurricanes  +1.5  -180

Assuming the Rangers only won by a singe goal, you'd lose the $100 puckline bet. However, by making the moneyline wager, you would at least break even with your $100 profit from this bet.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind with this strategy though. First off, if you lose both the moneyline and puckline, it's going to accelerate your losses. So make sure that you've put plenty of thought into the game before betting. Secondly, most sportsbooks won't offer both a moneyline and puckline on the same game. However, this shouldn't be too big of a deal if you're signed up at two online sportsbooks.

When you go with the Underdog in a Fairly Even Matchup

Sometimes you'll see a puckline that looks attractive because both teams seem pretty evenly matched. Now this even matchup may not be so apparent to the public, or else the sportsbook wouldn't offer a puckline on the game. But after researching a game, you may feel like it's going to be a one-goal contest for sure. Before we go on, here's a sample like to look at:

Vancouver Canucks  -1.5  +160
Minnesota Wild  +1.5  -170

Here the Minnesota Wild are only offering $100 profit for every $170 wagered because they're being spotted 1.5 goals. But this is definitely a bet worth making if you're sure that the Wild will lose by one goal or even win.

More than anything, be sure to thoroughly study any game before you make a puckline bet. And if you don't have a good feeling about the puckline on either side, don't be afraid to pass on the game. After all, it's better to just lose your time researching a contest, rather than both your time and money.