National Hockey League (NHL) is a 32-team league in which each team plays an 82-game regular season. While the last three years have been impacted by the pandemic, the NHL regular season typically runs from October to early April.
In making NHL picks for the average regular-season game, bettors need to be aware of factors such as each team’s record in recent games (whether teams are coming into the game on a hot or cold streak), record at home (or on the road), notable injuries, and starting goaltenders. NHL odds will change dramatically if a star player on either team is injured or if the backup goaltender is playing.
Regular season games involve three 20-minute periods. A five-minute, three-on-three overtime period follows if both teams are tied at the end of regulation. A shootout occurs in the event that neither team scores in overtime.
Playoff games are also three 20-minute periods, but overtime is five-on-five and doesn’t end until one team scores. Five NHL playoff games, including three in the 21st century, have gone into the fifth overtime period.
Understanding NHL Matchups
The most common bet for NHL matchups is the moneyline. Unlike in the NFL or NBA, games are typically decided by a small margin of one or two goals so the point spread isn’t really a feasible betting option. Bettors can still wager on the point spread, also known as the puckline, but it’s almost always listed at (+1.5) or (-1.5) and only reserved for games involving two unmatched teams.
The total, or over/under, is another popular betting option. Rather than selecting a winner, bettors can wager whether there will be more or fewer goals than the over/under betting line, which is usually between 5.5 and 6.5.
There are several other pre- and in-game betting options for NHL matchups, including alternative totals and pucklines, correct score, and player props.