Hockey is one of the most popular sports in Canada and with online sportsbooks in Ontario set to expand, it only makes sense that the National Hockey League odds will see much more betting action from the public.
When betting on the NHL, the most popular bet is probably the moneyline, but there are many more choices than that. This includes the puck line, which is hockey’s version of a point spread.
Moneylines are very matter-of-fact. You pick a team and they either win or lose the game. Here, You choose from the favourite or underdog with the added component of a 1.5-goal spread on both sides.
This complete guide to puck line betting at legal online sportsbooks in Canada has you covered with basic explanations and tips. Let’s begin with the best spots to get in on the action.
NHL puck line odds in Ontario
As you would expect, NHL games are popular at online sportsbooks in Canada. There will be movement on the odds board as a result. Our live odds feed can help you stay on top of the market.
How NHL betting odds work
When you visit an online sportsbook, clicking on the NHL or hockey tab will bring up all of the upcoming games. They’ll appear in order by start time with odds displayed for the moneyline, puck line, and total. Using an example from DraftKings Sportsbook, it will look something like the following:
Using American odds, identify the favourite by locating the team with a negative symbol in front of its moneyline and puck line. If using decimal odds, the lower number represents the favourite.
In this case, the Ottawa Senators are favoured over the Arizona Coyotes, and the total is exactly six goals. Below, we’ll go through specifically betting on the puck line for this game.
Betting on the puck line
You can think of the puck line as the hockey version of a point spread bet for sports such as football and basketball. It is easily identified as the 1.5-goal spread, whether it is -1.5 for the favourite or +1.5 for the underdog.
Similar to point spreads, puck lines are accompanied by a price, also known as the juice. When calculating how much you stand to win or use, simply use that number and repeat the same math you would with a moneyline.
If you’re dealing with a favourite, focus on the juice and not the -1.5 when calculating the odds. Betting on Ottawa -1.5 (+155) means risking $100 to win $155 in profit for a total return of $255 if the Sens win by two or more.
The same goes for the underdog, as a bet on Arizona +1.5 (-180) means risking $180 to win $100 for a total return of $280 if the Coyotes lose by a single goal or win.
The biggest difference between a puck line and a spread is that puck lines will remain at 1.5 goals and the juice will fluctuate similar to the moneyline, rather than the spread adjusting to keep the juice in check between -125 and +100.
Puck line betting goes further than just trying to figure out which side will win the game. Favourites must win by two or more goals, while underdogs can lose by a single goal. Something to consider is that goals are valuable in hockey, so each one is worth a huge amount on the line.
In many cases, the favourite becomes the underdog once you add the -1.5 spread. Just look at our example, where the Sens are -160 on the moneyline but +155 on the puck line because they need to win by two.
On the other side, the Coyotes go from a +140 underdog to a -180 favourite one you give them a free goal. If you want to see odds really start to fluctuate, check out the alternate luck lines.
Alternate puck lines in hockey betting
When you view the main lines for NHL games, the puck line will be 1.5 goals for each one. So if you don’t like that number, just move along and find another bet, right? You can certainly do that, but you can also check the alternate lines for the game.
Online sportsbooks will offer alternate lines for both puck lines and totals. You’ll find them for each game by clicking on that game’s listing. As the lines shift, so will the odds.
Shifting the puck line by just a single goal can lead to a massive swing in the odds. Making Ottawa -2.5 could lead to +260 odds while Arizona +2.5 is down to -370. Some sites will go even further, and the difference in odds will become even wider.
How to calculate puck line odds
There are also online handicapping calculators that you can use, but knowing how to quickly figure out the potential return can still come in handy. For American odds, use the following formulas:
- Negative odds (use absolute value): Wager amount / (Odds/100) = Profit
- $100 bet at odds of -114
- $100 / (114/100)
- $100 / (1.14)
- Profit = $87.72
- Positive odds: Wager amount * (Odds/100) = Profit
- $100 bet at odds of +120
- $100 * (120/100)
- $100 * (1.2)
- Profit = $120
Here is the calculation for decimal odds:
- Wager amount * (Odds – 1) = Profit
- $100 bet at odds of 1.71
- $100 * (1.71-1)
- $100 * (0.71)
- Profit = $71
Calculating the potential payout can also help lead you to possible value opportunities based on any movements that you’ve seen in the odds. However, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t make betting decisions solely on the return potential.
Puck line betting tips
It can be challenging to win consistently with any type of sports bet, puck line included. However, it may be possible with dedication and effort. Here are some tips if you want to give it a shot:
- Know when to pass on the puck line: The NHL season is a lengthy one with plenty of games to choose from. That’s awesome news for bettors, but there’s no rule that says you have to bet on the puck line just because you’re interested in a specific game. If you don’t have a good deal of confidence that one side or the other will cover, take a pass. There will be plenty of other chances throughout the season.
- Track how the odds move for clues: The variance of puck line odds can be an annoyance at times, but you can also use it to your advantage. As you gain experience with sifting through the odds, you’ll learn to spot the games that are attracting the most bets and which direction the public money is heading.
- Study matchup history and recent play: When some clubs hook up on the ice, fireworks follow. Meanwhile, other squads have a tendency to play tight games. As part of your matchup breakdown, take a look back at the last five to 10 meetings between the two teams. In addition, make note of the recent play on both sides: Is either side scoring or giving up lots of goals? The current trajectory may indicate what’s to come in the next game.
When starting out with puck line betting or any other type of wager, keep your expectations realistic. You’re not going to win every bet, but with careful study and picking your spots, you may be able to win more than you lose.
House rules for puck line betting
When you bet at an online sportsbook, there are rules that will cover situations that may impact wagers. For puck line betting specifically, here are the main points to be aware of:
- Unless expressly noted in the wager terms as being a “regulation only” or 60-minute line, bets include the results of any overtime or shootout periods.
- Games that are slightly delayed will remain live as action, while cancellations or postponements will lead to the book voiding wagers.
- Bet settlement uses official game data and statistics, while payouts depend on the odds at the time you placed your bet.
No matter which book you play at, take the time to understand the rules and any other terms and conditions. By knowing what to expect going in, you’ll be more likely to avoid surprises down the road.