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If you want to get the most out of your hockey betting then it’s important to understand the nuances of different betting options.  One of the most popular options for the NHL is the puck line bet.  This article delves into the meanings and basics of puck line betting so you can navigate your way through finding more winning wagers this season.

Understanding What the Puck Line Means in Hockey Betting

At its core, the puck line is hockey’s version of the point spread commonly seen in basketball and football.  It’s very similar to the run line in baseball.

When you bet using the puck line, the favorite has a handicap of -1.5 goals.  This means they not only have to win but by two or more goals for your bet to cash.

Conversely, if you take the underdog you get a +1.5 goal advantage.  Your bet will cash if your team wins or loses by a single goal.

This adds a little more strategy to your hockey wagering options and might give you a few more opportunities to cash in bets.

Let’s take a look at an example from live NHL odds:

TeamMoneylinePuck Line
New York+180+1.5 (-120)
Philadelphia-220-1.5 (+100)

For the above Philadelphia is a hefty favorite over New York.  At -220 the books are saying they expect Philadelphia to win around 66% of the time.  But, if you choose to take them on the puck line you can get +100. Instead of betting $220 for every $100 you want to win, you get to wager $100 to win $100.

Backing New York with a moneyline bet means you wager $100 to win $180, but if you want to get the cushion of losing by a goal you now have to wager $120 to win $100 with a puck line bet.

You might want to check out what moneylines are if you need a primer there too.

NHL Puckline Betting Explained for Beginners

The NHL puck line betting options are expanding.  That includes plenty of new options that gamblers can explore for an edge.  I always say “chaos creates opportunity” so when something new is on the horizon, if you can figure out an edge before the books get clued in you can make some serious money on puck line odds.

Period Pucklines

A period puck line bet is a wager on a period in an individual game.  First-period lines are the most popular and you’ll see the favorites at -0.5 instead of -1.5.  The underdogs will only get +0.5 instead of +1.5.  This might not seem like much, but getting the tie to go in your favor will change the fortunes of plenty of bets.

For handicapping these period wagers you’ll want to study how the teams do at different points in the game.  Some teams start out fast, others have to wait a while to find their groove.  The right matchup might create an advantage for you to use.

Reverse Pucklines

The reverse puck line can be an intriguing option for bettors too.  If you really like an underdog in a certain situation you can increase your payout significantly by laying the goal and a half instead of just taking the moneyline.

You can also take the favorite at +1.5 goals, but you are really going to have to pay for that kind of safety net. The time to consider it is if you feel really strongly about a team’s defense, but not great about their chances of scoring a lot of goals.

Alternate Puck lines

If you a really confident in a favorite you might want to look at the alternate pucklines.  This is where you are going to lay 2.5 goals instead of the standard 1.5.  The favorite has to win by three or more goals, which can be a tall order unless it’s a high-scoring game.

Choosing to take an underdog up to +2.5 goals sounds great in theory, but the books aren’t dumb.  You are going to pay a hefty price to get this kind of cushion.

Why Take the Puck Line Instead of the Money Line?

So if you like the favorite why would you lay the 1.5 goals instead of taking the team straight up?  Well, it’s because you can get a better payout by handicapping the team a little bit.  You can check our moneyline converson chart to see what implied percentages line up with each set of odds.

You see attached to the puck line is still a money line of sorts.  You won’t have to risk as much to win the same amount, in fact, you might take the team into plus money territory.

It also works to take heavy favorites down to a more reasonable number, making it easier to swallow betting on that team when you aren’t risking a large portion of your bankroll on one outcome.

On the other hand, if you like the underdog but think it’s going to be low-scoring, you might choose to add the +1.5 goal safety net to your wager.  Just remember that you’ll have to pay for it.  You’ll lower the payout that you would get if you took the same team to win the game outright.

It can be tough to take big underdogs, knowing that they only have a small chance to win the game.  It can be a little easier to stomach taking them if you get a goal cushion and still are getting plus money.

NHL Strategy and Hockey Betting Advice for Taking Puck Line Bets

While it’s tempting to take the more attractive odds on favorites, it’s not without its pitfalls.  NHL games are competitive and are oftentimes decided by a single goal.  In fact, about half of NHL games are one-goal games.

The higher the score of the game, the more of a chance you have of it being decided by two goals or more, so pay attention to the total.  If the over/under is under six then it’s much more likely to be a close one.

So seeing that stat might lead you to believe that taking the +1.5 every time would be a good idea, but not so fast my friend.  Teams are getting more advanced with their analytics and using empty nets at the end of games.  This is leading to more easy goals for teams in the lead to close out the contest.

If you dive into the statistics you might find an advantage with your puck line betting tips. The questions you’ll want to find answers to are:

  1. How does the team play the end game when down by a goal?
  2. Do you think it’s going to be a high-scoring game or a low-score affair?
  3. When the team gets a lead do they try to control the puck or put the pedal to the metal?

Starting there will give you a good idea if you have found an edge with the puck line.  Or, if you want to save yourself the work you can always check out some of the best NHL handicappers in the world, right here at BoydsBets.

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