Handicapping the Hockey Puck Line
Wagering on hockey is not close in popularity that football is, or even baseball or basketball for that matter, but it should be. There are just as many options when betting on the NHL as there are for the MLB and the NBA. Because hockey does not get the same attention from bettors, the same can be said for hockey oddsmakers, and this provides added value. Here are some things to consider when handicapping the hockey puck line.
The hockey puck line or sometimes called the Canadian Betting Line is a very close cousin to the baseball run line in that the baseball run line is always +/-1.5, while the hockey puck line is always +/-1.5. The puck line is basically a spread-betting variant. If you can properly handicap the hockey puck line, there is a lot of profit to be had.
The puck line will always have a moneyline attached to each team, and will look like this:
Los Angeles Kings (underdog) +1.5-170
What this means is the favorite needs to win by 2 or more goals to win a wager on them and to win a wager on the underdog, they need to win or lose by 1. If the underdog loses by 2 or more goals, you lose that bet.
The associated moneyline work the same as usual where a winning $100 wager on the Jets will win you $150, and you need to bet $170 on the Kings to win $100. The correct situation can be extremely profitable if properly handicapped.
The biggest difference between handicapping the baseball run line and the hockey puck line is there are usually more runs scored in baseball than there are goals scored in hockey. A common baseball total is between 8 and 9, while most hockey totals are 5.5. By this one factor alone, it allows for the outcome of a hockey final score to be within 1 goal more often than in baseball.
The favorite almost always will give you the best value with their moneyline as high as +300 or greater to win by 2 goals. This is because it really is very common for hockey games to end within one goal. However, if you can find the right matchup and exploit a generous moneyline, you can get great odds.
Due to this, betting on the underdog can provide you with a great winning percentage. A friend did up some stats from the 2016-17 season and here are his findings. In 2016-17, the Pittsburgh Penguins were stellar at home, winning 76% of their 41 home games and were favored in all but 2 of them. Of those 41 games, they only won 17 of them by 2 or more goals.
That means the Penguins covered the spread 41% of the time. If you had wagered on the underdog in each of those games in Pittsburgh, you would have won 59% of your bets. A deeper look into team stats show even the worst teams in the NHL cover the spread more than 50% of the time, losing by 1 more often than not. My point is, there is a lot of value wagering on the puck line underdog.
When handicapping the puck line you are looking at basically the same things you would when handicapping any other game. Some of the most important things to look at when handicapping the puck line are injuries, schedules (back to back's), a team's recent play, either good or bad, how a team plays at home vs. on the road and are any players/goalies on a recent hot streak. Hot streaks are more important than you may think in hockey, with a goal able to shut a team out or a position player score enough goals to win the game by himself.
Like any other sport, handicapping hockey takes the proper research to have as many variables figured out in order to properly judge what will happen. Be sure to keep close track of your bets, so you can identify patterns and adjust your handicapping process if needed.
Before I let you go there is one more factor you really need to consider when handicapping the hockey puck line, and that is the empty net goal. When a team is down in hockey with not much time to play, they will pull their goalie so they can put another position player on the ice.
Sometimes this strategy pays off with the team with the extra skater scoring a goal, but it also has the opposite effect. If the team with the empty net give up the puck, the other team as an empty net to shoot on, and if you wagered on the underdog, they just went down 2 goals are your wager is a loser.
By knowing coaching tendencies, whether that is if they pull the goalie often, and with how much time remaining, you can have an edge on this. Sometimes this strategy can be detrimental, but all needs to be taken into account when handicapping the hockey puck line.
Top online sportsbooks also have an adjusted puck line, which switches the moneyline + to the favorite and the - to the underdog. I will get into these more in a later article, but if you feel the line is incorrect, huge value can be found with moneylines as high as +700 or more.
I hope this cleared up any questions you had regarding handicapping the hockey puck line and how they work in general. Dig into your research and handicap some games and see how you would have faired if you wagered on which side you liked. Betting the hockey puck line can be lots of fun, so don't be afraid to mix up your betting routine to include some hockey puck line wagering.
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