As with any betting sport, there are many wagers that you can make on the outcomes of the game, but one that you may not be familiar with if you are new to betting on hockey is the puck line.
What Is the Puck Line in Hockey Betting?
A puck line bet is a hockey-specific type of bet similar to a point spread or run line in baseball. Some betting experts like to think of the puck line as a combination of a point spread bet and a moneyline bet.
Because goal scoring in hockey is typically much lower than in other sports such as basketball, football, or even baseball, the spread on the puck line is -1.5 goals for the favorite team and +1.5 goals for the underdog team in every game.
Take a look at the example below:
This example shows that the Washington Capitals are a favorite to win with -114 on the moneyline bet. In this case, a winning bet of $114 would pay out $100 to the bettor. If you were to bet on the Philadelphia Flyers, a winning bet of $100 would pay out $104.
The next section shows the puck line odds with the Flyers being the underdogs and therefore having the advantage as far as the betting is concerned. The team less likely to win always gets you a bigger payout.
A puck line of +1.5 means that for a bet on the Flyers to pay out, the team must either win outright or lose by only one goal. To win a puck line bet placed on the Capitals, the team must win, and they must win by more than one goal.
Puck Line Versus Moneyline
Even though both bets are “lines,” they do differ. If you want to design an effective NHL betting model, you need to understand both types of wagers.
The most significant difference is that a moneyline is a bet based on choosing the winning team, while the puck line is based on goals scored.
A favorite team only covers the puck line if they win by two or more goals, and the underdog team must not lose by any more than one goal.
The tricky part of betting on the puck line is that the two most common final scores for NHL games are 3-2 and 2-1, each only separated by a single goal. Using this data, the underdog is usually going to be the smart money but not always.
Using data from 2005 to 2015, here is a comparison of results for moneylines and puck lines for both the favorites and the underdogs:
The data suggests an inverse relationship with the underdog teams performing better for puck line wagers and the favorite teams being a better return on investment when placing a moneyline bet.
Puck Line Betting Tips
First and foremost, learning how to win, including placing bets, determining odds, and calculating win percentages, is critical. With such low scores, puck line bets require research and planning.
The most common things that affect your research and planning are odds shopping, travel schedules and line-ups, and data trends.
Not every sports betting site will provide the same odds for the same game. It is always a good idea to do some research and find the best price possible with puck lines or any other type of bet.
Travel Schedules and Line-Ups
Check to see what both teams’ recent schedules have been. Is one team fresher than the other? Is one of the teams finishing a stretch of many games in under a week? The more information you have, the more likely you are to win.
If the team has been on a road trip, it is likely that the team’s primary goaltender won’t be in the net for the upcoming game. Other players may be on the injured reserved list.
You can use this information to help determine the odds related to the puck line bet.
Review the data for past games and see if there are any historical trends of how the teams do at covering the puck line.
Similarly, examine the records for road and home game wins and losses. Some teams perform much better at home than they do on the road.
Also, examine empty-net goals (ENG) for both teams. If a team commonly pulls their goaltender earlier than is average for NHL teams, and they give up ENGs, that can significantly impact how you place a puck line bet.
What happens to a puck line bet if an NHL game goes into overtime?
Because an NHL game that goes to overtime (or a final shootout) is decided by a single goal, the puck line bet is effectively settled as soon as the regular play is over. If you chose the favorite team, you lost the puck line bet, while selecting the underdog team means you won the puck line bet.
Can you place live puck line bets?
Yes, you can place a puck line bet almost until the end of the game. The cut-off time can vary depending on who you place your bet with, but in most cases, you can place a puck line bet until around three minutes remain in the game.