Ice hockey does not have the global following of soccer or tennis. Even in the United States, sports like American football and basketball are more popular. Ice hockey does have its niche of die-hard supporters that love the fast-paced and sometimes violent body contact action. These fans can leverage their knowledge of the game to advantage at the online betting sites and bet on hockey.
The National Hockey League (NHL) of the USA and Canada is by far the most followed of the professional hockey leagues. Not only America facing betting sites but global ones as well, offer odds on markets in the NHL. Another ice hockey event that excites punters is the Winter Olympics. This occurs only once in four years and the next one is a long time away. This article will focus on the NHL, with particular reference to the 2019-20 Season.
The NHL preseason is held during September and October. The focus is on full training camps and exhibition matches. You may find a few betting sites that offer odds on these matches, but by and large, there is little betting interest. It is time for punters to gather statistical and other information. They should also make assessments about the strengths and weaknesses of the teams.
Betting on Outright Winners
However, this is the right time for punters that like long odds. You have to bet on events that will be decided at the end of the Regular Season and the Postseason. The tournament has not yet begun so betting on these now has greater uncertainty but the rewards are commensurately higher. The outright ice hockey markets for the NHL include:
- Stanley Cup (NHL Championship)
- President’s Trophy (Team with most points at end of Regular Season)
- The two Conference champions
- The four Division champions
Betting on the favourite
The key to smart betting here is to select the market that fits your risk-return curve. At most online betting sites Tampa Bay Lightning is the team favoured to win the 2019-20 NHL Championship. Odds are as follows.
- Tampa Bay winning NHL Championship: 15/2
- Tampa Bay winning Eastern Conference: 11/4
If you are content with winning 11/4 times your bet then you should take the less risky option and bet on Tampa Bay winning the Eastern Conference. If you want a bigger win then you have to take a bigger risk and go for Tampa Bay winning the championship.
Betting on other teams
What if your aim is higher than 15/2 times your bet? Then you have to back another team to win the NHL Championship. The odds currently being offered are as follows:
- Vegas Golden Nights: 11/1
- Boston Bruins: 13/1
- Dallas Stars: 13/1
The odds are not very different and you may be tempted to go by your gut feeling. However, informed punters would evaluate the statistical information before placing the bet. This could include:
- How the teams have fared in the previous few seasons
- What have been the margins of their wins or losses
- Has the induction of new players increased the team strength
- Which teams will they face in this season’s draw
It is important to keep in mind that these markets will be open throughout the championship till they are decided. But odds for the favourite teams are likely to become shorter in the future if they perform well as expected.
The regular season runs from October to April. The league is so structured that each team plays 82 games. At the end of the season, the Division and Conference winners are decided and the elimination bracket for the Stanley Cup playoffs is set.
Head to Head
Betting on individual games forms the thrust of NHL betting during this period. There are several markets on offer. The most common ones are explained below.
- Win the game: Odds are offered on each team winning the game. The favourite team will have the shorter odds.
- Margin: Separate odds may be offered on each margin. Often odds are offered on the margin being greater and lesser than a given number.
- Game score
- Total goals scored by both teams in the game
A commonly used statistic to evaluate a team’s chances in a particular game is the head to head results between the two teams in the last five games. These NHL statistics have to be analyzed carefully and correctly. Winning 3 out of the last five games may lead a punter to believe that team is the stronger one. But if one takes a deeper look the inference may change.
- If a team has lost the last two games and won three before that, it may not be considered the better team on current form. This will be truer if some of the wins were more than a season old.
- If a team has won three games by narrow margins and lost two games by huge margins, then despite more wins it may be considered a weaker team.
This consists of the elimination playoffs between the top 16 teams from the regular season. Punters can obviously bet on the various markets in each game. Some other markets come into play.
Conn Smythe Trophy
This is offered to the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the entire postseason. The award is judged by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association and presented after the final. The markets for the 2019-20 Season have already opened, but it is best to hold on till the regular season ends.
If you analyze the past winners one interesting piece of statistic emerges. Of the 53 past awardees, only eight players were right or left-wingers. Unless there are compelling circumstances one should avoid backing wingers.
Choose The Right Betting Site
All online betting sites are not the same. You have to seek out which is the best for you. Once you have the know-how, find a reputable site that will offer a free bet to get you started. Why wager with your money when you can use freebies provided by betting sites.
You must make sure that the free bets do not have hidden costs. Check that the odds offered by that site are not adverse compared to what other sites are offering.
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