Now that we’re in the second half of the NHL season, we’ll examine the teams that have solidified their top-five standing on the Stanley Cup odds board.
Milestones during the NHL’s regular season play a big part in understanding which teams are contenders and which are just flashes in the pan, and one of those milestones is the mid-way point of the regular season. Now firmly in the second half, we know which teams will be vying for playoff spots come April.
Fans have witnessed tremendous growth for many clubs during the first half of the NHL’s calendar. The Calgary Flames have taken a giant leap forward under new coach Bill Peters after finishing 11th in the Western Conference last season and now sit atop the Pacific Division. Similarly, the New York Islanders struggled in 2017-18, but with the hiring of Barry Trotz, they now own first place in the Metropolitan Division. On the other hand, we’ve watched the familiar favourites continue their dominance, as the Lightning and Jets hold perennial spots in the NHL standings.
Tampa Bay has had their way with the NHL this season and now lead the next closest team by a whopping seven points in the standings. That dominance has allowed the Bolts to rocket up the Stanley Cup odds board to top favourite. While the Lightning were expected to contend this year, there are also surprises among the top five. The Calgary Flames for example, were a +2800 longshot just three months ago, and now sit among the top clubs in the NHL in the standings and in odds to win Stanley Cup glory. While many of the top five won’t be surprises to fans, the way they’ve gotten to those positions may tell you something about their chances at the Cup. Read on as we break down the top contenders.
The Jon Cooper-led Tampa Bay Lightning seem to be a runaway train. Originally playing second fiddle to the Leafs on opening day at +800 in the NHL odds, Tampa has shown time and again how elite they really are. In fact, the Lightning have only lost 10 games in regulation all season.
One reason for their dominance is that they lead all other teams by a wide margin in team offence, scoring an average of 4.00 goals per game. With Nikita Kucherov (22 goals, 56 assists), Brayden Point (30 goals, 34 assists) and Steven Stamkos (26 goals, 31 assists) suiting up for the club every night, it’s no surprise opposing defenses seem lost against Tampa. Don’t be surprised to see the Lightning take the next step in the East this season and challenge for Lord Stanley.
After acquiring Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators last offseason, many prognosticators had put the Sharks among the top five in the NHL Stanley Cup odds. But after a rough start to the season combined with Karlsson registering just 10 assists with no goals in his first 20 games as a Shark, people were questioning San Jose’s future. Since December, though, the Sharks have gone 16-5-2 and are just six points behind the Western Conference-leading Flames. Look for that momentum to carry the Sharks into the postseason and beyond.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were hockey fans’ favourite pick on opening day at +650. And while they’re still among the elite clubs in the NHL, they’ve shown they’re susceptible to cold streaks. The Leafs are 4-6-0 over their last 10 games and have only a one-point cushion between them and the first Wild Card spot currently occupied by the Montreal Canadiens. They’ll need to right the ship in the later stages of the season if they hope to avoid the Wild Card or worse.
After making their first appearance in the Western Conference Finals last season, the Jets were expected to return to that stage and go further this year. As a result, they opened the season third on the NHL betting lines at +850. Fast forward 50 games, and they continue to hold those same odds. Despite an up-and-down season from starting goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and streaky play from sniper Patrik Laine, the Jets hold top spot in the Central Division and seem poised for a strong second half.
They were afterthoughts to open the year, so there’s no question that the Calgary Flames have been the surprise of the season thus far. On the backs of an incredibly balanced offensive attack that has five players with 52 points or more on the season, and standout performance from goaltender David Rittich, the Flames have inserted themselves into the NHL odds conversation at +900.
There’s no faster game in the world of sports than professional hockey. Since 1917, the NHL has captivated its fans with a beautiful combination of dazzling offensive skill, rugged physical force and acrobatic goaltending that can’t be found anywhere else. In Canada, children dream of winning the Stanley Cup and immortalize their favourite players by donning their jerseys. From Gretzky to Lemieux to Crosby, the NHL has produced some of the greatest sports heroes of all time.
With this NHL betting guide, Bodog wants to bring fans closer than ever to the action, so you can take your love of hockey to the next level. Whether you want to bet on your favourite team, predict the Stanley Cup Champion or make the Hart Trophy race extra interesting, you can do that and more at Bodog Sportsbook. Read on for a list of all of the most popular betting options and we’ll explain exactly how to bet on the NHL.
One of the most popular ways to bet on hockey is through NHL puck line betting. If you’re wondering what an NHL puck line bet is, don’t worry – you’re not alone. The puck line is a margin of victory that the dominant team must win by. Often a 1.5-goal spread, the puck line requires the stronger team (the favourite) to win by at least 2 goals, while allowing the underdog to lose by 1 goal and still cover the spread. Through the spread, the puck line evens out the playing field by making the underdog a more enticing pick. This makes it easier to balance the action.
Puck lines are expressed as a spread with odds in parenthesis. We’ll use an example from 1989 when the Calgary Flames were up against the Montreal Canadiens in the Finals:
CAL +1.5 (+150)
MTL –1.5 (–110)
Montreal, the home team, is the favourite in this scenario. The “–“ negative sign in front of the spread always denotes the favourite. In order for a bet on Montreal to win, they must cover the spread by beating the Flames by at least 2 goals. If they win by only 1 goal, the bet loses. As for Calgary, a 1.5-goal underdog, they can lose by 1 goal and still cover the spread. The half-point in the spread ensures that all puck line bets will win or lose. If the spread were 2 goals, and the Canadiens won by 2 goals, bets on Montreal would result in a push.
By looking at the odds in the parenthesis, you can tell how much money you’d win on either bet. Odds with a “–“ negative sign show how much you’d need to bet to make $100, whereas odds with a “+” positive sign show how much you’d win off a $100 bet. In our example, you’d win $150 off a $100 bet on Calgary. As for Montreal, you’d have to put down $110 to win $100. Oddsmakers are able to balance the action between both sides by shifting these odds.
For no spread, betting on the NHL moneyline is available. With these bets, you simply pick the team you think will win the game outright. It doesn’t matter how many goals the team wins by – a win is a win when it comes to the moneyline. These bets are popular when there’s an underdog that looks poised to pull off an upset, as the underdog payout on the NHL moneyline odds board is often higher than what you’d get on the puck line. Let’s use the same example as before to illustrate a moneyline bet.
Montreal is the favourite, as you can tell by the negative sign in front of their odds. They’re also the home team because they’re the second (bottom) team listed. With moneyline betting, you win less money when you bet on the favourite and more money when you bet on the underdog; this ensures the action is spread between both teams.
The payouts that you get from moneyline betting are indicated in the odds, just as they were with the puck line. In this case, you’d win $100 when betting $135 on Montreal; bets scale up and down if you bet more or less than $100. As for Calgary, they had never won a Cup before the big win in 1989, so they were the underdog going into the game. A bet of $100 would have yielded a $170 payout – as they did end up winning that game. Oddsmakers can shift the odds to make sure the action is spread evenly between both teams.
Instead of betting on the winner of a game, you can bet on how offensive or defensive a game will be. NHL game total betting involves guessing if the total number of goals scored between both teams will be Over or Under a number predicted by oddsmakers. Each bet (the Over and the Under) have their own odds attached. Let’s look at the same example:
CAL 5½ (–120)o
MTL 5½ (EVEN)u
In this example, oddsmakers think about 5 or 6 goals will be scored between both teams, so they set the NHL total at 5.5 goals. Once again, the half-number is used to avoid a push. Any time the actual game total matches the total predicted by oddsmakers, the result is graded as a push and all bets are returned.
If you think a lot of goals will be scored, you can bet Over, and if 6 or more goals are scored between both teams, you win. With –120 odds, the Over pays $100 on a $120 bet. If you think the game will be more defensive, betting the Under will get you even money (bet $100 and win $100) if 5 or fewer goals are scored.
In addition to betting on individual NHL games, you can bet on big events by betting on NHL futures. Essentially, any long-term bet is considered a futures bet. Stanley Cup winners, Conference winners, and Division winners can all be found in the futures section of the sportsbook. But keep in mind, you won’t get paid for your bet until the result is settled, which is typically at the end of the season; that’s the nature of futures betting.
Many futures bets are standard and offered every season. For example, at the start of every season, all NHL teams are given odds to win the Stanley Cup. For the 2017-18 season, these odds ranged from +800 to +20000. As the season progresses, the futures odds shift to reflect the probability of each team making it that far. As teams miss out on their opportunity to get into the playoffs, they’re scratched from the futures market.
In general, the further ahead you place your futures bet, the better value you get. There’s less information to go on early in the season, which increases the risk and reward in a proportional way. It’s hard to tell who’s going to win the following year’s Stanley Cup in the offseason, but if you have an idea, you’ll get a big payday if you guess right.
Short for proposition bets, NHL props are a fun way to bet on things other than the winner of a game or event. These side bets are a great way to add interest to the NHL season beyond trying to predict the top-performing teams. Once the oddsmaker comes up with a proposition, appropriate betting options, such as a “Yes” or “No,” a total, or a list of player names will be provided for the public to bet on. Here are some examples of the different ways to bet on props.
A prop on players’ statuses or accomplishments can be found under Player Props. An example of a player prop is whether or not Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid will score in a given game. Another example, which would also fall under NHL Specials, might be: Will Erik Karlsson or Max Pacioretty be traded at the Trade Deadline? This prop would include “Yes” or “No” betting options – each with its own odds.
Anything involving the accomplishments or stats of a team is part of the team props. Examples of team props include regular season win totals and odds for each team making the playoffs.
When there’s a big game coming up, you may want to bet on more than just the winner of the matchup. That’s where game props come in, providing many more opportunities to get involved in the game. For example, you could wager on the team to score first in the game or whether or not the game will go into Overtime.
There are big benefits to grouping bets together. Through NHL parlays, you can combine 2 to 12 lines into one mega bet. Lines that can be parlayed include totals, puck line and NHL line odds, and some props and futures. In order for the parlay to win, each bet within it must win. A single loss in a parlay results in a loss of the entire bet. To balance the increased risk, parlays offer much bigger payouts than single bets. Let’s use an example of an Ottawa Senators vs. Vancouver Canucks game to illustrate the difference in payout.
OTT +130 5½ (+105)o
VAN –150 5½ (–125)u
Let’s say we want to parlay Ottawa winning on the moneyline (+130) with the Under winning on the totals (–125). We’ll put $100 on each line individually for a total of $200 staked. If both bets pan out, we win $210 total. However, if we parlay them together and bet a total of $200, we win $628 if both bets come through. The more teams you have in your parlay, the bigger the payout – as well as the risk.
When using parlays, some of your lines will occasionally result in a push. When this happens, the line is removed from the parlay, which is then reduced in size. For example, if you have a four-team parlay and one bet pushes, your parlay becomes a three-team parlay by default. If you have only two bets in your parlay and one is a push, your parlay will turn into a single bet.
There’s nothing more thrilling than betting on the NHL while the game is happening live. The puck line, moneyline and total are all available for live betting on the NHL, and their odds keep shifting to reflect the direction of the game. You can also bet on things like which team will score next, and which period will have the most goals. If there’s an injury to a key player, the odds will shift to reflect it. These scenarios are often full of value for sports bettors who are good at predicting come-from-behind wins.
If you thought hockey couldn’t get more exciting than it already is, think again. NHL betting will add another layer of excitement to the frenzied pace of the game. Whether you like the big picture betting style of futures, or the detailed nature of props, Bodog Sportsbook’s got you covered for all things NHL.
*Odds as of January 21, 2018