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NHL - National Hockey League

Check out our featured game of the day with best given odds. In order to place a smart bet make sure you read trough our preview of the game and injury report. We are here to minimize your daily online research and help you make the right betting decision.

While basketball is the sport most associated with winter, hockey isn’t too far behind. Hockey has a huge following north of the border in Canada but is also popular in the United States. The sport is most popular in colder climates where the game can be played outdoors as well as indoors.

The sport of hockey has origins that date back to the late 19th century. The first organized indoor game of hockey was played in 1875 in Montreal. Over the rest of the century, hockey’s popularity took off in Canada. At the start of the 20th century, pro leagues began to be established.

In 1917, the National Hockey League (NHL) was formed in Montreal. After consisting of just Canadian teams in its first seven years, the NHL expanded to include franchises from the United States in 1924. The league had some ups and downs over the next four decades. Some franchises were able to thrive while others folded.

Following the lead of other professional sports leagues, like the NFL, NBA and MLB, the NHL experienced tremendous growth during the 1960′s. Before the 1967-68 season, the league doubled in size with the addition of six new teams to join the other six existing franchises. The “Original Six” franchises (Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs) had all been in the league since 1927.

By 1974, there were 18 franchises in the NHL. Over the next 25 years, 12 more franchises were added to bring the league’s total to 30. When the expansions in the league began, there were questions about how well teams in warmer climates would fare.

Many credit hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky for building the sport’s popularity in the 1980′s. After beginning his career with the Edmonton Oilers, Gretzky was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings in the late 1980′s. The NHL soon became a must-see event for movie stars and celebrities in Hollywood. Since Gretzky became a King, the NHL has added franchises in Anaheim, Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, Nashville, Phoenix, Raleigh, San Jose and Tampa. As the NHL has grown over the last four decades, betting on the sport has also increased.

Hockey Betting Basics

Some novice sports fans and bettors don’t enjoy hockey due to the lack of scoring. In a typical NHL game, only about five goals will be scored during an entire contest. An NHL game consists of three, 20-minute periods. If teams are tied after regulation, there is a five-minute, sudden-death overtime period. If the game is still tied after the overtime period, the game is decided in a shootout.

In the shootout, only two players are on the ice. One offensive player will try to score a goal against the goaltender. The team with the most goals in the shootout wins the game. While the shootouts are exciting for even most novice fans and bettors, hockey’s lack of scoring in the overall game can lead to some disinterest for some sports fans. For the NHL, the most common bets are on the money line.

For a money line wager, the bettor simply needs his team to win the game without any regards to the margin of victory. In these lines, overtimes and shootouts are part of the wager.

Another popular betting method for the NHL is a 3-way line. In this wager, the bet applies only to the sixty minutes of regulation play. In a 3-way bet, overtimes and shootouts are not included. For 3-way odds, the favored team will usually be minus half a goal while the underdog squad will be plus half a goal. There will also be money line odds attached to the plus/minus half a goal for each team based from the overall straight line for the game.

The third part of the 3-way line is the draw option. In this type of wager, the bettor wins if the game is tied at the end of regulation. For a typical NHL game, the odds are usually 3/1 on a draw. Some books also have puck line odds which work in the same fashion as baseball run lines. In the puck line odds, the favored team will be -1.5 goals while the underdog will be at +1.5 goals.

Hockey bettors can also bet totals or over/unders on the sport. For NHL over/unders, the overtime/shootout goals are graded as one total goal in the overall total of the game. While these are the most common hockey bets, there are plenty of other options for hockey bettors these days.

With the growth of online sportsbooks in the last decade, the hockey bettor can bet on leagues other than the NHL. Many online sportsbooks book action from several European professional leagues. The NCAA hockey tournament is another betting option for hockey bettors. In addition to the other leagues, the online sportsbooks have also added some other betting options for the NHL and the other pro leagues. Bettors can wager on each period of an NHL game at many books. There are a wide range of prop bets as well for the nightly NHL action at many online sportsbooks.