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How to Bet On Hockey – Betting on the NHL Total Line
Hockey may not be one of the biggest betting sports in the game, but when it comes to betting on NHL games, it offers some of the best value on the board at online sportsbooks. There are 31 teams each playing an 82-game regular season. The second season in the playoffs offers four rounds of best-of-seven series in the quest for a Stanley Cup title. It all adds up to more than enough opportunity to generate a solid return on investment if you know how and where to look.
One of the best value bets in the NHL is on the total line. Similar to other sports, you can bet on the OVER or UNDER on the total goals scored in a game. The one twist is the narrow range of this betting line. On an average, the total line ranges from five goals on the low end to six goals on the high end. This makes your range of choices rather limited with just three possible lines (5, 5 ½ and 6). Whether a game ends in regulation or in overtime with a shootout, the final score determines the OVER or UNDER result.
Scoring trends have been on the rise in the NHL, so unless you have the top two defensive teams in the league playing one another, most of the betting lines have gravitated towards 5 ½ goals or six. Another recent change with most books when it comes to setting the total line is the use of an adjusted commission (or juice) for either play. For example, the total line for a standard 10 percent commission would read as follows:
New York Rangers OVER 5 ½ (-110)
Philadelphia Flyers UNDER 5 ½ (-110)
In this situation, the Rangers are the road team since they are listed on the top. When it comes to the actual bet, would have to wager $110 to win $100 on either play.
As a way to shift money on either side of a total bet as opposed to moving the line a half goal either way, the books will tweak the juice you have to pay. Using the example above, this adjusted total line may read:
New York Rangers OVER 5 ½ (-110)
Philadelphia Flyers UNDER 5 ½ (+100)
In this scenario, the books are trying to move some money towards the UNDER in this matchup with zero juice. You only have to bet $100 to win $100. If you decide to bet the OVER in this matchup, you still have to risk $110 to win $100.
The adjusted juice for the NHL total line sets up the perfect opportunity to shop this line across a few different online books to find the best value in the numbers. Saving five or 10 percent commission on one game may not seem to be a big deal, but when you start adding things up over the course of a nine-month NHL season, the savings could be dramatic depending on your betting volume.
There are a number of different factors that go into betting the NHL total line. At the top of the list is a hot goalie. Similar to betting on MLB games based on the starting pitcher, the starting goalie for each team has an impact on the total line for NHL games. Hot goalies can single-handedly alter the outcome of any game with a few key saves here and there.
Keep in mind that even the best goalies in the NHL go through some rough patches over the course of the season, so you need to stay up to date on current form. At the other end of the scale are hot teams on offense that can light the lamp early and often. This is another situation where current form verse overall scoring stats are very important to the handicapping process.