The puck line is always going to be -1.5 for the favorite and +1.5 for the underdog and the lines are going to be juiced depending on how evenly the teams match up.
Basically, this means that the favorite would need to win by 2 or more to cover, and the underdog would need to lose by no more than 1, or win straight up.
The logic for betting the puck line is to back the favorite with much more favorable odds, or to increase the likelihood of winning their underdog bet.
Puck Line Examples
The easiest way to conceptualize puck line betting is to provide some examples, so let’s get into it.
In the game above you see that no team is considered the heavy favorite, so there are pretty reasonable moneyline odds. -130 for the favorite, the Oilers, and +110 for the underdog, the Rangers. But, with that said, the odds on the puck line are much more juiced. The Oilers go from -130 moneyline to +190 -1.5. Conversely, the Rangers go from +110 moneyline to incredibly juiced odds at -235 to get them at +1.5.
In this game, a moneyline bet would most likely make the most sense for either side, unless you are incredibly confident in the Oilers.
This game, on the other hand, features a heavy favorite in the Bruins against the Devils. In fact, they are such heavy favorites that even the puck line isn’t plus money.
In this case, it would make more sense to bet on the puck line. Unless, of course, you are confident that the Devils could win outright. Then the bet would be to take their moneyline at heavy + money.
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Puck Line Betting Strategies
As evidenced in the examples above, there isn’t one strategy involving always betting moneyline or puck lines. Each game should be viewed independently, and (obviously) it all depends on the odds.
As you can see from the two examples provided, the odds can have an extremely wide market width. So, in the first game between the Oilers and Rangers, it would make more sense to bet on the moneyline because of how evenly matched the two teams are.
But, in the next game between the Devils and Bruins, betting on the puck line makes more sense. You would get a much higher payout for betting on the favorite, while also having a higher likelihood of winning your bet if you decided to roll with the underdog, just at decreased odds.
Do Puck Lines Include Overtime?
For all intents and purposes, the answer to this question is no. If you bet the puck line and the game goes into overtime, then your bet has already been decided regardless of the overtime outcome. Seems confusing but let me explain.
If you bet the puck line favorite, then you got them at -1.5. So, that means if the game goes into overtime then your bet has lost because in NHL overtime the team that scores the first goal wins and the game is immediately over, and therefore impossible for the favorite to win by 2.
The opposite is true if you bet the underdog. Your bet would have won because you would have them at +1.5, and no matter the overtime outcome they wouldn’t lose by 2.
Putting overtime aside for a second, puck lines also provide the opportunity for backdoor covers. In tight hockey games (within 1-2 goals), teams will frequently pull their goalie to get an extra offensive skater on the ice giving them a man up advantage. This could possibly lead to the 6 on 5 advantage getting the losing team within 1 by scoring a goal, or the winning team going up by 2 by scoring an empty net goal. This is sometimes referred to as praying to “Puck Line Jesus.”
Betting Puck Line or Moneyline
There are advantages and disadvantages of both sides deciding between a puck line or moneyline bet. The puck line allows you to either back the favorite with more favorable odds, or to back the underdog with a higher percentage chance of winning your bet, while the opposite is true for betting moneyline. Betting the favorite means you get worse odds but you only need them to win straight up, whereas betting the underdog gives you a higher payout but less likelihood of chance of winning.
As with every bet, it is not as simple as saying “only bet puck line” or “only bet moneyline.” Unfortunately, the oddsmakers are too smart for that. A bunch of factors should be considered before deciding to bet puck line or moneyline, including injuries, whether goaltenders are being rested, home/road splits, and many others.
What is 3-way Puck Line Betting?
This is another form of puck line betting where a 3rd outcome is introduced: a draw.
In this case, overtime would not count towards the bet. The bet would be decided once the 60 minute regular time is over.
Take the above game for example. The Penguins are pretty heavy favorites against the Flyers. Moneyline for them is pretty juiced at -235, while the puck line is +110. On the other side the Flyers are +195 moneyline and -130 on the puck line. Now let’s take a look at the odds when a draw is added to the equation.
As you can see, things change pretty dramatically. The Penguins go from -235 moneyline all the way down to -145, which is much more manageable. The Flyers now look even juicier with their odds going all the way up to +340, while the draw also looks nice at +320.
This is another way to back the favorite with less juice, or back the underdog with more favorable odds. Or you can bet on the draw, which is a bet on the game going into overtime, with pretty nice odds too!