Ice hockey is a fast paced, highly physical sport that is played on ice. It originated around 1800 in Canada. The first organized indoor game was played on March 3, 1875. Shortly after in 1877, seven ice hockey rules were codified and the first ice hockey club – the McGill Ice Hockey Club – was formed. Teams began springing up all over Canada and in 1886 the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada (AHAC) was formed. By 1903, the sport had spread worldwide with teams in Canada, the US and Europe. The first professional team - the Portage Lake hockey club – was formed in Houghton, Michigan at this time. In 1909, Ambrose O’Brien founded the National Hockey Association (NHA), which is the direct predecessor to the current National Hockey League (NHL) and the beginning of the game and league that we are familiar with today.
In 1917, the NHA dissolved after disputes between team owners and the NHL was formed. The first of the professional franchises in America – the Boston Bruins – was formed in 1924 and by 1926 there were ten professional franchises across Canada and the US. Since then, the NHL has grown and is now the most prestigious hockey league for players to compete in. The NHL currently has 30 teams, six of which are in Canada.
Ice hockey is now one of the four major North American sports. Because of this, it enjoys some popularity among bettors and online sportsbooks. Not only can fans bet on the NHL regular and post seasons, but many online sportsbooks also offer odds on Olympic Hockey and European League hockey. Betting on ice hockey is simple and pretty similar to other sports. Sportsbooks generally offer several props for hockey games, but the two most common bets are on the Money Line or the Puck Line.
The Money Line is exactly the same as it is in all other sports; you’re betting on who is going to win the game. An example of the Money Line would look like this:
- Detroit Red Wings: -140
- Pittsburgh Penguins: +160
In this case, Detroit is the favorite and Pittsburgh is the underdog. If you want to win $100 on Detroit, you would have to wager $140. However, with the underdog, you are told how much you will win if you put down $100. In this case, if you put $100 down on the Penguins to win, you would get $160 back plus your original bet.
The Puck Line is the most popular bet for ice hockey. It’s known as the Spread and it incorporates the Money Line. For example:
- Detroit Red Wings: -1.5 +17
- Pittsburgh Penguins: +1.5 -215
In this case, the Puck Line changes the Money Line because the underdog (Pittsburgh) is spotted 1 ˝ goals. If you bet on Pittsburgh and they lose by one point, you still win because they are within the spread. If you bet on Detroit to win, they must win by at least two points in order for you to claim the win.
The above odds are displayed in an American format. You can also find decimal or European formats on many online sportsbooks. For more information on odds, check out our explanation of sports betting odds. Or, try out our sports betting odds conversion calculator to display the odds in your preferred format.
Hockey Betting Tips
If you want to put down some money on a team, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- Previous performances. This is especially true when it comes to post season betting. Do a little research (if you’re not already familiar) and see how the team measured up during the regular season. Chances are, if they’ve beaten the team they’re playing four out of six times during the regular season, another win is likely.
- Trades or Injuries. As players come and go from these teams, it can mix up how the team performs as a whole. It may take a few games for new and old players to get into a rhythm with one another. Likewise, injuries can have a huge impact on a team’s performance. If a top defenseman or top scorer is taken out, a team may not perform as well as they usually would.
- The location of the game. Though there is some debate about the advantage of home ice, generally speaking, teams are more confident playing in front of the home crowd. Many teams feed off of the positive energy that a home crowd supplies and it can help them perform better on the ice.