The NFL and NBA may steal the limelight when it comes to team sports, but ice hockey and the National Hockey League (NHL) have their fans, both inside and outside of Canada. According to research in 2021 discussed on the website of consumer and market data company Statista, 93% of the adults surveyed agreed that ice hockey was, to an extent, a part of the Canadian national identity.
Over in the US, and as of December 2021, 12% of respondents in a survey conducted on interest in the NHL in the US stated they were avid fans of the NHL, and interest is clearly increasing. In 2021, the average TV viewership of NHL Stanley Cup games was 2.43 million, whereas in 2022 this number has risen to 4.59 million. Below is a look at the origins of the NHL, how the NHL works, how to bet on games and how beginners can find out more both about betting on the NHL and about the NHL itself.
Where it all began
Originally, the NHL formed in 1917 and consisted of four Canadian teams. Later, in 1924, a US team, the Boston Bruins, joined the league. In 1926, the NHL became the strongest of the leagues in North America and took possession of the most important prize in world hockey, the Stanley Cup. Although the number of teams increased to ten, this number dropped to six and, from 1942 to 1967, stayed that way.
Since then, the NHL has undergone various periods of expansion and reorganization. Today, the league consists of 32 different teams and two conferences, each consisting of two divisions. Even so, the Boston Bruins, the Detroit Red Wings, the Montreal Canadiens, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Chicago Blackhawks and the New York Rangers are considered the “Original Six” of the NHL, and the 1942 to 1967 era of the NHL being those just six teams is still celebrated today.
How the NHL works
The workings of the NHL are straightforward. The season is divided into the regular season, which runs from early October through to early April, and the Stanley Cup playoffs, which determine who will play for the Stanley Cup. During the regular season, the teams face the other teams in their own division three or four times and also play against non-divisional conferences teams three times. The remaining games of the season are interconference games.
The three teams that place the highest in each division, plus two wild card conference teams, go through to the Stanley Cup playoffs. A team wins two points for a win, even in overtime or a shootout, or, if they lose in overtime or a shootout, one point. Teams don’t win any points for losses in regulation time. If a team pulls their goaltender for an extra contender and concedes an empty net goal, they forfeit their point for a loss in overtime.
Betting on the NHL
One of the reasons the NHL is so different from other leagues is the fast-paced nature and intensity of the games. Whereas American football and baseball are slower, in ice hockey the score can shift quickly in favor of one team over the other.
This exhilarating pace is one of the reasons the NHL is so exciting to bet on as well. If you understand NHL odds well enough, you may wish to lay some money down on a game or even a potential Stanley Cup winner.
When it comes to betting on the NHL, there are three main ways you can bet on a game:
- Betting on the moneyline and predicting an outright winner
- Betting the “puck line,” which is essentially betting the spread
- Betting on the under/over, which is on whether the number of goals scored will be under or over the total set by the sportsbooks.
The moneyline bet is the most popular bet and also the most straightforward. Once you understand NHL betting better, you may wish to place props bets, which are more complicated and involve betting on aspects of the game other than the score.
Learning more about the NHL and betting on games in the NHL
The internet is packed with resources that can help you to learn more about both. On the official NHL website you can keep up to date with league news and events, learn about players and teams, access statistics and more. Sports websites and ice hockey bloggers can also provide you with useful information that helps you understand the NHL better and follow it easier.
When it comes to betting on the NHL, sports betting websites offer useful blogs and betting guides. Sports betting enthusiasts also produce content around sports betting, including YouTube videos.
The NHL is growing in popularity, and you may even fancy betting on games. Making the most of all the resources out there on the internet will enable you to understand the NHL better and, hopefully, to place a successful bet.