What Is the Puck Line in Hockey and When Should You Bet It?

In Hockey, unlike many sports, the Moneyline is the standard option for bettors as opposed to the Point Spread used in Football and Basketball, with teams lined usually in a range of -105 to an extreme high and rare odds Favorite of -500.

And Hockey also offers up bettors a Puck Line market, where sportsbooks make Favorites have to give 1½ goals, usually with a solid plus return on the Moneyline with the Underdogs getting 1½ goals for the 60-minute (and Overtime/SO) games.

You can sort of think of the Puck Line as a Puck Spread instead of a Point Spread with the Spread always at -1½ (goals) and the vigorish (juice) the thing that is moved by the market and not the number like in Basketball and Football betting.

If you wager on the Favorite in Hockey and give (-) 1½ goals, then your team needs to win the game by 2 or more goals, and if you wager on the Underdog +1½, you can win if your team wins outright or loses by 1 goal. It’s simple.

An example from October 2021:

Team Odds
New York Islanders + 1 ½ -225
Carolina Hurricanes -1 ½ +195

So covering using a 1½-goal “spread” is the big thing in Puck Line betting and winning by 1 goal means losing for the Favorites bettor while losing by 1 goal means a Win for the Underdog (+1½) bettor in this particular market.

If a Favorite is laying 1½ goals and also a minus in the Moneyline for a given NHL game, then you know that team is definitely a big Favorite to win outright in that particular spot, and almost always on their Home ice.

In the example, Carolina would have to win by 2 or more goals for Hurricanes bettors giving 1½ goals to win their wagers while players on the Islanders +1½ could win their bets if New York wins outright or loses by only 1 goal.

By betting the favorite Hurricanes -1½ goals, the bettor is increasing the potential with the risk of losing by 1 goal while the underdog Islanders bettors’ ultimate potential payout is also greatly affected by the attached vigorish.

The host Hurricanes are small -123 Favorites with the visiting Islanders the small Underdogs at +111, meaning that a Carolina bettor would have to wager $123 on the Hurricanes in order to win $100 while Islanders $100 bettors would win $111.

So this one is lined by the oddsmakers as a very close game, and bettors willing to lay 1½ goals and back Carolina but would have ended being rewarded by the big +195 odds should the Hurricanes have won by 2 or more goals in the example.

Bettors taking the 1½ goal with the Islanders would have had to bet $225 to win $100, a steep price but it also allows the potential win if you lose by 1. And with Totals in the 5-6½ range, NHL games are low-scoring and that happens quite a bit.

What Is the Alternate Puck Line?

Besides the standard (+/-) 1½, some sportsbooks offer ways to bet Puck Lines at -1, -2, -2½, and so on with different Moneyline odds attached to the specific Puck Lines and the Alternate Puck Line is another market where you have options as a bettor.

If offered, you can even take the Favorite at +1, +1½, +2, +2½, but as the sample from October 2021 below shows, the odds are baked into the numbers as the Hurricanes +2½ -800 price reveals. You can’t get something for nothing.

If you feel a team can win by 2 or more goals and are willing to commit, that betting in the Alternate Puck Line may be for you. If you have a final score in your mind or think a Goaltender may register a Shutout, then here is a place you can get a plus.

For Example:

if you took the Islanders +2 -450 on the Alternate Puck Line for this game, you would only lose if they lost by 3 or more with a 2-goal Loss pushing (money refunded) and a 1-goal Loss or outright Islanders win both winning bets.

Not all online NHL sportsbooks offer Alternate Puck Lines in Hockey, so you may have to look around but it can really end up being more entertaining and worth the effort.

Some Good Games to Try to Use the Puck Line Market

Tuesday, October 19

  • Florida Panthers +1½ at Tampa Bay Lightning (7 pm ET, ESPN+)

Wednesday, October 20

  • Boston Bruins +1½ at Philadelphia Flyers (7:30 pm ET, TNT)

Thursday, October 21

  • Winnipeg Jets -1½ vs Anaheim Ducks (8 pm ET, ESPN+)

Friday, October 22

  • Toronto Maple Leafs -1½ vs San Jose Sharks (6 pm ET, ESPN+)
  • Boston Bruins -1½ at Buffalo Sabres (7 pm ET, ESPN+)

Saturday, October 23

  • Minnesota Wild -1½ vs Anaheim Ducks (6 pm ET, ESPN+)
  • New Jersey Devils -1½ vs Buffalo Sabres (7 pm ET, ESPN+)

Sometimes the Puck Line Is a Better Bet Than Money Line

The Puck Line can be a profitable route for Hockey bettors, with timing and discipline and especially if you feel a Favorite in a particular game will “blow out” the opponent, usually the Road team with most NHL Favorites the Home team.

In short, if you think a team will easily win a game and that it won’t be close for whatever reason(s), then the Puck Line is a nice option and if you think a game will be close, as in 1 goal close, then using the Puck Line with the Underdog can be wise.

There is more perceived value in the Puck Line market compared to the Moneyline in betting Hockey but it might not be quite as entertaining as the real score in the real game doesn’t matter as it does to the Moneyline or the Totals bettors.

Puck Line bets make bettors look for 2 (or more) goal leads or deficits, depending on the individual bettors’ perspective and based on his or her bets.

The Return on Investment (ROI) for Puck Line Favorites is a little worse (about 1 percent) than for Puck Line Underdogs with both losing propositions in the long run. So picking your spots when employing the Puck Line market is the big thing.

So knowing all of this, getting (+) 1½ goals means paying a price (-). And one really big problem that Puck Line Favorite bettors often end up facing at the end of each game that can make or break their wagers is the dreaded Empty Net (en) goal.

Knowing what markets may be best for each game—and often even within a game with Live Betting—and how to bet at the top online sportsbooks in the 2021-22 NHL season is paramount for having a fair chance at winning in the long run.

2021 NHL Puck Line Winner –Wild -1½ vs Ducks on October 23
Kevin Stott

Kevin Stott is a sports writer who has covered the Sports Gambling industry for over 20 years, handicapping sporting events for SportsbookReview, Gaming Today and Bleacher/Report and was an award-winning writer for the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s View Newspapers. Stott is an avid sports bettor and a graduate of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

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