How to Bet on NHL

When it comes to sports in Canada, it’s hockey and then everything else. NHL fandom is ingrained in the cultural identity. And when it comes to sports betting, hockey is once more a popular choice.

That is especially true for single-game betting as it becomes the standard for legal sports betting in Canada. Private sports betting apps from major brands like DraftKings and FanDuel will be on NHL fans’ phones, and you’ll be able to place bets from the rafters of Scotiabank Arena to the sports bars of Thunder Bay.

For the uninitiated, here’s how to bet on the NHL online in Ontario.

NHL sportsbooks vs. Pro-Line

Traditionally, the provincial lottery system has run sports betting in ON. Ontario Lottery and Gaming offers Pro-Line, which is available at retail lottery locations as well as on the OLG website. Betting is limited to parlays, which means that all wagering slips must have two or more outcomes.

At legal sportsbooks, single-game betting is the driving force. Parlays are available here, too, but you can also bet individually on each NHL game as well as on specific aspects of a game via props. Pro-Line offers prop betting, as well, but it’s once again a multi-choice wager, and your choices are limited to the listed options.

Which is better? If we run through the pros and cons of private sportsbooks vs. Pro-Line, here’s a quick tale of the tape.

Ontario Lottery and Gaming Pro-Line

  • Features and benefits: Readily accessible throughout the province both in-person and online.
  • Pro: Chance to win nice scores off parlay wagers.
  • Con: Risk increases with each selection you add to a parlay.

Private, legal and regulated NHL sportsbooks in ON

  • Features and benefits: A range of betting options for each game.
  • Pro: Clear-cut odds and lines for each wager.
  • Con: Lots of competition and can be time-consuming to compare options.

If you’ve had some experience with Pro-Line and found some success, then there’s a good chance you’ll be able to transition over to private sportsbooks without a problem. There is a learning curve, but it’s far from insurmountable. The same applies for those new to betting entirely.

How to bet on the NHL online in Ontario

You can sign up at a legal online sportsbook via your computer or phone in just a few minutes. Here are the steps:

  • Click on one of the links on this site to gain access to any bonus offers.
  • You’ll head directly to the sportsbook’s account registration page.
  • Follow the prompts and enter the necessary information — i.e., name, address, etc.
  • If you’ve registered online, download the app directly from the sportsbook website and log in.
  • Make a deposit to fund your account or use any bonus free bets.
  • Scope out potential wagers and get ready to bet.

Once you’ve registered, you’ll have access to a sportsbook at any time. You’ll be able to bet, withdraw funds or simply browse the odds.

One important note: Be sure to always take your business to legal sports betting sites.

What is the best app to bet on hockey?

All of the industry’s top private sportsbooks bring a good deal to the table. The boom time for legal sports betting has translated into lots of competition, and that means you have some excellent platforms to choose from. DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM Sportsbook are among the names at the top of the list.

You’ll find odds and lines for all NHL games at all three books, as well as all of the other top ways to wager on hockey. The functionality edge comes down to user preference. DraftKings is probably the slickest, FanDuel is the most visually appealing and BetMGM is simple to use. Each of the books also excels in specific NHL wagers.

  • DraftKings Sportsbook: Clean layout of all available props.
  • FanDuel Sportsbook: Wide range of props and alternative lines.
  • BetMGM Sportsbook: Daily NHL parlay specials with boosted odds.

The good news is that there are plenty of places to play. You can check this site for reviews to give you a better idea of what’s available.

How to place individual NHL bets

For the NHL, you’ll find a big three of pregame wagers: puck lines, moneylines, and over/unders or totals. There will be odds and lines for all three bets each time there are games on the docket. The average listing for an NHL game looks like this:

  • Ottawa Senators       +1.5 (-130)      +165                O 5.5 (+100)
  • Winnipeg Jets           -1.5 (+110)      -195                 U 5.5 (-120)

When reading odds and lines, negative numbers indicate the favoured or more likely scenario, and positive numbers are for the underdog side. Puck lines and totals show the relevant number right next to the odds for the wager. Here’s how the three bets work.

BetExplanationExample
Puck LineThe side you choose has to cover the puck line. Favourites must win by more than the listed number. Underdogs must avoid losing by more than the listed number.Jets win by a score of 5-3. They’ve covered the puck line, while the Senators have failed to do so. 
MoneylineCorrectly pick the winning side.Senators win by a score of 4-2. Bettors on that side have winning tickets.
TotalOddsmakers set an estimated number of total goals in the game. You wager if the actual total will be over or under that amount.Jets win 4-3. Seven total goals means you win if you bet on the over. 

The odds and lines will move from the initial release in response to betting action, but you can always shop around and compare prices.

NHL props and futures

The above bets are popular, but they’re not the only ways to bet on hockey. You’ll find lots of different wagers at legal sportsbooks, including futures and props, two bets that generate lots of interest. Here’s the gist on both.

A futures wager is a long-term bet, typically on a season-long outcome or involving the playoffs. Odds for the top markets will come out early in the offseason, while others will appear as the season approaches. Here are some of the things you can bet on:

  • 2021 Stanley Cup winner
  • Division and conference winners
  • Teams to make or miss playoffs
  • Over/under on regular-season point totals for each team
  • Individual player awards — Hart, Vezina, etc.
  • Season-long stat leaders — goals, points, etc.

You won’t be able to cash in a winning ticket until the outcome is final, so keep that in mind and budget accordingly. As for the odds, they’ll move just as they would for any other wager in response to betting action. Ultimately, you want to win your bet, but you also want to find your selections at the best possible odds. Line shopping can help immensely with that.

A prop bet is like having a side wager on a game. The wager will be based on the accomplishments of an individual player, team performance or the game as a whole. The exact offerings may vary by book, but here are some examples of what you’ll see.

  • Will Connor McDavid score a goal — yes/no?
  • Which side will have more shots in the game — Vancouver Canucks or Montreal Canadiens?
  • Total points for Johnny Gaudreau — over/under 1.5?

There are props with two choices, like in our examples, and also those with multiple selections, such as which player will score the first goal in a game. You can find the available props for upcoming NHL games by clicking on the individual game listings at most sportsbooks, but some will have specific sections dedicated to these wagers.

Betting on the playoffs and Stanley Cup

Outside of an expanded postseason at the end of the 2019-20 campaign, the NHL playoff format has called for 16 teams since the 1979-80 season. There have been tweaks to seeding and matchups through the years, and another shift is at hand for 2020-21. Here’s how it works.

  • The top four teams in each division qualify, for a total of 16 squads.
  • Clubs are seeded based on divisional finish for the first two rounds.
  • All series are best-of-seven.
  • The winners of the divisional brackets advance to the semifinal round.
  • Teams are then re-seeded by their regular-season point totals.
  • The semifinal winners advance to meet in the Stanley Cup Final.

The current format harks back to the 1980s when the early rounds were also division-based. For a team to advance to the conference finals, it had to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was the best in its division.

When the playoffs roll around, you’ll be able to bet on individual games as they play out, as well as the winner of each series. Stanley Cup futures will remain active, as well. In advance of the postseason, odds for a few favourites might look like this.

  • Colorado Avalanche             +400
  • Tampa Bay Lightning           +600
  • Vegas Golden Knights         +750
  • Toronto Maple Leafs            +800

If you manage to nail the winner, you’ll be in line for a really nice return. For example, if you think this is the year for the Leafs to end a Cup drought that extends back to 1967, you could wager $100 on them to make it happen at odds of +800. If Toronto is the last team standing, the wager will return a profit of $800.

How to live bet on NHL games

After the puck drops, you don’t have to stop wagering. NHL live betting affords you the chance to react in real-time to what’s happening on the ice. There will be updated odds on the outcome based on how things are going, as well as various prop-style bets.

  • What will be the result of this power-play — goal/penalty kill?
  • Which side will score the first goal — Boston Bruins or Buffalo Sabres?
  • How many shots will Kyle Connor take in the game — over/under 3.5?

This is a market that moves really fast. The odds and offerings update frequently throughout the contest. Many online sportsbooks have dedicated sections for live betting, though some will be better than others.

Best NHL bets for beginners

It can take some time to get comfortable with NHL betting, but the effort can be worth it. The chance to win some money from something you enjoy is a huge bonus. When starting out, it can be helpful to focus on one thing before trying to master all of the available options. Here are four scenarios to consider right out of the gate.

1. Prop bets for top goal scorers

If you have any experience with fantasy sports, then you may be most comfortable starting with player props. Try betting on the top scorers in the game and look for trends in their play, as in when they tend to run hot or cold. For a nightly slate, you can focus on a few potential scorers and take your chances.

2. First period unders for teams on back-to-back

Hockey is physically taxing, and rest and recuperation time is vital. As part of the busy NHL schedule, there are times when teams have to play on consecutive nights. When two teams are matched up without having the prior day off, consider wagering on the under for totals bets.

3. For late-season rivals, choose puck line underdogs

Rivalry games are huge highlights of the NHL schedule, especially when the season advances toward the playoffs. When two frequent foes are battling for playoff positioning, the electricity in the arena can be intense. This is also a good time to wager on puck line underdogs in anticipation of a tight game.

4. Multiple choices for Stanley Cup futures

Futures bets offer the potential for great returns while giving you something to root for all year. For the Stanley Cup, spread the risk with multiple choices, including favourites and dark horses. If you budget the right way, one winning ticket can lead to a nice profit.

To be clear, there are absolutely no guarantees when it comes to betting on sports. Anything can and will happen on the ice, after all. That said, the above NHL betting tips can work in the right spots. Just don’t expect them to be akin to an instant cash machine.

Do overtime/shootouts count for hockey betting?

For standard pregame bets, overtime and shootouts will count, as they can determine the final result. This includes for player props, but shootout goals are typically not included in statistical totals for prop bets. All legal sportsbooks have house rules, so take the time to review the details so you know what to expect.

At some books, there are options for “regulation only” or “60 minute” wagers. These are bets on what happens during regulation time and will not include what happens in any overtime or shootout periods. An example of this bet will look like this.

  • 60-minute line: Calgary Flames at Montreal Canadiens
    • Flames            +199
    • Tie                   +320
    • Canadiens      +114

For those who have been burned by an OT or shootout loss, it’s an interesting option to explore. Beyond the regulation-only wagers, there are also alternative lines, as well as markets for specific periods of a game. If you’d rather not deal with extra time, there are ways to remove it from the equation.

How many times has a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup?

The Stanley Cup is the oldest professional sports trophy in North America, with a history that dates back to 1892. It has gone to the NHL champion each year since 1927. Here’s how Canadian teams have fared.

TeamAppearancesRecordMost recent
Montreal Canadiens34*24-91993 — defeated Los Angeles Kings in five games.
Toronto Maple Leafs2113-81967 — defeated Montreal Canadiens in six games.
Edmonton Oilers75-22006 — lost to Carolina Hurricanes in seven games.
Calgary Flames31-22004 — lost to Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games.
Vancouver Canucks30-32011 — lost to Boston Bruins in seven games.
Ottawa Senators10-12007 — lost to Anaheim Ducks in five games.
Winnipeg JetsNoneN/AN/A

* Includes 1919 appearance that ended in a no-decision due to the Spanish flu epidemic.

All told, the current Canadian NHL franchises have a cumulative record of 43-25 in Stanley Cup finals. The last win came in 1993 for the Canadiens, while the last appearance came in 2011 for the Canucks. Here are the cup-winning seasons for the four clubs who have tasted glory.

Canadian Stanley Cup-winning teams

  • Montreal Canadiens: 24
  • Toronto Maple Leafs: 13
  • Edmonton Oilers: 5
  • Calgary Flames: 1

Two now-defunct Canadian franchises have also won the Stanley Cup since it became the signature NHL award: the first edition of the Ottawa Senators in 1927, and the Montreal Maroons in 1935. Since 1927, there has been an all-Canada Stanley Cup final eight times. It last happened in 1989 when the Flames took down the Canadiens in six games.