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NHL Betting Lines Explained | Hockey Terminology

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For those of you that are new to NHL betting, logging into an online sportsbook for the first time can be quite intimidating.

Sportsbooks like to use certain terminology to make themselves sound like an expert, just like how a doctor, lawyer or accountant would in their respective fields.

Even the most experienced of NHL bettors don’t know everything.

But not to worry.

This guide will explain all the NHL betting terminology you need to know.

Hockey Betting Lines Explained

Here’s a snapshot of some NHL betting lines from Bet365:

NHL betting lines explained

There are multiple terms to break down:

Odds Format

The odds will be displayed as either American, fractional or decimal, based on your personal preference.

Click here to learn how to read NHL odds.

Money Line

Betting on the moneyline is simply betting on who you think is going to win the match.


This is the total number of goals scored in the game.

You either bet over or under this number.


Short for puckline, the line is the NHL’s equivalent to spread betting.

Bookmakers create a margin of victory and you bet whether a team will win by more or less than this line.


This is short for proposition bets.

These are wagers on what happens in the game rather than the result.

A popular example of a prop bet is the team that scores the first goal.

Click here to read about our prop betting strategies.


These are odds on events that happen in the future.

The main future bets in the NHL are on the Stanley Cup, conference winners and division champions.


These are the bets on the result of a certain period, rather than the full match.

There are many other ways to bet on the NHL.

If you come across any of the following in your sportsbook, you’ll be prepared:

Alternate Lines

These follow the same rules as the puckline except with larger handicaps at +-2.5 goals.


This is a combination of two or more bets into a single play.

Double Chance

This bet wins if your selection wins or ties.

However, the odds are significantly reduced as the chances of winning are higher.

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Here is the complete guide to NHL betting terminology

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Here is the complete guide to NHL betting terminology

NHL Betting Terminology

Here is the full list of all other NHL terms you need to know.

Against The Spread

This measures a team’s record against the puckline rather than their number of wins and losses.


This is the total amount of money that you have available to bet on sports.

Click here to learn how to manage a bankroll for sports betting.

Cover The Spread

This refers to when a team exceeds the bookmakers’ expectations for the spread.

For example, if the bookmakers think the favorite will win by more than 1.5 goals and they go on to win by 2 goals or more, they have covered the spread.


This is the advantage you have over the sportsbook.

For example, if you believe you have a 55% chance of winning the bet, you would have a 5% edge over the sportsbook.


This is the team that is most likely to win based on where the money is going.


This is placing a bet on both teams to ensure you always make a profit.

For example, if you place a bet on the Flames to win the Stanley Cup at +1200 and they make it there, you could you hedge your bet by wagering against them at even money.


This is the maximum bet size a sportsbook allows per bet.

Different sportsbooks will have their own maximum bet size.

Line Movement

This is when the sportsbooks change the odds on a match based on the amount of money being bet on a particular side.

Our NHL packages pay particular attention to line movements.


This is when the final score or number of goals falls exactly on the betting line.

If a bet pushes, the original stake is refunded.

Reduced Vig

This is when a sportsbook’s vig is less than the industry standard.


ROI stands for Return On Investment.

This is a way of calculating how much money is made per dollar wagered.

Read this article to learn more about how to make positive ROI from sports betting.

Sharp Money

This is who the sports betting experts and professionals are betting on.


This is when the betting lines move suddenly.

This usually indicates that a large bet has been placed on one side of the betting line so the sportsbooks need to act quickly.


This is the team that is least likely to win based on where the money is going.


A unit is the stake invested – either set a figure or percentage of the bankroll.


This is when the bet has a great chance of winning and will pay out more than it should.

There is particular value from an overpriced underdog.


This is the commission the sportsbooks take from a bet. It is also known as ‘juice’ and ‘margin‘.


This is covers all the terms you’ll need to know when betting on the NHL.

If there are any of these terms you still don’t understand, or you think we may have missed something obvious, leave a comment or let us know on Twitter.

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