Massachusetts Sportsbook Tips: How to Read NHL Betting Odds

Written By Dan Holmes on February 3, 2023
How to read NHL betting odds at Massachusetts sportsbooks, from

We’ve examined strategies and basics for betting on Major League Baseball, as well as the NFL Playoffs. We’ve detailed how to understand parlay bets and the NBA betting in Massachusetts.

Now we’re here to explain the unique opportunities available for NHL betting. Sportsbooks in Massachusetts will offer many ways to wager on professional hockey, including on the Boston Bruins.

With an exciting back-and-forth game that can be dominated by airtight goaltending on any given night, NHL betting can be very enjoyable. When you understand how to read hockey betting odds, you can improve your chances to record winnings.

Retail sportsbooks, including BetMGM Massachusetts at MGM Springfield, are currently live and listing NHL betting odds.

Here’s how to read them.

The Moneyline: What It Means for NHL Betting

To understand moneyline betting, you must be aware of the number 100. That’s what the moneyline is based on. 

For a moneyline with a plus sign, like +200, that means you can win $200 for every $100 you wager.

With a moneyline on a favorite, indicated by -150 for example, that means you’ll need to bet $150 to win $100.

Of course, you are not required to wager $100. You can wager any amount, usually starting at $5. But your moneyline odds are based on $100 bets. A $25 bet on a +200 moneyline would pay out 1/8 of the moneyline (200/25). Which means if your bet were to win, you’d earn $25 in that scenario, plus your original $25 stake.

For most hockey bettors, the moneyline is the best way to put money down on the Bruins or a favorite team. That’s because you don’t need to factor in the “puck line.” Speaking of which …  

READ MORE: How to Bet on the Boston Bruins at Massachusetts Retail Sportsbooks

The Spread in Hockey: Does It Matter?

The point spread (or simply “spread”) is the same as the puck line you may hear about. Like in football, the spread in the NHL is based on the final score.

The favorite will be indicated as -1.5, for example. Which means if you bet the favorite on the puck line, that team needs to win by two goals for your wager to pay out. The same goes for the underdog, which is almost always +1.5 on the spread or puck line.

Massachusetts sports betting apps will list the dog at +1.5 and the favorite at -1.5 for spread odds for most NHL games. Under this format, the sportsbooks are essentially making the game even, as far as odds go. If you wager on the underdog on the puck line, that means that team must either win, tie, or lose by one goal in order for you to win your bet.

The other number on the puck line is the payout. For example:

Boston (-1.5 +150) vs. Chicago (+1.5 +275)

In this example, a $100 wager on the Bruins to win by more than one goal would win you $150. Conversely, because a two-plus-goal win by the Bruins over the Blackhawks is less likely, your $100 bet on Chicago on the puck line would win you $275.

The puck line can be an entertaining and potentially profitable way to bet on NHL games when you think one team can win by two or more goals, or you think an underdog has a chance to keep it close.

Betting Hockey Totals, Over/Under

The Over/Under in hockey is like every other sport. The wager is based on how many goals will be scored in the game by both teams combined. 

Typically, the O/U for NHL games is attached to odds that sportsbooks make as balanced as possible, so they can come out ahead. For example, a glance to most NHL odds shows almost every game will have the Over and the Under at +110 or -115, in that range. That means you’ll not win much on a wager of $100.

But if you watch for opportunities to see larger numbers, say +120 or higher odds on the Over or Under, you could find ways to win more. A recent game between the Kings and Panthers priced the Over at 6.5 goals at +135 odds. That meant if the two teams combined for seven or more goals, your $100 bet would win $235 — your original $100, plus $135.

With Over/Under or totals betting on NHL games, it’s crucial to keep track of the odds as they move. Sportsbooks will often shift odds after they open, based on many factors. The odds may move simply because of betting activity on one side or the other.

You should watch for games where the totals odds shift to one side, because the sportsbook may be trying to balance a lot of bets on the other side. If you feel the odds are off from what you think may happen in that game (the Over will hit, for example), pounce on those totals odds.

ONLINE LAUNCH: These Are the Potential Massachusetts Online Sports Betting Welcome Promos

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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is a Staff Writer for PlayMA with plenty of experience under his belt. Dan has written three books about sports and previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. He also has extensive experience covering the launch of sports betting in other states, including Ohio and Maryland. Currently, Dan is residing in Michigan with his family.

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