NHL Handicap Betting Guide

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Handicap betting is a form of sports betting used to even the contest when there is a perceived strength differential between two opponents

When you place sports bets on any sport, the handicap line is something that you have available to you and something that you can take advantage of. When using the handicap line in ice hockey, I think it has even more of an advantage because of the way the game is played towards the end and the opportunities that a team has to score.

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When looking at the handicap lines in the NHL betting, more often than not the line will be set at +/-1.5. This is because the NHL games are often very close, we don’t see many blowouts and although teams are fancied to win, winning by three, four or five goals is not something we see often..

The difference between winning by one goal or winning by two goals in ice hockey is far closer than in some other sports, and it is a reason why I often use the handicap betting line when placing bets myself. Here is the scenario to explain why.

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When a team is winning by one goal in an ice hockey game, the opposing team will more than likely pull their netminder off the ice for an additional skater. This can happen in the last 30 seconds, but more often than not it happens for the final minute, and sometimes it can happen longer. This means that the team that is up by one has an open goal to shoot at if they can get control of the puck, and that obviously gives them a better chance of going up by two, opposed to if the netminder remained in the net.

This is something that only happens in ice hockey and something that gives using the handicap line for ice hockey a big advantage to the punter. Those betting on the handicap line in soccer will often see their team drop to a more defensive style if they are up by one goal towards the end, and that means that your handicap bet is less likely to come in if you find yourself in this position. With ice hockey things are different, and that is something that many punters do not realise or understand.

Of course, when you are placing your handicap bets you will hope that your team is clear enough so that you don’t have to worry about this. However, if you do need to worry about it, and you need another goal, ice hockey is probably one of the few sports in the world where a goal is more likely in the final minute when the game only has one goal between the two teams because of what happens.

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Betting odds tell you how likely an event is to happen and tell you how much money you will win

NHL Handicap Betting Odds

When adding another element into your betting like backing on the handicap, you are increasing the odds by adding in something else to the risk of your bet. What punters need to do is look at the bet and see where the value lies, and use that market to place the bet. I would say that more often than not with ice hockey betting, the value lies on the handicap line because of the frequency of late goals in games. If the opposing team scores a late goal then it doesn’t matter because your bet will lose regardless of whether you have placed a 60-minute bet or a handicap bet. However, if your team scores, which they will have a better chance to do, then you will be paid out at far better odds by using the handicap.

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Here is an example from a real-life game:

Pittsburgh vs Ottawa

Pittsburgh are strong favourites to win this game and priced up at 5/9 (1.56) on the 60-minute line to win the game. On the handicap line, they are priced up at 1/1 (2.0) -1.5 goals. This is nearly double the price on offer, so something that punters need to take into consideration and potentially use to their advantage.

If Pittsburgh lose or the game is a draw it doesn’t matter which line you play, if Pittsburgh wins easily then both lines win, the deciding factor has to be what you think will happen if the game has one goal in it as they approach the final few minutes. In this instance, Ottawa would pull their netminder, and leave Pittsburgh with a chance to score an additional goal which would make the handicap bet a winner.

With double the odds on offer, you need Pittsburgh to score an empty net goal and win on the handicap more than 50% of the time to make this bet value. This is a very interesting look from a betting point of view, and a way that you can use the handicap line to increase your winnings. If you believe that Pittsburgh will do this seven times out of ten, or the stats show that this is what they normally do, then at double the odds, the handicap line offers very good value compared to the 60-minute line.

Generally speaking, the odds comparison that I have shown above is what you can expect to see for every NHL game, so roughly you need a handicap bet to land on more than 50% of occasions to make it value using that line.

Whichever line you use, getting value on your bets is how you will get the better of the bookmakers. You should have confidence in your ability to pick winners and should concentrate on ways to find value in what is a very competitive environment. Whether that is by getting a slightly better price elsewhere with another bookmaker or using lines like the handicap line to increase your winnings on a regular basis if you spot something like this.

There are opportunities out there to use the handicap line to your advantage, and with NHL teams pulling their netminders towards the end of a game if there is one goal in it, the NHL offers one of the best handicap opportunities for punters right now.