The Devils are the Garden State’s sole remaining major sports franchise and they generate passionate support across New Jersey. The NHL is therefore a crucial part of the mix for the legal sportsbooks that are springing up across the state following a US Supreme Court decision to strike down the federal ban. New Jersey residents love betting on hockey, and they are never short of options.
Each team plays 82 games across the regular season and the Stanley Cup playoffs rumble on for several months. The Vegas Golden Knights went on a sensational run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2018, becoming the most successful extension franchise in history. That generated a huge spike in NHL betting interest, as Las Vegas has long been the home of sports betting in the US. But Vegas’ status is now under threat, as Atlantic City and other New Jersey hotspots can finally fight back following the state’s victorious efforts to end that federal ban.
Betting on the Devils is set to go through the roof going forwards, but the good people of New Jersey will certainly not restrict themselves to simply backing their local heroes. Each and every division is sure to gain plenty of attention in future, and the excitement will ramp up ahead of the new season. Here are the key betting categories to get to grips with:
A futures wager involves placing a long-term bet on a market that is not necessarily decided by the result of a particular game. Examples are choosing who will win the Stanley Cup, who will win the Eastern Conference and who will seize the Hart Memorial trophy, placing your bet long before likely finalists are determined.
The most popular bet is on the Stanley Cup winner and that will generate plenty of attention during the off-season. Tampa Bay Lightning has been installed as the +900 (9/1 in fractional odds or 10.0 in decimal) favorite to emerge victorious next season. That figure tells you how much you will win if you lay down $100. A $100 bet at +900 would earn you a $900 profit. If that sounds beyond your means, fear not, as it is simply a guide. You could stake $10 and your potential winnings would be $90, while a $5 wager would net you $45 if the Lightning won the Stanley Cup.
The Devils are out at +4000 (40/1 or 41.0) to win the Stanley Cup next year, and that shows they are only given an outside chance of glory, as a $100 stake would net you $4,000. However, the Vegas Golden Knights were +20000 (200/1 or 201.0) to win the Stanley Cup last season, and they came within a whisker of achieving it. Vegas lost to the Caps in the Finals, but it proved that underdogs can thrive in this league.
Where NHL differs from other major US sports is in the range of quirky futures bets it offers fans. You can bet on how many points a number of players will score, who will have the better save percentage out of two goaltenders and so on. Books will also offer lines on Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Hart Memorial Trophy winner and so on.
Spread betting dominates in the NFL and NBA, but moneyline comes to the fore in hockey, as it is a lower scoring sport. It is the most popular wagering option for NHL fans, and you simply have to choose which team you think will win a game. The sportsbooks will offer odds on each team correlating to the respective abilities.
For example, Vegas was the -145 (69/100 or 1.69) favorite in Game 5 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals. A minus symbol in the odds tells you how much you need to stake in order to win $100. So -145 means that you would need to wager $145 in order to make a $100 profit. A $100 stake at odds of -145 would net you a profit of $68.97, while a $10 bet would net you $6.90. When your bet is a winner, you get your stake back, so your total returns would be $16.90.
Washington was the +125 (5/4 or 2.25) underdog, so a $10 bet would have resulted in a profit of $12.50 and returns of $22.50. That shows you that the books felt like Vegas had a better chance of winning, because it enjoyed home advantage, and they therefore offered more attractive odds on the Caps in order to balance the betting. But Washington defied the odds to secure victory, showing that underdogs can have their day.
This market gives one team a handicap of 1.5 goals. As an example, imagine the Philadelphia Flyers are playing the Devils at the Prudential Center, and the moneyline has New Jersey as the -130 (77/100 or 1.77) favorite and Philadelphia as the +130 (13/10 or 2.30) underdog. The puckline would then see Philadelphia given a 1.5 point advantage, and the odds might change to -175 (57/100 or 1.57) on Philadelphia +1.5 points, and +150 (3/2 or 2.50) on New Jersey -1.5 points. The handicap has skewed it in Philadelphia’s favour. You can back the Flyers and if they either win or lose by a goal, your bet pays out. But if you back the Devils, they would have to win by two or more goals for your to succeed, although your rewards are far more lucrative. You sometimes see alternative pucklines of 2.5 points and 3.5 points, and they result in dramatically skewed odds.
This is an interesting option if you are unsure which team will prevail, but you have a strong idea of whether it will be a high-scoring game or a low-scoring game. The sportsbooks will set a line for the total goals, say 8.5, and you simply have to guess whether the accumulated goals both teams score will go above or below that figure. In general, both outcomes carry a similar set of odds. You can get alternative lines – if the official line was 8.5 points, some books might offer 7.5 or 9.5 – and they skew the odds, but they can offer more generous returns or less risky options, depending on which way you go.
This is a simple wager on what the final score will be in the game. The odds are far more attractive than if you simply guess who will win, as it is a lot harder to nail the precise score. To make life easier, you can cover a few correct scores as an insurance policy.
These are special bets within a particular game that do not necessarily pertain to the final result. You can wager on which team will score the first goal, who will win the second period and so on. Quirkier options include how many saves a goaltender will make in a game (over or under 24.5, for example), whether a player will score two or more goals in a game, whether a goaltender will secure a shutout and so on. The odds vary depending on how likely each outcome is.
You can add multiple selections to a single bet, accruing higher odds with every team you throw in. You could back the Devils, the Flyers, the Caps and the Oilers to all win in the same weekend, and if any of them lost your bet would bust, but if they all came in you would be rewarded with a hefty pay out. You are not limited to moneyline betting with parlays, as you can add in spreads and totals bets to accumulate greater odds.
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