The National Hockey League is one of the most popular professional sports leagues in the United States and at online sportsbooks across the country, bettors are offered a huge range of markets to choose from for every game on the schedule.
Throughout the 2021-22 season, let PlayPicks be your guide for daily NHL betting picks including moneylines, puck lines, totals, and props!
Odds are subject to change after picks are published.
NHL BETTING PICKS FOR MAY 26
New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes – 7:00 p.m. ET
If you just look at the box score of the past two games, you’d assume the Rangers dominated both contests with their 7-2 goal advantage. But the way the Rangers have gone about generating those scores has been completely unsustainable. New York had just eight high danger chances in Game 3 while allowing 17 HDCA, yet were able to take the game with ease 3-1. The Rangers followed up that performance with just seven HDCF in Game 4, this time limiting the Hurricanes to 11, and again coasted to a 4-1 victory.
To be fair to New York, this is how they’ve won all season. Igor Shesterkin has masked a below-average defense, while the offense has scored timely goals on a limited number of chances. But as New York continues to outperform its expected stats, the Rangers also continue to build momentum, just as they did winning three straight games to close out the series with Pittsburgh. However, with this series moving back to Carolina for a game, momentum can only take New York so far, and I see Carolina coming out swinging tonight to regain the series lead.
At 5-on-5 in the past two games, if you add up the xG, Carolina comes out on top 5.29 to 3.63. At all strengths, the expected goals scored are 6.89 to 6.6. However, the expected stats can only tell a piece of the story, and Igor Shesterkin has the ability to erase every last expected goal for the Hurricanes. Ultimately, though, I’m betting on true talent coming out on top tonight in a stadium that the Hurricanes have not lost in during these playoffs.
Carolina is a perfect 6-0 at home and that will likely be 7-0 after tonight. But rather than pay the -160 on the moneyline, I’ll wager that the Canes get the job done in regulation at the attractive price of even money.
Pick: Hurricanes in Regulation (+100 play to -110)
Edmonton Oilers at Calgary Flames – 7:00 p.m. ET
Since the start of the season, the Calgary Flames have caught our attention. Through the first month of the season, Calgary was third in expected goal rate and it became clear this was a team we needed to take seriously. By December 1, the Flames led the league in xGF percentage and at that point, we needed to consider if this was a team that could truly win the Cup.
The Flames then added Tyler Toffoli to bolster their third line and continued to play elite defense throughout the season. Calgary ended the year allowing 2.07 goals per 60 at 5-on-5, the lowest in the league, (2.24 xGA), and ended the year with the 5th highest xGF rate at 55.5%.
These numbers were far better than Edmonton, who barely outscored opponents at 5-on-5 (2.72 to 2.6) and relied on their power play to pull away in most games. Yet, even with their strong special teams, Edmonton finished the season with the 10th best xGF rate at all strengths, compared to the Flames at #2 overall. So, it makes sense that despite leading the series 3-1, Edmonton is a reasonably large underdog tonight at +130.
While I believe Calgary is the better team and will prove that tonight on the ice, I’m not willing to pay -150 on the moneyline. If anything, the value tonight is on Edmonton +130, using their momentum to close this series out. I can’t argue with the Oilers moneyline, but for my money, I’ll once again wager that Calgary will win in regulation at the plus money price of +105.
Pick: Hurricanes in Regulation (+105 play to +100)
NHL Player Props Today | May 26
Andrew Mangiapane (Oilers vs. Flames)
Over 1.5 shots on goal (-190 at DraftKings): Mangiapane has gone over this number in three of the four games this series, averaging 3.25 shots on goal per game. He averaged 2.25 shots on goal per game in the regular season, and I believe his odds of going over 1.5 SOG tonight are higher than the 65.52% implied by the -190 price.
NHL Odds For (May 26, 2022)
How to bet on the NHL
Betting on the moneyline simply means picking one team to win the game, regardless of the score. The favorite has a negative moneyline while the underdog has a positive moneyline, and this is how it would look:
- Colorado Avalanche -145
- Boston Bruins +120
When betting moneylines, base all of your calculations on the number 100 to make things easier for yourself.
If taking a favorite, the moneyline represents the amount you’d need to risk to win $100. When it’s an underdog, the moneyline is what you could win if placing a $100 bet. From there, the math is easy when it comes to adjusting for your exact bet amount.
Colorado is the favorite at -145, so a bettor would have to risk $145 to win $100 in profit. Boston is the underdog with a +120 line, meaning a $100 wager could net $120 in winnings.
All standard moneyline bets include overtime unless otherwise stipulated. Bettors may also come across a three-way moneyline, which will also have a ‘draw’ option. These bets are for regulation time only (also called 60-minute lines), and work in a similar fashion to soccer.
A puck line is hockey’s version of a point spread, so that’s the best way to think of it. Because all teams aren’t equal, the puck line can even out the game in a lopsided matchup or offer extra value on teams for a game between two even teams.
Where puck lines differ from a standard NBA or NFL spread is that the line is always -1.5 goals for the favorite and +1.5 goals for the underdog, regardless of the difference in quality between the two teams. This means the juice attached to the puck line can vary depending on the game. Below is an example:
- Colorado Avalanche -1.5 (+180)
- Boston Bruins +1.5 (-220)
The favorite has a -1.5 puck line and must win by two goals. In this case, taking the Avalanche at +180 means risking $100 to win $180. The underdog has a +1.5 puck line and can lose by a single goal and still win the bet. Boston is -220 on the puck line, meaning you’ll need to risk $220 to win $100.
In many cases including our example, the puck line takes a favorite and turns them into an underdog based on the odds getting longer for a -1.5 puck line. The opposite takes place for the underdog, which now gets a lesser line because of the +1.5 being offered.
One thing to be aware of when betting the puck line is the empty net situation. Late in games, teams trailing by one or two goals will generally pull their goaltender in a last-ditch attempt to get back into the contest. This can result in easy goals being scored for the leading team, either winning or losing the puck line bet, depending on the side you’ve taken.
Betting on totals involves picking whether the combined score of the game will go over or under the number set by the sportsbook. Because hockey games don’t have much scoring compared to other sports, the total is usually between 5.5 and 6.5 goals. below is an example of how the odds are laid out:
- Avalanche/Bruins Over 6.5 (-105)
- Avalanche/Bruins Under 6.5 (-115)
Taking the over means needing seven or more goals in the game. At -105 odds, you’d need to risk $105 to win $100. Betting the under requires six or fewer total goals in the game and with a -115 line, it means risking $115 to win $100.
Totals in hockey are similar to point spreads and totals in the NBA and NFL in the sense that the juice for an over or under will range from +100 to -125 in most cases.
Props are bets on in-game events that aren’t the standard moneyline, spread, and total. Most NHL props are centered around a statistical achievement for an individual player but in addition to player props, there are also team and game props to choose from. Below are some examples:
- Anytime/First/Last Goal Scorer
- Player Goals/Assists/Points/Shots On Goal
- Home & Away Team Totals
- Race To X Goals
- First/Last Team To Score
- 60 Minute Props (Regulation Only)
The above list is just some of the props offered for every NHL game on the schedule. Many props have lines that aren’t too different from the moneylines and puck lines you’d see for a normal game, but certain markets generate longer odds more regularly. If you want high payouts, concentrate on picking goal scorers or the exact score of a game.
Futures betting involves placing wagers that won’t settle until some point down the road. These bets can provide a rooting interest for a long period of time while offering a wide range of odds to choose from, depending on the market of course. In hockey, futures betting refers to season-long wagers on the following:
- Stanley Cup Champion
- Eastern/Western Conference Winners
- Division Winners
- To Make The Playoffs
- Individual Player Awards (Hart, Art Ross, Vezina, etc.)
Many futures betting markets including winners of divisions, conferences, and the Stanley Cup will remain open throughout the entire season as live bets. Odds will update based on the action taking place over the course of the season, altering lines every step of the way. Other options must be placed before the start of the season, though it does depend on the sportsbook.
Live betting, also known as in-play betting, involves wagering on games after they’ve already begun. It’s wildly popular with those gambling on NFL, NBA, and MLB games, so it makes sense that the same goes for hockey.
Most pregame markets including moneylines, puck lines, totals, and some props are available after the puck drops, with the sportsbook constantly updating lines as the game progresses. Live betting on the NHL requires quick reactions, as quick trips up and down the ice can result in odds changing every few seconds.
Live betting used to be an option only for those who missed the start of a game, or wanted to hedge a pregame wager. But now, live betting has become a full-blown strategy for many savvy bettors looking for an edge on oddsmakers.
NHL Betting Strategies
Line Shopping: This is a strategy bettors need to employ regardless of sport, but it’s equally as important for hockey as it is for football or basketball. Creating multiple sportsbook accounts will allow you to compare lines at multiple sites and choose the most advantageous odds possible. It may seem like a few cents on the dollar, but consistently getting the best number possible can add up over the long haul.
Bet With The Schedule: Similar to the NBA, the NHL schedule can create ample opportunities for bettors to either back one side or fade another. Each NHL team goes through difficult stretches of the schedule. Hockey teams playing on back-to-back nights for the third time in four days are generally fade targets for bettors. The same goes for four games in six nights or the very last game of a long road trip. Another thing to look out for in these situations is backup goaltenders and players who may be limited or unavailable.
Closing Line Value (CLV): Speaking of earning a few extra cents on the dollar, closing line value helps bettors do just that. This refers to the price you pay for a certain wager compared to the line it closes at. Reading the market can be difficult, but the goal is to bet on a line when it’s at its most valuable. Or at the very least, at an equal or better number than where it sits at closing.
For example, if you bet the Lightning -150 and the odds move to -160 by the time the puck dropped, you gained some closing line value because you got the betting odds. But if you bet Tampa at -160 and the line closed at -150, you lost out on some value compared to where the line closed at.
Advanced Stats Are Your Friend: Gone are the days of only using win/loss records along with goals for and against per game to make betting decisions. As is the case in other sports, advanced stats and analytics are a huge part of today’s NHL, and this data is used widely in the betting community.
Puck-possession stats such as Corsi, Fenwick, Expected Goals, and High Danger Scoring Chances are all metrics to keep in mind when pitting two teams against one another. It also helps to look at special teams stats in games where the penalty boxes could be full. When it comes to goaltenders, focus less on wins and goals against average and more on save percentage, particularly at even strength.
Take Advantage Of Bonus Offers: This is a strategy that can help you earn profits just by giving you more chances to place NHL bets. In the beginning, a deposit bonus or a risk-free bet can result in having site credit to use risk-free on hockey wagers. But even as your time with a sportsbook app progresses, you will be offered NHL-based promotions that can result in free bets, site credit, or boosted odds. Another reason why having multiple sportsbook accounts is helpful is that you gain the ability to take advantage of more sets of promotions.
Best NHL betting apps
DraftKings operates in nearly every state that allows online sports betting, and it’s among the most popular sportsbooks in all of them. New customers can receive a welcome bonus of up to $1,050 at DraftKings. That consists of a $50 free bet handed out once you deposit into your new account, but it also includes a 20 percent bonus up to $1,000 on your very first deposit into the site!
Hockey bettors will enjoy a wide range of betting options from moneylines, puck lines, and totals, to the widest selection of NHL props available. This includes game, team, and player props, in addition to several 60-minute options (regulation only). There are also team and player futures available during the season with live odds updating the lines.
DraftKings also offers frequent promotions centered around the NHL including Bet & Get deals and daily odds boosts.
FanDuel sits beside DraftKings as an industry leader in every state where it operates, which is most of them. As legalized wagering spreads across the United States, so too does FanDuel, and NHL bettors flock to FD on a daily basis during the season. New bettors can receive a risk-free bet up to $1,000 when they sign up, in addition to some other promotions that are offered to existing players.
FanDuel is another site with plenty of options to choose from on top of the conventional markets. This includes alternate puck lines and totals, in addition to several team, player, and game props. What NHL bettors will love about FanDuel is that it offers parlay insurance for hockey wagers each and every day of the season, giving bettors up to $25 back per day if just one leg of their wager loses.
BetMGM has almost as much brand recognition in the sports betting world as DraftKings and FanDuel, and this is another site that hockey bettors will love. Those with new accounts can receive a $1,000 risk-free bet when first signing up and bettors can also enjoy promotions including parlay boost and weekly free bets.
On top of all the standard betting options, BetMGM also offers odds boosts for several pre-built parlays and props every single day. It also offers a wide range of futures markets that aren’t offered mid-season at some other sportsbooks including individual player and coaching awards (Hart, Vezina, Art Ross, Jack Adams, etc.). BetMGM even has some unique futures offerings including a Yes/No prop on whether any Original Six team will win the Stanley Cup.
Caesars Sportsbook is another site that enjoys popularity in all the states where it operates. Following its merger with William Hill, it’s a destination for bettors of many different sports including the NHL.
Caesars is a sportsbook that offers plenty of daily odds boosts, and hockey is never left out of the equation. Don’t be surprised to see up to a dozen odds boosts featuring parlays, props, or a combination of both.
Bettors can earn a $1,100 risk-free bet by signing up before taking advantage of an expansive list of promotions. This includes reload bonuses for existing customers, a large number of odds boosts, and more!