What is Puck Line Betting? – Puck Line Meaning Explained

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Written by Dan Fitch

Updated: 04:18 am EST, 09/07/2024

The puck line is a term that refers to the points spread in hockey. We’re going to explore the topic of what is puck line betting so that you totally understand how it works and can confidently place bets on this market.

How Does Puck Line Betting Work?

When you click through on a hockey game at online sportsbooks to look at the odds of a game, the puck line is likely to be among the first markets you see, along with the moneyline betting and total goals.

The moneyline simply tasks you with predicting the result of the game, whereas the puck line is a points spread market similar to the run line in baseball.

In high-scoring sports such as football and basketball, the spread is different from game to game, based on the likely points margins between the teams. As hockey is a low-scoring sport, the main puck line is standardized at -1.5 goals for the money line favorite and +1.5 goals for the underdog.

That means that the team with -1.5 goals must win the game by two clear goals. The team with 1.5 goals, must not lose by a margin greater than one goal.

Alternative lines are generally also available. So if you feel that the margin of victory is likely to be bigger, there will be different spreads for you to bet on.

Example of a Puck Line Bet

To better explain puck line meaning, let’s take you through a quick example. Take a look at the odds below:

Before we examine the puck line, pay some attention to the moneyline odds. You’ll notice that the Florida Panthers are the favorites to win the game at -138, while the Edmonton Oilers are the underdogs at +123.

The odds are reasonably tight. The Panthers are not huge favorites, nor are the Oilers big underdogs. Now take a look at the puck line odds.

As the moneyline underdogs, the Oilers have been given a help with +1.5 goals, while the Panthers have been given a handicap of -1.5 goals.

What you’ll notice when you consider the odds is a great example of how spread betting markets can impact prices. On the NHL puck line betting it is now the Oilers with +1.5 that are the favorites at -220. The Panthers with -1.5 are now the underdogs at +190.

Because the two teams were quite closely priced on the moneyline, their betting status has been reversed on the puck line, once the spread has been applied.

The Oilers start with a +1.5 goal advantage. If they win the game or lose by a single goal, then they will win on the puck line. If bettors think that they will at least keep any defeat tight, then this is a great betting option.

Yet if you fancied the Panthers to win and are confident that they can do so with at least a two goal margin, then their odds on the puck line will be very attractive.

The puck line is a market that can level the playing field. Or as we’ve seen with this example, it can reverse the favorites in hockey matches.

Pros & Cons of Puck Line Betting Explained

It would be remiss of us to not consider any disadvantages when exploring the topic of what is puck line betting. Here are the pros and cons as we see them.


  • Great option if there are heavy favorites on moneyline
  • Value to be found if you study the statistics
  • Favorites and underdogs often reversed from moneyline to puck line
  • Alternate puck line bet options available


  • +1.5/-1.5 is not always best spread choice
  • Adds complexity that makes picking winners harder
  • Risky option for a parlay bet

Puck Line Bets vs The Moneyline

So what is the better option when betting on hockey games? Puck line wagers or the moneyline?

That entirely depends on the situation. Ultimately it comes down to making a decision on which form of hockey betting offers the better value. Sometimes that will be the moneyline and sometimes that will be the puck line.

Puck line bets do come with an extra element of risk attached. Wheres you are simply betting on the result with the moneyline, with the puck line you also have to consider the likely scoreline.

For astute bettors, this risk can be worth it when the rewards are sufficient. While hockey betting puck line wagers can be nerve-wracking, the potential for late goals creates great excitement and they are a popular choice amongst NHL fans.

Is There an Alternate Puck Line in Betting?

As we’ve touched on earlier in this article, there are alternative spreads available when wagering on hockey.

The main puck line will be set at 1.5 and is prominently displayed by online sportsbooks. Delve deeper into the available hockey bets and you will find the alternate puck lines.

A team available at +1.5 will also be available at +2.5, +3.5, +4.5 and so on. You will also have the option of betting on that same team with a handicap of -1.5, -2.5, etc.

Sometimes the 1.5 puck line may not be the best betting option for you. These alternatives put you in control, giving you the choice of exactly what spread you want to bet on.

What is Puck Line Betting Strategy That Works?

Now that the question of what is puck line betting has been answered, you may be thinking of placing such a wager yourself. Before you do, consider these tips which will improve your success when you bet on hockey games.

Take Advantage of Live Odds Swings

Even when hockey sports betting moneylines are evenly matched, the oddsmakers must give one team +1.5 goals and the other -1.5. This can create situations where the odds fluctuate wildly, especially during the game.

With live betting at offshore sportsbooks, you can take advantage of this situation. It’s not unusual for the odds to completely reverse during a game, with the puck line favorite becoming the underdog. This presents the opportunity to guarantee a profit, whatever the outcome.

Be Aware of Fan Favorites

In major sports, moneyline odds can be impacted by fans betting on their favorite teams. Sports fans are often blinded by loyalty and will put money on their teams, without much thought as to the value of the bet.

When teams have a large amount of fans, the weight of bets can see those teams priced at shorter odds than should really be the case. Look out for when a hockey team with lots of fans such as the Chicago Blackhawks or Boston Bruins, are moneyline favorites. They will be at a disadvantage on the puck line and there could be value in backing the opposition.

Study the Stats

Crunch those numbers. It’s important to consider the relevant stats when betting on the puck line. How strong are the teams defensively and offensively? An important stat is the average margin of victory.

In the 2023-24 season, some teams such as the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche had average winning margins that exceeded 2.5 goals. Looking at such stats can reveal betting opportunities. There may be some expected value on the regular puck line if you look for it.

Consider Overtime and Empty Net Goals

With few goals scored in hockey, a pretty high percentage of games go into overtime. When a game finishes tied and goes into overtime, if either team scores a single goal, they win that game.

A favorite on the puck line will be looking to win by two goals, so if the game goes to overtime that becomes an impossibility and the underdog wins. Another factor to consider is the possibility of empty net goals.

This typically occurs when the goalie of the losing team comes off in favor of an extra skater. With the net left empty, the opposition can often increase their lead, turning one-goal games into two-goal victories.

Follow Team News and Schedules

Keep up with the latest hockey news. This is especially important when it comes to team selection. If a key player picks up an injury or the coach rests them, it can have a big impact on the puck line.

Coaches may experiment with their line combinations at various points of the season. NHL teams play a lot of games, so the schedule is something to consider, but in terms of the likelihood of lineup changes and fatigue. Teams travelling a lot can tire and underperform as a result.


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