It seems like only days since the Tampa Bay Lightning walked off with the 2021 Stanley Cup Trophy. In fact, it was a little more than three months ago. Now the 2021–22 NHL season is ready to get underway. It will be the 104th season the professional teams from Canada and America will challenge for the coveted Stanley Cup.

The first game of the new season gets underway on the evening of October 12, 2021. With the resumption of normality in the sporting calendar, each of the league’s 32 teams will be playing a total of 82 games. Also as normal, the aim for each of them will be to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs that are scheduled to start in May of 2022.

For a lot of sports bettors in the US, this will be the first season they will be allowed to legally wager on NHL games from their home state. That means a lot of novice sports bettors will be wading into waters in which they may not yet be familiar. In the sections below, we will provide some information that sports bettors can use as a guide to bet on NHL games.


Betting Options

If you are planning on wagering on NHL games, you will want to focus on three primary types of wager. The first two options are straight bets on a particular team or side. The first uses the money line and the second uses the “puck line”. The third possibility is a straight bet on the over/under for combined goals scored in the game.

The money line straight bet wager works the same as it does for any other sport. The team you wager on simply has to win the game. If the two teams end up tying, neither side wins, and all bettors will get their wager amount back.

Should you choose to give or take goals on the game, you will be giving or getting 1.5 goals with a money line that will be very close to –110 on both sides. For what it’s worth, you should also have access to a prop bet where the puck line is adjusted to 2.5 goals with higher money lines attached.


Parlays and Over/Unders

For bettors who like to tie games together to form parlays, parlays are available on the NHL. You can bet as many legs as you like with the payouts determined based on the money lines attached to each leg. A parley gives you a chance to cover more games for a lower wager amount and a higher potential return. You can also parlay multiple bets on the same game.

If you like betting on over/under wagers instead of trying to handicap a team winner, the option works the same way as it does for any other major league sport. For the most part, you can expect each game to carry an over/under of between 5 and 7 goals, depending on the matchup. Again, the money line attached to this type of wager will usually be close to –110 on both sides.

Depending on the bookmaker, it’s possible you can find futures odds on teams to win their conferences and the Stanley Cup. You can also look forward to the availability of prop bets in each game. Caesars, BetMGM and PointsBet all offer these betting options.


Handicapping the NHL

As a novice sports bettor, you probably make most of your wagers based on your opinion or gut feelings. While there is nothing wrong with that approach, it’s kind of like blindly throwing a dart and hoping for the best result.

If you want to improve your chances of winning, you can follow what the more experienced sports bettors do. They gather statistical information, analyze it, and look for wagering opportunities where the odds or money line is favorable. If you would be interested in this approach, there are plenty of free and pay websites that offer all kinds of statistical information on players, teams, and how teams match up against one another.


Teams to Watch this Season

As you might expect, U.S. online bookmakers have posted future odds on the winner of the Stanley Cup. While the odds may vary a little from one bookmaker to the next, the assumed top 10 teams look something like this:

  • Colorado Avalanche +450
  • Tampa Bay Lightning +550
  • Vegas Golden Knights +700
  • Toronto Maple Leafs +1100
  • Boston Bruins +1400
  • Carolina Hurricanes +1500
  • New York Islanders +1900
  • Florida Panthers +2000
  • New York Rangers +2000
  • Dallas Stars +2200

You will note that the Lightning is the league’s two-time defending champion, having won the Stanley Cup in 2020 and 2021. Three-Peat anyone? It is very possible given the way they dominated the playoffs last year. With essentially the same team taking to the ice, Tampa Bay fans will be optimistic. With that said, they offer very little value at +550.

Missing from this list is the Montreal Canadians, the team the Lightning beat in last year’s Stanley Cup finals. It was quite a surprise that Montreal made it that far since they held a lower seeding. But the fact remains they did make it that far. With any kind of improvement this year, the current line of Montreal Canadians +2800 seems to offer some value.


2021 Shortened Season

Last season, the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights tied for the best record in the league with 82 points each in a shortened campaign. That would certainly account for the two teams sitting in first and third on the futures odds board. The fact is both teams were quite good during the regular season last year. And there is every reason to believe both of these teams will be solid again this season. But is the abbreviated 2021 schedule a misleading guide as it is a smaller sample size than usual?

Perhaps, the best value on the board is with the Golden Knights at +700. They have been knocking on the door of the playoffs over the last four years running. This could be the year they finally break down the door and claim the franchise’s first-ever Stanley Cup Trophy.