Suppose you’ve logged on at your favorite sportsbook. Let’s say you like to place your wagers at the SugarHouse sportsbook. You’ve scrolled down through the day’s NHL bet offerings and among the many fine moneyline, total and live betting options, you come across the following line:
New Jersey Devils -1.5 (+175)
St. Louis Blues +1.5 (-150)
What you’ve discovered is the puck line, which is the NHL version of football and basketball’s point spread wager. The main difference between a puck line and a point spread is that on virtually every NHL game, the puck line will be either -1.5 of +1.5, whereas in the case of a point spread, you can find some fairly high numbers, especially if you like to wager on NCAA football.
The puck line, like the point spread, is based on the final score of the game, and is designed to seek to balance out the wagering between favorite and underdog. If a team is listed at -1.5, as the Devils are in this wager, it means that they are the favorites in the game If you opt to wager on the Devils, as favorites, they have been given the added handicap of being required to win the game by at least two goals. But should you place a bet on the Devils and they do cover the puck line, it pays off more handsomely than a moneyline wager on the favorite.
In essence, the puck line turns the favorite into the underdog. The return on the Devils is +175, so you’ll get a $175 profit on a $100 wager on the Devils.
Bet the Blues, though, and you’ll be given the bonus of 1.5 goals. That means St. Louis can lose by a goal and you will still cash a winning wager. But the cost to you of gaining that 1.5-goal advantage is the negative odds of -150 on the Blues. If you want to gain a $100 profit from your wager on the Blues, you’d be required to place a $150 bet.
As you consider at puck line wager at a sportsbook like SugarHouse, keep this in mind as well – a significant number of NHL games finish as one-goal decisions.