Betting the NHL total differs from betting the moneyline and the puckline because it has nothing to do with which team wins the game. The only thing that matters when you're betting on hockey totals is how many goals are scored in the game by both teams combined.
Betting the total is also commonly referred to as betting the "Over" or the "Under". That makes sense considering that's exactly what you're doing. On a totals bet, the sportsbook sets a number called "the total" for the number of goals scored in each game. Sports bettors/handicappers must decide whether the combined number of goals scored in the game will go Over or Under this posted total.
Here's an example of a NHL Total Line:
New Jersey 5 (Over -145)
Philadelphia 5 (Under +125)
In this example, the sportsbook has set the total at 5. So, if the final score was New Jersey 4 - Philadelphia 3, anyone who bet the Over would be paid since 4+3=7 which is Over 5 total goals scored. But, if the final score was say, New Jersey 3, Philadelphia 1, then anyone who bet the Under would be paid since 3+1=4 which is Under 5 total goals scored.
What if the final scored ended up being New Jersey 3, Philadelphia 2? In this case the number of goals scored, 5, is the same as the total, also 5. In this instance the result would be a "push" and the bettor would receive their wager back. Most NHL totals are set at 5 so a Push on total bets can be quite common.
Bettors also need to check the odds posted beside the total, which usually differ for every game. In the example above, the Over is favored at -145, while the Under is the underdog at +125. The sportsbook is expecting the number of goals to go Over the total so they are giving higher weighted odds to the Under. This effects the payouts so make sure you examine both the total and the odds closely before placing your wagers.
Did you know that you can buy off goals at 5Dimes Sportsbook?
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