By Dave Schwab

Even if you are just a casual sports bettor, when it comes to the NHL, the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs add a whole new level of excitement to this sport when the postseason action gets underway. To make the most of this time of the year, you need an online sportsbook that jumps out way ahead of the curve when it comes to the variety of betting options it offers for the NHL.

While all the top books will offer moneyline odds, totals and puck lines for all the playoff games, you want to look for one that really dials up the action with an expanded lineup of futures odds as well as an extended list of props for games, teams and players. There is nothing more exciting that live in-game betting when it comes to playoff hockey.

The action is fast and furious this time of the year when the best teams in the league battle through each best-of-seven round for one of two spots in the Stanley Cup Finals. Having the opportunity to bet on the games after the puck actually drops offers a great chance to build your overall betting bankroll.

One of the best things about the NHL postseason is the gap between the favorite in a series is not always that wide against the underdog. Upsets are common, which in turn offer some great chances to make money off the underdogs with favorable moneyline odds. This is where shopping the game lines across a few of your favorite sportsbooks becomes a very viable betting strategy if you like the underdog in any particular matchup. An extra five or 10 points on a moneyline in your favor can really start to add up over the course of a postseason that lasts more than two months.

You can also find some solid value in a total line bet by riding the UNDER on a hot goalie. There are numerous examples of a single goalie’s performance between the pipes carrying a team deep into the postseason. When you get two hot goalies facing one another over the course of a probable seven-game series, you can really make some money by shopping for the best odds on a total line bet. Since most online books tend to stay with 5 or 5.5 for their total betting line, they will make their adjustments in a corresponding moneyline to try and balance things out. While the risk on an inflated moneyline to bet the UNDER does tend to go up with two solid goalies in net, there is still a pretty good chance that total combined score will be less than five goals.

The real excitement with playoff hockey is with all the added betting action it brings to the table. Starting with the basic futures bet to win both a conference title as well as this season’s Stanley Cup, you can expand your betting options to series prices for all the matchups. As mentioned, underdogs have a way of upsetting the field in the NHL postseason, so before any of the action starts on the ice, make sure that you find an online book that offers an extended lineup of futures to take advantage of.

Prop bets for hockey are another great way to cash in on the games. They can vary from one book to the next so it is worth the extra time it takes to check out the daily selection across of few of your favorite online betting sites. If you are taking the time to thoroughly handicap an individual matchup for a moneyline or total bet, then you are bound to find some added value in few corresponding props for that particular game.