The NHL is set up for a quieter night of hockey on Wednesday. Four games are on the board in total on December 12, but there are some pretty intriguing matchups to choose from. One of these games will be between the Dallas Stars and the Anaheim Ducks. Both teams have had strong starts, which have rewarded them with playoff spots early in the season.
The Stars have gone 16-11-3 to open up this season. Dallas is currently sitting in fourth place of the Central Division. The Stars are coming off a 4-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, which ended a four-game winning streak. Dallas will look to bounce back with a win on the road on Wednesday night.
Anaheim has jumped out to a surprising 16-11-5 start to the season, which has them tied for second place of the Pacific Division with the San Jose Sharks. The Ducks knocked off the New Jersey Devils in their last game. Anaheim has been playing strong of late, winning six of their last seven games. The Ducks have been riddled with injuries but will look to keep the strong start going with a home win against Dallas.
Wednesday night’s meeting between Dallas and Anaheim will mark the third and final matchup of the season series. Both teams have earned playoff spots early in the season, but the Western Conference is still very tightly contested, which means neither team is comfortable with where they are at.
The first game of the season series was hosted by the Stars on October 13. Hampus Lindholm had a two-point night for the Ducks, helping them jump out to a 3-0 lead early. The Stars bounced back with five unanswered goals though. Jamie Benn, John Klingberg, and Alexander Radulov each had a goal and an assist to help give the Stars a 5-3 win at home.
Dallas hosted the second matchup of the season series on October 25. The Ducks saw a solid performance from Ryan Getzlaf, who had two goals in the first half of the game. The Stars once again though, were able to overpower the Ducks as the game went along. Jason Dickinson scored two goals and added an assist as the Stars got another home victory. Ben Bishop turned away 23 shots in route to a 5-2 win.
The Stars have been able to jump out to a 2-0 lead in the season series. Dallas will have a chance to sweep with a road win against the Ducks on Wednesday night. The Stars have been able to put up dominant offensive performances against Anaheim this season and I believe they will have another opportunity to do so on Wednesday night.
The Stars have been hit pretty hard with the injury bug up until this point of the season. Dallas is without Connor Carrick, Stephen Johns, John Klingberg and Marc Methot for an extended period of time. All four of these players are defensemen, which means that the depth of Dallas’ defense is gasping for air.
While the Stars have had their fair share of injury problems, the Ducks have been hit even worse. Right now, Anaheim is without Patrick Eaves, Cam Fowler, Korbinian Holzer, Ryan Miller, and Corey Perry. The Ducks could also be without Rickard Rakell, who is questionable after missing the last two games.
The Stars have had solid production from their special teams up until this part of the season. Dallas’ power play has been scoring at a rate of 19.5 percent, which is slightly below the league average. The Stars penalty kill has been stopping their opponents around 84 percent of the time.
Anaheim’s special teams have not been as good as the Stars this season. The Ducks power play has been scoring at a rate of 16 percent, which is not great. Anaheim’s power play has been decent, stopping their opponent’s chances around 81 percent of the time. Dallas has an edge over Anaheim on special teams in both categories, which could help lead them to a series sweep.
I expect Ben Bishop to start in net for the Stars on Wednesday night. Bishop has gone 10-6-1 in his starts this season. He has posted a .925 save percentage and a GAA of 2.28. Bishop has done extremely well in net for the Stars this season, which has helped them with a lot of their success.
John Gibson will likely get the nod in net for the Ducks matchup against Dallas. Gibson has started this season off with a save percentage of .925 and a 2.59 GAA. In his starts, he has posted a record of 12-9-4. Like Bishop, Gibson has been playing really well for his team, which has been the consistent piece Anaheim needed to start out strong.
Both of these teams are really close to each other in the standings coming into Wednesday night’s game. The Stars have beaten the Ducks in the first two matchups of the season and I believe they have a good chance to sweep. Dallas has less problems due to injuries and a better special teams’ unit. Both goalies are playing similar, which should reflect in a close game.
BetOnline has Anaheim listed as a -113 against the money line. The Ducks are at home, but with the injuries continuing to pile up, I am not sure if Anaheim can maintain their success. Dallas is playing well as of recently and I believe that translates into another win. The Stars were able to overpower the Ducks in the second half of the first two matchups and I believe they can do it again on Wednesday night. I am taking Dallas on the road as underdogs.