Our winning streak was halted at three last night as the LA Kings could not get back to their defensive style of play and the San Jose Sharks now have a 3-0 stranglehold over the rival Kings. After one period there was just a lone goal on the scoreboard, however three tallies in the second and an early goal in the third put our pick in serious jeopardy. Rookie Tomas Hertl tied the game midway through the final frame and Patrick Marleau emerged as the hero in overtime and the San Jose Sharks have an opportunity to sweep away the Kings and become the first Western Conference team to advance to the second round of the playoffs. Tonight there are three games on the schedule and we will remain in the Western Conference with our pick, looking at a series that is beginning to turn into an emotional battle.
Anaheim Ducks @ Dallas Stars
My Pick – DUCKS (+105) @ 5dimes.eu (Best Odds)
The Ducks and Stars meet for game four of their first round series tonight in Dallas as the Stars look to even the series while the Ducks look to win tonight’s game with the opportunity to close out the series on home ice. Game three of this series started to display the underlying hate these two clubs have for one another as the intensity and physicality of the series was really cranked up a notch or two. It looked like Dallas’ game plan going into their first home game of the playoffs was to agitate the Ducks’ top players and it seemed to work as both Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry took unnecessary penalties during the game, and Getzlaf even got into a gloves-on scrap with Stars pest Antoine Rousel despite wearing a protective shield over his injured and stitched up jaw. I expect Bruce Boudreau to calm his team down and help them realize that Dallas cannot touch them if they play their style of game and stay out of the post-whistle nonsense.
Anaheim was the second best scoring team overall this season with 3.2 goals scored per game this season, and they were also the second best scoring team on the road this season as they score 3.1 goals per game away from the Honda Center. These totals enabled Anaheim to win 17 of their last 24 games on the road and six of their last seven games overall. Although they were shutout by the Stars in game three, Anaheim outshout Dallas by a 37-22 count and really had some great chances to score but were stymied by the spectacular play of Kari Lehtonen. In fact, over their last ten head-to-head tilts, the Ducks average more goals per game, more shots per game, have a powerplay clicking at 21.2%, and a penalty kill that has been successful 92.3% of the time against the Dallas powerplay. Expect the Anaheim powerplay to be better tonight as one of the reasons they couldn’t turn the tide in game three was their inability to capitalize on five powerplay opportunities the Stars provided. The Ducks were 16-12 this season as the underdog, so let’s go with the better team tonight as an underdog to go up 3-1 and have the opportunity to close out the series Friday night at the Honda Center.