NHL Picks: Ducks vs. Stars

David Lawrence

Friday, February 8, 2013 12:27 PM GMT

The Anaheim Ducks have been one of the league’s early surprises this season. They’ve won seven of their first nine games. However, they’ve done their damage with little help from former All-Star goaltender Jonas Hiller.

http://www.sportsbookreview.com/video/nhl-picks-ducks-vs-stars-v-12923/

Hiller has a 3.54 GAA through five starts so far. Instead, they’ve been buoyed by an unexpected veteran.

On Friday, they’ll take on the Dallas Stars in a game that is virtually a pick on the NHL odds.

Record: 34-40 (-517)

The Anaheim Ducks can win because…

This is a mismatch on special teams. The Ducks hold one of the league’s top power play units at 26.7% while the Dallas Stars, who have been shorthanded 54 times already, kill off 83.3%. That means the Stars have been shorthanded about five times per game.

The Ducks are the better team anyways, but it looks like Dallas will be helping them out regardless.

The difference for the Ducks this year – just as it was in their few spurts last year – is that goaltending has led the way. While Hiller was up and down last year, he’s started down this season and allowed an opportunity for veteran Victor Fasth. Fasth is really a 30-year-old rookie but he spent ample time in the Swedish Elite League as NHL scouts didn’t think he was good enough to play. Turns out most of them were wrong as Fasth has won all four of his starts so far while posting a 0.98 GAA and a .962 save percentage – both of which lead the league. If he’s in net, the Ducks should be in good shape to get the win here.

[gameodds]7/218232/43/us[/gameodds]

The Dallas Stars can win because…

They dominate this series. Last year, the Stars won five of the six meetings and the parameters haven’t really changed much. The Ducks have yet to announce their starting goaltender on Friday and while the idea of Fasth is nice, he might be on the bench of coach Bruce Boudreau opts for Hiller.

Regardless, Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen was 4-1-0 against the Ducks last season while shutting them out in their last two visits to Dallas. If he performs like that again, the Stars should be able to keep up their dominance in this western Conference series

Outlook & Pick

The Ducks have won four straight and have been tough to beat. However, the Stars own this series and have won three of four themselves. For your NHL picks, if Fasth is in net, take the Ducks. If not, take the Stars as they have Hiller’s number.

NHL Picks: Ducks -104 at Pinnacle