This is a 1* free situational puck-line wager on the Dallas Stars over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night (10:05 ET).
These teams have played each other four times this year: Dallas won 3-1 at home on February 8th. Anaheim would then go on to take the next three: 2-1 in Dallas on March 14th, 4-1 in Dallas on April 1st, and 5-2 at home on April 3rd. With that setback on Wednesday, the Stars have lost three in a row. It certainly doesn't get any easier for them after tonight either: after three straight vs. the Ducks, Dallas plays San Jose three times to end the season; LA twice; also Nashville, Chicago, Vancouver, St. Louis and Detroit. Here's a perfect opportunity for the Stars to get untracked and make a serious push to end the year, in what has to considered one of their most difficult stretches of the season. Anaheim's path to the playoffs is a little easier, with opponents such as the Oilers three times, Columbus, Colorado and Calgary. Divisional battles are always the toughest, and that's doubly so at this time of year. The truncated season has caused scheduling anomalies like this, and I simply feel that the Stars will be sick and tired of losing and will be playing with an extreme sense of desperation, as if their playoff hopes were on the line (which in fact they pretty much are). And it's this hunger and focus that I believe justifies in paying the price for the extra 1.5 goals of insurance for the Stars, in what will turn out to be a highly competitive affair.