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Fantasy Pool Look: West playoff musings

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The post-season starts Wednesday and all across North America, between Saturday and Thursday, friends and colleagues will get together over beer, pop, chips, pizza (name your poison) and select a group of players they hope will provide enough points come June to win the prize (trophy/money/bragging rights/all of the above).

In the West, poolies will jump on the Sharks, Blackhawks, Canucks and the surging Red Wings. Nobody will want the Coyotes, Predators, Avalanche or Kings. Is this right? Probably not. But it’s a fact. However, we all know there is always a Cinderella team – usually one in each conference. If you have several players from said team, chances are you will, at the very least, place among the top three of your pool. What do you have to do? That’s easy – figure out which team.

In most pool formats, I try to make sure the players on my roster are from just four teams. If the pool is a bigger one, say 15 teams of 12 players each, then I expand that to five. In the West I will be going with Vancouver. San Jose has broken my heart – and the heart of millions of others – many times in the past few years. You can only reach for the red button and give yourself an electric shock so many times before you learn not to push the button anymore.

Chicago could go deep as well, but I’m banking on the combination of youth and troublesome goaltending to stop them by the second round. Vancouver has the scoring depth and the goaltending, so they are West No. 1 for me.

For my second West team, I will go with Cinderella. The matchups aren’t set yet, although Colorado playing San Jose seems likely. As long as Nashville does not meet with the Canucks, they will be my other team. They have an excellent system and strong goaltending, which is the way Cinderella teams such as the Wild, Ducks and Flames have reached the final four in the past.

However, if Phoenix plays Los Angeles in the first round, I'll be tempted to go with the Coyotes for similar reasons. It would all depend on which players are left in the last three rounds of my draft. Chances are all members of the Preds and the Yotes will be available and I’ll be able to take the best three. This strategy allows me to concentrate on just three teams up until those final three rounds of drafting.

The three Preds I would shoot for are Patric Hornqvist, Steve Sullivan and Jason Arnott (unless you can choose goalies, in which case I would swap Pekka Rinne for the injury-prone Arnott). From the Coyotes: Wojtek Wolski, Shane Doan and Matt Lombardi (again swapping Lombardi out for Ilya Bryzgalov if goaltending's an option)…

Enough about strategy, let’s talk players.

Don’t forget about Detroit’s Johan Franzen’s metamorphosis around this time. Right about now he should be getting into a telephone booth and emerge donning tights and a cape. Easily the third-best Red Wing to choose…

My pick for the next big playoff warrior – Chicago’s Dave Bolland. He just has all the makings of a leader in the clutch, as he proved several times at the junior level. He also stepped up last spring…

Keep in mind Todd Bertuzzi’s career high in the post-season is…wait for it...(drum roll) points…

Kings’ right winger Justin Williams has been battling one injury or another all season (and career) and when he hasn’t been injured, he’s been recovering from injury. His timing has been off, so his numbers are lower than they deserve to be. However, he’s starting to get the ice time again and his production has picked up accordingly with four points in his past four games. If you like the Kings, he should be ranked fifth ahead of Alex Frolov and behind Ryan Smyth when you look at the final L.A. scoring leaders…

Vancouver’s Mikael Samuelsson is pointless in three games since returning from his upper body injury. Despite setting career-highs this season, he is out of the top six now that Pavol Demitra is healthy. Do not overrate. In fact, at the draft table, treat him as though he has 40 points this year instead of his actual number (53)…

Tuesday we’ll take a look at the Eastern Conference.

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league - check out the latest scoop every Tuesday and Saturday throughout the season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.

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