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Poolies learn from triumphs and mistakes as fantasy hockey season winds down

What did I do right and where did I go wrong?

Poolies are asking themselves that question at this time of year, regardless of where they sit in fantasy league standings. After all, you can learn from both your triumphs and your mistakes. And the next draft is only five months away, right?

Your friendly puck prognosticators are also pondering the past, pleased to have been on target with some players but wondering how we missed the missed the mark entirely with others.

Of course, we like to think you poolies will only remember our great advice and might forget those picks that were less than stellar.

Sure, there were injuries - nothing we can do about that. And stars are born that nobody sees coming.

He Shoots He Scores - Everyone loves the breakout player. Having one or two of these low-round high-payoff picks can make the difference between winning and losing.

On that front we hope poolies heeded our advice to grab Mike Ribiero of the Dallas Stars. We also scored beautifully with Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals as a top rookie and were correct in predicting a big breakout campaign for Brad Boyes of the St. Louis Blues and stardom for Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks. Alexander Radulov of the Nashville Predators was indeed a nice sleeper pick.

Ten Feet Wide - On the other hand, not all that glitters was gold. We really thought Kyle Wellwood of the Toronto Maple Leafs would step up this year. But we were really wrong.

Injuries might serve as an excuse for Buffalo Sabres centre Tim Connolly's sad season, but that won't wash in Toronto or in fantasyland where Wellwood was simply pathetic. The same goes for Matthew Lombardi of the Calgary Flames, goaltender Chris Mason and defenceman Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators.

Sorry about that, poolies.

Screened - Wouldn't we be feeling smug right now if we predicted in the pre-season that Mike Richards of the Philadelphia Flyers would have a career year? Nope, didn't see that coming. And most poolies probably didn't either.

As a matter of fact, it's likely that breakout players Patrick Sharp of the Chicago Blackhawks and defenceman Mike Green of the Capitals were not on any rosters on draft day.

And did anyone anywhere expect Alexei Kovalev of the Montreal Canadiens to bounce back so impressively this season? Doubt it.

Top Shelf - In taking a gander at how the final scoring parade might line up, we can now beat our own drum on two player predictions in particular. We said Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings would take his place among the elite this season, and Mats Sundin of the Maple Leafs would crack the top 20.

We also said that Washington wunderkind Alexander Ovechkin had a shot at 60 goals - but in truth some predictions simply qualify as no-brainers.

Fanned On The Shot - OK, the crystal ball told us Jaromir Jagr's production would slip a little this season. A little? He will barely crack the top 50 this year. Our crystal ball obviously needs polishing.

We also overestimated the production from Jason Blake of the Maple Leafs and Alex Tanguay of the Calgary Flames. And honestly, we were just as disappointed with defencemen Sheldon Souray of the Edmonton Oilers as you.

Hit The Post - It's nice to be in Lady Luck's good books, but what are you going to do about injuries? Poolies shouldn't use them as an excuse for poor performance, even though long absences from Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Joe Sakic of the Colorado Avalanche obviously hurt. Our production predictions were banged up, as well.

We're thinking the injuries might actually allow poolies to excuse us for predicting great things this season from Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins and Mike Cammalleri of the L.A. Kings. For sure they would've been top 50 if not injured, right?

Maybe. There's always next year.


Greg Dennis can be reached at theCanadianpress.pool(at)

In some pools, plus-minus and penalty minutes (PIM) are as important as goals and assists. And those players who put up good numbers in all categories are pure gold. Here then is the fantasy hockey's first all-stars, the players who rewarded poolies with their all-around excellence:

G Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers. 35 wins, nine shutouts, 2.27 GAA, .911 save percentage.

D Dion Phaneuf, Flames. 57 points, plus-11, 169 PIM.

D Niklas Lidstrom, Red Wings. 66 points, plus-40, 40 PIM.

C Ryan Getzlaf, Ducks. 77 points, plus-26, 94 PIM.

RW Dany Heatley, Senators. 80 points, plus-32, 92 PIM.

LW Brenden Morrow, Stars. 68 points, plus-21, 99 PIM.


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