Hockey pool fans, playoff season is just around the corner. ‘Tis the time of year to plot how to win our fantasy drafts!
Which teams will make it to the 3rd round? Which assist-machine defenseman will only play 5 games? Which unsung #3 LW will end up scoring 15 goals? Which so-so goalie will end up playing 25 games? Soon we will find out!
“It’s the most … wonderful tiiiiime, of the year!”
Yes – it’s nearly time for triple OT’s, 5-game upsets, undisclosed injuries, and a gut-check that only Lord Stanley can inspire!
And yes, it’s time for Sneezl’s 2012 pool picks…
Note – since this was written with 5-7 games left in the regular season, it includes players from the following teams:
East: Rangers, Bruins, Panthers, Penguins, Flyers, Devils, Senators, Capitals, Sabres, Jets, Lightning
West: Blues, Canucks, Sharks, Red Wings, Predators, Blackhawks, Stars, Coyotes, Kings, Avalanche, Flames
2012 Fantasy Hockey Top 5 Picks: Centers
- Sidney Crosby – #1 PPG center on a top cup favourite. Pure no-brainer pick.
- Evgeni Malkin – This season’s #1 center on a top cup favourite. Also a no-brainer.
- Pavel Datsyuk – Possibly his last run with Lidstrom feeding assists.
- Tyler Seguin – If Boston repeats, this kid will score a lot.
- Henrik Sedin – IF brother Daniel is healthy & the Canucks roll, he could end up with the most points of all.
On the bubble:
- Steve Stamkos – Team’s depth (or just making the playoffs) is questionable.
- Joe Thornton – Always a threat for #1 (but seldom actually #1.)
- Jason Spezza – If Ottawa can win a couple of series, Spezza will rack up points.
Picking a player based on which team you think will advance furthest is a good strategy in playoff hockey. Often, it’s even more important than picking a player on their own merit.
Stanley Cup Fantasy Draft Top 10 Wingers
- Claude Giroux – Like the Flyers? Here’s your #1 pick.
- James Neal – Will he play with Crosby or Malkin? Either way, look out.
- Marian Hossa – Consistent point-per-game player on a contender.
- Henrik Zetterberg – Point-a-game over 4 series = 20 points, but only if Detroit makes another run.
- Alex Ovechkin – Heating up at the right time.
- Patrick Sharp – An ideal playoff player, he also knows how to score.
- Marian Gaborik – The Rangers plan to play many games. If they do, Gaborik is a great pick.
- Scott Hartnell – Proven playoff stud.
- Martin Erat – Nashville’s tricky winger.
- Patrik Elias – Ageless wonder putting in a great season.
On the bubble:
- Daniel Sedin – How bad is the concussion? If healthy he’s a top overall pick on the wing.
- Martin St. Louis – Will Tampa make the playoffs?
- Evander Kane – Jets likely won’t make the playoffs, but Kane is built for playoff success.
- Jarome Iginla – Flames might end up in 9th, but Iginla is as proven as they come.
- David Backes – If the #1 Blues are for real, Backes will play a lot of games.
Fantasy Playoff Top 10 Defensemen
- Kris Letang – Scores like crazy & plays on a cup favourite that’s been blowing out the opposition. Perfect ingredients.
- Zdeno Chara – Big Z is again a top pick, especially if you like the Bruins’ chances.
- Alexander Edler – Vancouver’s #1 point man.
- Dan Boyle – Last year’s playoff D-man of the year BY FAR.
- Nick Lidstrom – His final year? Can the Wings play 20+ games again?
- Shea Weber – If you like Nashville, take Weber & Suter.
- Ryan Suter – If you like Nashville, take Weber & Suter.
- Duncan Keith – Like the Hawks’ chances? Then take Keith.
- Denis Wideman – Unlikely points leader on Washington’s blue line.
- Kimmo Timonen – Like the Flyers? Look no further.
On the bubble:
- Alex Pietrangelo – #1 point-getter on #1 St. Louis Blues. Too bad the Blues stink.
- Drew Doughty – The Kings look iffy, though anything is possible.
- Eric Karlson – IF Ottawa goes anywhere, he’ll be a great pick. IF.
- Keith Yandle – Phoenix’s top scoring defender.
- Kevin Bieksa – If Daniel Sedin is healthy, Bieksa & Dan Hamhius become solid picks.
2012 Hockey Pools’ Top 10 Goalies
- Marc-Andre Fleury – Prime Conn Smythe Trophy candidate.
- Ilya Bryzgalov – Good goalie finally gets a good team.
- Jimmy Howard – Okay goalie, great team.
- Pekka Rinne – Premier goaltender is a Conn Smythe candidate already.
- Henrik Lundqvist – This could be the year King Henry reigns supreme.
- Tim Thomas – Dramatic player still knows how to steal games.
- Antti Niemi – Perennial question: can the Sharks win playoff games?
- Tomas Vokoun – Great goalie finally has a team to play with.
- Martin Brodeur – Team looks out of gas, but the all-time #1 is worth including just in case we’re wrong.
- Roberto Luongo – Question marks abound. Is Daniel Sedin healthy? How many games will Schneider play?
On the bubble:
- Ryan Miller – Great goalie, mediocre team.
- Craig Anderson – Fresh back from injury, will his team win a series?
- Mikka Kiprusoff – GREAT goalie, so-so team.
- Kari Lehtonen – Used to struggle with injuries, now is really reliable.
- Jonathon Quick – Super season, but can his team score enough to win?
Whose team will win at least 3 series? That’s what we all wish we knew.
2012 NHL Stanley Cup Team Predictions
Out West, the concussion to Daniel Sedin is the biggest variable. If he’s healthy, Vancouver is in great shape to once again emerge as the last team standing. St. Louis doesn’t seem like a Cup champ and neither does San Jose, plus Detroit is struggling down the stretch. Chicago again seems to be the top alternative to the Canucks, assuming that there’s no Cinderella team lurking in the lower grouping. Of the Cinderella prospects, LA would have the best chances IF they can play to their potential.
In the East, this is an interesting season. With the return of Captain Crosby, the Penguins have been crushing every team they meet, making them the instant #1 favourite. Philadelphia still misses Pronger, but made key deadline acquisitions that (along with the improvement of Bryzgalov of late) also make them favourites. If that wasn’t enough, the Rangers are playing great hockey too. The defending champs Boston aren’t clicking on all cylinders, but still have the potential to emerge from the field as well. Plus, Dale Hunter’s Caps are 6-2-2 in their last 10, so they’re back in the mix too, but this year they have Vokoun instead of AHL prospects. In short, it’s a marquee logjam. The chances of a Cinderella winning the East are tinier than an ant’s rear end.
Sneezl is picking the Penguins to come out of the East, based purely on their complete and total thrashing of all opponents down the stretch. They are simply too good to not pick as the #1 favourite.
Sneezl is picking the West champion with a big asterisk… * IF Daniel Sedin bounces back from concussion quickly, THEN the Canucks get will emerge from the conference even though I can’t stand the way they play. They’ve had trouble scoring since the all-star break, but no-one is better at using other teams’ mistakes to eek out a 2-1 victory. They play ugly hockey, but they’re darn good at what they do.
However, IF Sedin is not able to play full-time, THEN Chicago is getting the Sneeze pick. Chicago is 7-3-1 in their last 10 plus their best player (Jon Toews) is better than any other team’s best player.
As for the Cup final, this gets easier to predict again. Sneezl is calling for a decisive Penguin’s victory over either Vancouver or Chicago.
There are plenty of caveats that could be added, but why make this post any longer? Enjoy your playoff pools and hopefully your picks are even better than these!
(Remember: have fun and don’t gamble!)