Even the most casual fantasy poolies know that to win an NHL playoff pool, you have to load up on just a few teams. Some may go with two or three teams, some may go with four or five teams, but for the most part, hockey pool players limit the teams they draft from.
As you well know, there are some tough calls in the first round of the postseason. Some great teams are playing some similarly great teams. Why not take advantage of that?
Walk into your draft with an open mind.
Who will win the series between Nashville and San Jose? Are you sure? Would you bet the house on it? Of course not. These two teams are both potential Stanley Cup winners. In your draft, the entire room will be split on these teams. For them, it is much easier to try and load up on Sabres since they are the closest team to a sure thing to get out of the first round. Put all the Preds and Sharks on a list in order. Choose the top player available between those teams when it comes to you in the first round. If Joe Thornton is still there, take him. It will be easy to load up on Sharks with the rest of the draft, simply because the rest of the room can’t decide which team will sneak through. If Thornton is gone and Peter Forsberg is available, take him. Then you can load up on Preds. Remember – you have an open mind.
Bottom line, you can flip a coin on this series, but in all rounds there are a few upsets. At least by doing this, you know that if your team gets out of the first round, they have the talent to continue right through.
Pittsburgh and Ottawa is another example. Half your pool will be loading up on Senators. The other half will try to load up on Penguins.
Which team do you like in that one? Well, for the purpose of your draft, get that answer out of your head. The real answer is – the best available player’s team. If you can get Crosby, take him. If not, take Spezza. Whichever one you grab, that’s who you build around.
Get a feel around the room for which other series will be split. If you find a lot of people are not sold on a winner in the Anaheim-Minnesota series, then you have yourself another candidate. If your competitor can’t choose – they won’t. That leaves more of the better players to slip through to you.