It's the day after the end of the NHL's regular season, and that means that millions of hockey fans around the world will soon be drafting teams for their annual playoff pool.
Some people claim that playoff pools are all luck. Nonsense. Not only can you win your office pool, but you can dominate. But you need to go into your draft with a strategy.
Are you tired of being the Marian Hossa of your office pool? If so, change your luck this year by following the tips below:
- When faced with a choice between two players with similar talent levels and statistical output, it's generally a good idea to lean towards the one whose team qualified for the post-season.
- Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley would all make for excellent first-round selections in playoff pools that don't count stats such as goals and assists.
- You should absolutely feel free to draft players from the Eastern Conference once all the players from the good teams are gone.
- The Phoenix Coyotes finished with 107 points. It might be a good idea to Google them to see if you can figure out the names of some of their players.
- If there are fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs taking part in your draft, remember to build in some extra time at the start for explaining what "playoffs" means.
- Before picking Chris Phillips, double-check your rules to make sure your pool doesn't only count playoff goals scored against the other team.
- Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson probably won't get you many wins or shutouts. But if your pool has a category for "Having the same haircut as Friar Tuck from Rocket Robin Hood"... well then, ka-ching!
- Wherever possible, load up on players from the two highest scoring teams: The Washington Capitals, and whoever is playing against the Washington Capitals.
- Yes, it will be tempting to pick Ryan Miller based on his MVP-calibre season. But don't forget that he plays in Buffalo, so something horrible is going to happen to him.
- Many "experts" will tell you to avoid Russian players, since as Europeans they don't care about the Stanley Cup as much as North Americans and won't be willing to do the hard work it takes to win one. This is nonsense. Russia is technically part of Asia.
- Office pools with coworkers are lots of fun. But remember, if you work in the newspaper industry be sure to get everyone's money in advance in case your paper goes out of business before June.
- When doing projections for Philadelphia Flyers forwards, remember to factor in the fact that they'll all probably be forced to play goalie at some point.
- Wherever possible, focus on players that appear to be well-rested. For example, savvy veteran Matt Cooke recently took a refreshing ten-minute nap in the middle of a game.