The DobberHockey crew is proud to have provided Sportsnet readers with fantasy hockey tips all season long. With Sportsnet offering a FREE playoff hockey pool presented by Ram with $50,000 in cash prizes available, we figured we would offer up a strategy guide to help get a leg up on the competition. Follow along for some tips and tricks to build the best possible roster.
1. You can still join
Are you interested in joining but missed Round 1? No problem. You can select a new team for Round 2 and still be eligible for prizes for Rounds 2-4 combined and overall.
2. You can start over
Did your first-round team consist of numerous Kings or Ducks players, or players who didn’t record many points? Start fresh in Round 2 with a whole new set of players. You will also be able to pick new players for the start of Round 3, so base your selections on the players you think will score the most during Round 2 of the playoffs, not the entire playoffs.
3. You can even get a head start
The entry deadline for Round 2 is 8:00 p.m. ET on Friday, April 27. All points scored by SJ, VGK, PIT and WSH players on April 26 WILL count for Round 2 (everyone gets a sneak peek at the results of the first game in those series before picks are due for Round 2).
4. Check out the Round 1 tips
Before reading our tips for handling Round 2, make sure you’ve read our tips for Round 1. These tips cover the subjects of understanding the rules, paying attention to salary cap and league ownership numbers, and choosing your Ram Capable Players.
5. Target linemates
As of Wednesday April 24 (prior to the Leafs/Bruins Game 7 match), all of the top 30 teams in the overall standings had picked both of Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel, with either Crosby or Guentzel as each team’s Ram Tough forward for Round 1. At that moment Guentzel and Crosby were tied with David Pastrnak for the playoff scoring lead with 13 points. Yes, Crosby and Guentzel have been linemates both at even strength and on the Penguins’ first-unit power play. If you picked both Crosby and Guentzel, you were essentially doubling your point total, then doubling one of the two players after that with the Ram Tough pick.
Conversely, the Nashville Predators’ third line probably isn’t the first place you’d think to add players from. Yet the average of the production of each of Austin Watson, Colton Sissons, and Nick Bonino turned out to be a point per game. You probably wouldn’t have added all three forwards if you had designs on winning this pool. But adding one or even two of these players at great value to offset your stars would have been a wise move.
Need to know the latest line combinations? Check out Dobber’s Frozen Pool.
6. Limit teams
The strategy of limiting teams will become that more important in the second round, where there are only eight teams to choose from as opposed to 16 in the first round. If forward lines are not always clear in the event of injuries, you may want to look toward a team’s first-unit power-play options, since that is usually where a team’s big guns unite.
7. Play to your level of competition
Are you targeting the grand prize, or are you simply happy winning your small group? Diversifying your roster with players from every team won’t help you stand out among the crowd when you are competing against thousands of others. This strategy might not be so bad if you are attempting to win bragging rights among your group, though.
8. Know how the scoring is divided
MVP candidates such as Taylor Hall, Nathan MacKinnon, and Anze Kopitar are responsible for a large percentage of their team’s scoring. The dropoff in Penguins’ scoring after Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel during the regular season was significant. The same goes for Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos in Tampa Bay. These Penguins and Lightning scorers are obvious targets (with the exception of the injured Malkin), assuming that you can afford the salary cap costs.
On the other hand, picking Nashville players could be a guessing game because they tend to spread out their scoring. Even though the Predators were a Stanley Cup finalist last season, only one player (Filip Forsberg) finished in the top 10 in playoff scoring, and he even finished behind two other players whose teams were knocked out in the conference final (Erik Karlsson, Ryan Getzlaf).
Nashville is also the only playoff team whose leading scorer (also Forsberg) did not reach 65 points. Despite the lack of a true elite scorer, the Preds were still a top-10 offense in the regular season. Their scoring was boosted by two defencemen (P.K. Subban and Roman Josi) who finished in the top 15 among their position during the regular season.
9. Target better teams, or more potential games?
The safer teams to pick from might be the teams viewed as the heavy favourites, but they may not always provide the best point totals in a particular round. Keep in mind that a team that loses in Game 7 will play three more games than a team that sweeps its series. A games played total is vital in any playoff pool. Targeting players on a team that could both generate tons of offense and go the distance in its series could be the way to go.
Not that we expected sweeps in either Pacific Division series, but no Sharks finished in the top 25 in first-round playoff scoring. If you think that’s bad, the Golden Knights’ leading scorer (Reilly Smith) finished outside the top 60 with just three points. That doesn’t mean you should stay away from either the Sharks or Golden Knights, but just understand the effect of games played.
10. Search for inexpensive players providing great value
Some players with a minimum salary (1) that stood out in Round 1 and are available in Round 2 include the following:
Jake Debrusk (7 points in 7 games)
Alex Killorn (5 points in 5 games)
Chandler Stephenson (4 points in 6 games)
Colton Sissons (7 points in 6 games)
Austin Watson (7 points in 6 games)
Nick Bonino (5 points in 6 games)
Tomas Hertl (4 points in 4 games)
Marcus Sorensen (4 points in 4 games)
Brian Dumoulin (6 points in 6 games)
Ryan McDonagh (4 points in 5 games)
Mattias Ekholm (6 points in 6 games)
Tyler Myers (3 points in 4 games)
Once you’ve picked your more expensive star players, a minimum salary player that explodes during a playoff round could be a difference maker for you.
Good luck and have fun! For more help with your fantasy hockey playoffs pick up the DobberHockey Interactive Playoff Draft List!
Ian Gooding is an associate editor at Dobber Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.