Since there are only a few days left in the regular season and playoff pools are right around the corner, thought we’d hit you with a playoff pool preview themed column
#1 Give 'em a Look
Simon Gagne is probably someone who can be had in the later rounds of a playoff pool draft and while I’m not his biggest fan there’s a few reasons to like him, assuming you’re buying what Tampa Bay is selling this year. The fact that he’s missed time injured and has less than 40 points this year will likely keep drafters away but he’s really turned his game around lately with 6+10=16 over his last 11 games while playing with the equally in-form Vinny Lecavalier on the Bolts 2nd line and top PP unit. Gagne’s also been to a few of these rodeos before having scored nine goals in 19 games with Philly on the way to the finals last spring.
Others worth a look: Mikael Samuelsson (Van – RW), Devin Setoguchi (SJ - RW), Alexander Edler (Van – D) and Pekka Rinne (Nsh – G)#2 Give 'em the Boot
Here’s a few guy’s that we’d be a little uneasy about... Kris Letang came out like gangbusters this year putting up 5+18=23 over his first 26 games and he was getting some Norris Trophy buzz but Letang’s season really went downhill in the 2nd half and he finished with just 0+4=4 over his last 21 games. The big issues for Letang were losing Sidney Crosby and the fact that the Penguins PP ranked 26th in the NHL this year and was dead last in the league since the All-Star break.
Others worth a boot: Jeff Carter (Phi – RW), Patrice Bergeron (Bos – C), Jack Johnson (LA - D) and Jimmy Howard (Det – G)#3 Injury Concerns
Here’s a few elite players that could be returning soon... Mike Green (concussion) is ready to return and should be back before the regular season ends, Chris Pronger (hand) is expected to be ready come game #1, Henrik Zetterberg is TBD as he just went out with an ankle injury and the big one is Sidney Crosby who we have to assume will be ready to go when the games really matter.#4 Crease Conflicts
Let’s take a look at the only questionable situations... Michal Neuvirth seems to be the Capitals first option (when healthy) as he’s gone 8-1-0 since March 1st and while he doesn’t have any NHL playoff experience he’s won two Calder Cups (AHL Championship). The Flyers have anointed Sergei Bobrovsky as their #1 for the playoffs but have also called up last year’s #1, Michael Leighton, from the AHL as insurance. Lastly, I have a hard time seeing Jonas Hiller returning this year from his vertigo issues so I assume the Ducks will be rolling with Ray Emery and he’s been very solid going 7-2-0 so far.#5 Hit the Links
Adam Proteau of The Hockey News with a list of Playoff Pool Sleeper Picks... wow, the only thing sleepy about this list is how tired Adam must have been when he came up with it. There are some real doozies on the list and I don’t think I’d take any of those guys if I had the choice.
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