Winning a playoff pool can be a tough venture. An upset here, an injury there, and a little bad luck can crush your hopes in a hurry. Nothing is worse than drafting a team you feel has a legitimate shot to win, only to realize 84 percent of your team has already vanished by the second round.
So how about trying something different this year? If all that hockey knowledge hasn’t paid off in the past, you might as well try the exact opposite approach and avoid logic altogether. How much worse can it get?
Select people with cool names
Sure Taylor Hall was unbelievable in the regular season and may just be the front-runner for league MVP, but his name does leave a lot to be desired.
If you want to have a team with cool names, you should be trying to target players like Sven Andrighetto of the Colorado Avalanche or Boone Jenner of the Columbus Blue Jackets. If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it’s that you can trust guys named Sven and Boone. If people can win their March Madness pools by picking teams based on their name, colours or mascot, there’s no reason the same strategy won’t work in your NHL playoff pool.
Pick goalies playing in the Flyers-Penguins series
When these two teams met six years ago in the Eastern Conference quarter-finals, the Pennsylvania rivals amassed a robust 56 goals in seven games. That is more than just ridiculous, that is outright insane.
Also worth mentioning is the fact that both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia ranked in the top 10 in goals for during the final month of the 2017-18 season.
So why not take a shot on one of Brian Elliott or Matt Murray this year? If the law of averages works as advertised, both teams are bound to hit a severe goal-scoring slump right about now.
Avoid the obvious
Players such as Sidney Crosby, Nikita Kucherov, Anze Kopitar and P.K Subban are all very likely candidates to be selected by a good portion of your league. How do you gain an edge over your opponent if you both have the same players?
Go for the lesser known value plays. Now I am not talking about guys like Jake Guentzel — you’re going to have to dig a little deeper than that. Look for the element of surprise in your pool this year. You will look like a genius when the Blake Colemans and Alex Iafallos of the world lead your team to certain victory.
Listen to your uncle who only watches the Maple Leafs
Chances are, there is nobody more opinionated about the Maple Leafs than your uncle.
Your uncle has been watching the Leafs longer than you have been born. By now, you should know better than to completely disregard his sage advice — nobody knows playoff pools or the Maple Leafs more than your uncle. He would not steer you wrong in this scenario.
Pick at least one player from each team
Now, you have probably heard that it is smart to stack players from teams you think are going to go far in the post-season. Well, you can forget that advice because it won’t work.
Last year the Chicago Blackhawks finished first in the Western Conference. It seemed smart to pick players like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in your playoff pool. How did that one work out?
While picking one player from each team will ensure almost half of your team is done after Round 1, it also ensures that almost half of your team will make it to Round 2. That seems like a pretty fair trade-off to me.
The less preparation the better
There is a pretty good chance the articles you’re reading to gain an edge on your competition are the exact same ones your competition is reading to gain an edge on you.
However, if you only use your gut instinct to pick your squad there is no way your competition will match your lineup. Just close all those tabs and turn off your brain. Remember Bobby Ryan’s run with the Senators last year? Nobody with a smart hockey mind saw that coming, but you might have if you just trusted your instinct. Gut beats brain every time. It’s science.
Save lots of cap space
If you are in a pool where you have to put together a lineup while working on a budget, be extremely stingy. You’re already a penny pincher with everything else in life, so why would you go spending willy-nilly in some silly playoff pool?
Players like Alexander Ovechkin and Patrik Laine are nice, but they will be accompanied by a high price tag. If the movie “Money Ball” taught me anything, it’s to seek out slightly worse players at a much lower price. It’s a proven method.
Now that you have read the ultimate guide to losing your NHL playoff pool, you should have a pretty good understanding of what it takes to fail this post-season. So make sure you definitely do not apply these pointers to your league. Maybe just pass them along to the guy in your office who knows nothing about hockey but is overly confident in his opinions. Or just go for it — see where it takes you. At least you’ll have someone else to blame.