NHL Fantasy Hockey: Stanley Cup Playoff Pool Performers

Iain ArseneauContributor IApril 7, 2010

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 23:  Forward Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins waits for a face off against the Ottawa Senators on December 23, 2009 at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The regular season is winding down, and a good number of fantasy junkies are gearing up for Stanley Cup Playoff pools . These pools offer a shot at redemption for those of us who have been out of contention in our pools for a while now, and a chance to hold ultimate bragging rights for regular season victors.

With this in mind, let’s have a look at a few of this season’s stars, and how they tend to perform in the postseason.

Captain Clutch

These guys have produced when it matters in the past, and there’s no reason to think it won’t happen again.

Evgeni Malkin , C, PIT: Last year’s Conn Smythe Trophy winner has a total of 62 points in 49 playoff games. It’s been a tough year for Gino, but don’t let that make you pass him up for the playoffs. Sidney Crosby also gets an honourable mention here, since his reinvention from playmaker to sniper really began during last year’s playoff run.

Alex Ovechkin , LW, WSH: Same old Ovie come playoff time.

Nicklas Backstrom , C, WSH: Backstrom’s playoff performance last year closely mirrored his regular season production. He’s been even better this year, and become a pretty responsible defensive player too. I expect him to turn a lot of heads this postseason. That is, of course, if the Caps make it anywhere in the postseason, and that’s all up to Jose Theodore and Semyon Varlamov .

Patrik Elias , C/LW, NJ: Elias falls into the sleeper category for this year’s playoffs, as he’s had a pretty unremarkable season. His playoff resume is impressive though. He currently sits fifth among all active players in playoff points with 113. The Devils look poised to make a decent run come playoff time, and I would expect Elias to be a big reason why.

Playoff Busts

The following gents have a reputation of underperforming come playoff time. They may still give you some production, but don’t expect the same player you saw in the regular season.

Joe Thornton , C, SJ: Jumbo Joe’s playoff struggles are well-documented. For his career, the perennial regular season assist-king has just 53 points in 76 games, with a minus-12 rating. The Sharks are pegged as contenders year after year, and Thornton’s annual disappearing act is a major reason why they’ve never made good on their contender status. Dany Heatley’s arrival in town should change all that, right?

Dany Heatley , W, SJ: Heatley has 10 goals in 34 playoff games. Extrapolate that over a full 82 game season and you get 24 goals. When was the last time you remember Heatley scoring 24 goals in a regular season? Heatley also seems to disappear when the going gets tough. Shark fans had better hope that Heatley and Thornton can cure each other’s playoff woes, or it will be another disappointing season in San Jose.

Jeff Carter , C, PHI: Carter has 12 points in 29 career playoff games. The Flyers’ goaltending situation is a mess, and if the team has any aspirations of contending, they’ll need better from Carter.

Wild Cards

These guys have had somewhat checkered playoff pasts, but that may change this year.

Ilya Kovalchuk , LW, NJ: Kovalchuk has only been to the playoffs once before, and his performance in the Thrashers’ four game exit was forgettable. He’s starting to hit his stride with the Devils though, and he’s surrounded by guys who know how to get it done in the playoffs. It’s tough to bet against him putting up big numbers now that he has an actual supporting cast.

The Sedin twins, Daniel and Henrik : Yes, we’ll examine them as one player; they wouldn’t have it any other way. Henrik has received a ton of fanfare this season, and it’s very much deserved. Quietly though, Daniel has actually scored at an almost identical pace to brother Henrik. Over a full season, Daniel’s current pace would get him 107 points.

Last season, the Sedins had their best playoff showing yet, each posting 10 points in 10 games, with identical plus-4 ratings. Seriously, do these guys do anything differently?
That playoff showing was right on par with their regular season performances last year, and both brothers seem to have added a bit of sandpaper to their game this year.

I like the Canucks for a long playoff run if Roberto Luongo can find his game, and I like the Sedins to keep up their pace through the playoffs.

Mike Green , D, WSH: Mike Green’s first trip to the postseason was actually reasonably productive, and he scored at a point a game pace. Last year though, Green looked completely out of place. Green didn’t seem to want the puck on his stick at all, and I suspected he was hiding an injury throughout the Caps’ playoff run. He has yet again been the most productive NHL defenseman during the regular season though, so it will be interesting to see how he performs come crunch time.

Paul Stastny , C, COL: Stastny only has nine games of playoff experience, and while he was completely underwhelming, his role on the team then wasn’t as prominent as it is now. I can’t say I expect the Avs to make a deep run, and Stastny isn’t the grittiest of players, but it’s not fair at this point to put him in the playoff bust category.

New to the Dance

Gut check time. The following regular season standouts have never played in the NHL playoffs:

Anze Kopitar (LA)
Chris Stewart (COL)
Craig Anderson (COL)
Drew Doughty (LA)
Jonathan Quick (LA)
Patric Hornqvist (NAS)

Iain Arseneau is a fantasy hockey contributor at DraftBuddy.com . Check weekly articles by Iain and John Canario to help manage your team to the championship.


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