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Fantasy Pool Look: East playoff musings

Derek Roy had 26 goals and 69 points in 80 games this season. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Derek Roy had 26 goals and 69 points in 80 games this season. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The playoffs are here! Serious fantasy owners are finally done with the grind of a (hopefully successful) regular season and can now relax and have fun with some more laid-back pools. As for casual poolies, well, this is where they shine. Saturday we looked at players and strategies revolving around the Western Conference. Today it’s time to look at the East.

The one upset pundits are predicting in this conference is Philadelphia topping the Devils. I’m not sure why, given the Brian Boucher factor and how they practically backed into the post-season by accident. But the Flyers do boast three solid scoring lines and as a Cinderella team you could do worse. Myself, I think the four best teams in this conference will move on, unlike my thoughts on the West.

I do, however, have a dark horse to come out of the second round: Buffalo. They make an excellent option for a fifth team to build your roster around (see Saturday’s piece for more about the “fifth team”). Ryan Miller can steal a series on his own, but also consider the fact this team has found where the net is over the past month or so. They are now scoring more goals to go with their strong goaltending.

The three players I would shoot for from the Sabres (besides Miller, of course): Derek Roy, Tim Connolly and Tyler Ennis. Taking Ennis over Thomas Vanek seems crazy, but the rookie has 10 NHL games under his belt and nine points to show for it. Sure, Vanek was hot to close out the season and Ennis is a huge risk to sit in the press box, but his ice time tells me this hunch is a fairly safe one. He’s seen about 15 minutes a game down the stretch. Vanek has been far too streaky these past two years…

We can gloss it over all we want with New Jersey this and Buffalo that, but the odds are <i>Clash of the Titans won’t just be a 3D movie this spring. The defending Cup champs from Pittsburgh are probably going to face the mighty Capitals in a seven-game series. If you draft several Pens, don’t draft Caps – and vice versa. Pick a side and go with it. And don’t get too attached to one team or the other. If the best players from the Capitals are drafted before it’s your turn, then start nabbing guys from the Penguins. The last thing you want to do is go halfway for both teams. Go all in – one or the other. Nobody will laugh at you if you’re wrong…

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Enough about strategy, let’s talk players
Don’t forget about Pittsburgh’s Ruslan Fedotenko. He always bumps his points-per-game average upwards in the post-season when his team goes on an extended run. So 20 games would mean 12-15 points…

Don’t overrate Alexei Ponikarovsky. I actually like him as a fantasy player in terms of a steady 55-point production and his plum spot on Evgeni Malkin’s line is enticing. But considering he is the best offensive winger in Pittsburgh, he sure isn’t treated accordingly. He gets second power play unit ice time and rarely more than 15 or 16 minutes overall. Coach Dan Bylsma is obviously not a big fan…

As long as Matt Cooke is on the shelf (concussion), Eric Tangradi should get into the lineup. With only one NHL game under his belt, he will easily slip to the final round of your draft. If you are loading up on Pens, roll the dice and add him at the end…

If the Devils are your team, take Zach Parise over Ilya Kovalchuk. The latter has been just a point-per-game player since arriving in New Jersey, whereas the former has done pretty much the same thing. The difference is that Parise has 21 points in his past 23 playoff games and is more proven…

John Carlson is a nice dark horse defenseman if you like the Caps. Sure, the rookie has six points in 22 games, but five of them have come in the past 11 and he is winning over the coach. He is a future star and you could see that in the coming weeks…

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league - check out the latest scoop every Tuesday and Saturday throughout the season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.

Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.

Want more fantasy insider information or to contact The Dobber? Check out dobberhockey.com
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