Now that all 30 teams have played their 82 games, we can safely say the 2007-2008 regular season is in the books. The playoffs are here and the clich line spewed forth by every player, coach, GM and hockey analyst is that, its a whole new ball game. (Just once Id like to hear them say, its a whole new puck game). Regardless of the sports metaphor, what theyre saying is that whatever happened in the regular season fails to matter in the run for the Cup. Scoring leaders, Presidents Trophy winners, dazzling goaltenders none of it factors into the playoff equation. The playing ice, so to speak, is leveled. They all know it and you so should you if you have any hopes of taking home top prize in your hockey pool. While the vast majority of pools are structured differently, the philosophy behind them is the same: pick the players, score the points, win the money (or the beer). With the forget the regular season rule applied, picking your roster for the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs is made that much easier. For example, while Detroit finished atop the league (as usual) and it might tempting to cherry pick players from their top line Datsyuk, Holmstrom, Zetterberg the Wings havent been able to get those guys to produce come playoff time. It translates to an early exit and fewer points for the poolie. The same goes for the Penguins. Sure, they have Sid the Kid, Malkin, a host of other guys who had a terrific years, but the team doesnt have much in the way of playoff experience in the lineup. Hossas been there, but year after year hes been a playoff let down. A guy like Gary Roberts, nursing a high ankle sprain, will only take them so far. So a first round exit isnt out of the question. Your best bet in making playoff pool picks is to stick with teams that are playoff proven with playoff savvy veterans. Look at New Jersey, Ottawa and Philly in the East and Calgary, Anaheim and Dallas in the West. It also helps to take a look back at last years playoff statistics, chances are whoever was atop the scoring board last year, will make their way back this year. At the same time, there is something to be said for momentum. Case in point is the Washington Capitals who went from last in the Southeast to clinch first place in the last game of the season by defeating Florida 3-1. They have a hot goalie in Huet, a hot rookie in Backstrom, and a coach in Bruce Boudreau who seems poised for his first Jack Adams. And oh yeah, they have Ovechkin. Best of luck poolies.
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