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Fantasy Hockey Six-Pack- January 18

The Fantasy Hockey Six-Pack is finally back!  It has been over a month since my last post and so much has transpired in the hockey world. Honestly, I don’t really know where to begin. 

Familiar names like Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin remain atop the NHL Points Race but less-acclaimed players including David Krejci, Zach Parise and Patrik Elias have really turned their offensive games up and are not that far behind. Is Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason really leading the league in Goals Against Average and shutouts? (Answer: yes, with a G.A.A of 1.81 and six shutouts, Mason is the league leader in both categories).   

Presently, we sit at just over halfway past the midpoint of the 2008’09 NHL Season which to me is just mind-boggling.  It feels like it was just last week that Richy, Drew and I were arguing about where superstar Mats Sundin would end up.  Regardless, the fantasy pool stretch run is upon us, which means that fantasy owners need to be extra careful with how they manage their teams. 

In this week’s Fantasy Hockey Six-Pack, I provide exclusive tips on how to run your team at this critical juncture of the season.  In addition, I will discuss certain mistakes to avoid as you attempt to cash in on the second half of your hockey pool.

Three tips on how to reach an epiphany in the second-half of your hockey draft

1. Only make trades if necessary- More points are traditionally scored during the first three months of the NHL’s regular season (I don’t have stats to back this up so just trust me here) so now is not the time to look for the diamond in the rough Mr. January type season-breaker.  Depending on the format of your hockey pool (Deep, mixed, waiver-wire pickups), make educated choices and avoid gambling.  This advice may seem generic, but it is common for poolies to make big-time trades at this point of the season, thinking they will hit a home run.  Go for the safe single instead (Is that too many baseball cliches for one night?) Make trades that address key positional concerns but don’t sacrifice points in one area just to balance out your line-up.

2. Play to your strengths, not your weaknesses- If your defense has been dreadful this year, I apologize right now but that probably isn’t going to change.  If you aren’t lucky enough to have Dan Boyle, Shea Weber or Brian Rafalski on your team, then just accept the fact that defense is not going to win you your pool this year.  There is always next year.  But seriously, in pools that heavily reward goals and/or goalie wins, it is imperative that you maximize the potential you have on your team.  You should avoid sitting a good slumping forward for a struggling rookie because you are playing with fire.  Likewise, you should only be starting bonafide No.1 goaltenders at this point in the season, not flip-flopping 1A puckstoppers.  Let someone else start newly acquired Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Mathieu Garon.  Not you!

3. Have faith! If Barack Obama can become the first African-American President in U.S. history then you can make up 30 points in your hockey draft.  Just like the U.S. Presidential Inauguration taking place in Washington, DC on January 20th, change is coming.  If you are in a pool that allows waiver pick-ups, keep your eyes open for returning players and players that may become trade-bait close to the NHL’s Trade Deadline.  Newly traded players can often be good candidates for excellent late-season runs.

Three things to avoid in the second half of your hockey pool

1. Hysteria- I know it’s January and it’s cold but don’t take a trip to crazy town and go to your nearest gun store just yet.  First off, we’re talking about hockey pools here (I know, it can drive you nuts) but there are certain things to look forward to even if you sit dead-last in your hockey pool.  Hey, look at it this way, one of your players might emerge as a late-season dynamo while a superstar on a top team might hit the skids.  It’s not always wrong to revel in the misfortunes of others, is it?

2. On a serious note, it is important to not follow the trends too strongly at this crucial juncture of the hockey season.  Sure, Robert Lang is hot right now (36 points), but Saku Koivu might steal some of his power play time when he returns from injury. You need to factor in opportunity when you are making key roster decisions in January.  Don’t just sit on your consistent performers.  Take educated risks… just not on the New York Stock Exchange.

3. Don’t focus too much on the teams in the playoff race but instead look at a players role on a team.  Ottawa and Tampa Bay are virtually out of the playoff race but that doesn’t mean that they don’t still have players who can contribute to your fantasy team. Vaclav Prospal has played excellently over the past three weeks and shouldn’t be ignored just because Blake Wheeler happens to be on the 1st place Boston Bruins.  Don’t over-analyze the playoff races.  Hockey pools are about players, so act accordingly.

For Illegal Curve, I’m Ezra Ginsburg.

The Jets are scheduled to return to the ice for practice tomorrow after taking today off.

The Moose will play the first ever school day game. @ICdave will join @danielthefink on the broadcast.

We will have plenty of news on

A new month is almost here and with it brings 16 more chances to win authentic Jets merchandise (and potentially tickets to a Jets game).

But you need to enter to win.

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