Star Selector: Round 2 fantasy hockey tips
The Crown Royal Star Selector Pool is a live, interactive and in-game fantasy hockey pool that lets you manage your own team while watching the game on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada. During every Hockey Night in Canada match, you get to be the coach, pick your players and make changes to your roster every period. The real-time scoring system puts emphasis on every play and not just scoring plays. You can even play on your phone! Select your players and win great HNIC prizes! The following are some tips from regular season play that may help you make your Star Selector picks during round two of the playoffs on Hockey Night in Canada.
(1) Canucks vs. (5) Predators
As I stated in my Star Selector Fantasy Guide for Round 1, the Vancouver Canucks had one of the best offences in almost every facet of the game during the 2010-11 campaign. They were led by Selke Trophy nominee Ryan Kesler, who was the Star Selector MVP during the regular season with 6943 points. Though Kesler may have struggled to put points on the scoresheet against the Hawks in the first round, he continued to do the little things that made him so valuable during the year. After seven games of that thrilling series against Chicago, Kesler is fourth in the NHL in hits with 26, 17th in shots on goal with 23 and he also has six blocked shots. Despite tallying just four assists, Kesler is still a respectable 12th in the live pool with 530 points.
Daniel Sedin, who had a monster year with 5123 Star Selector points and who could very well be the league's Hart Trophy winner, leads his team and is fifth in the league with seven points in the playoffs. Sedin also has 487 Star Selector points, which puts him in 18th place overall.
With the possible exceptions of Alex Edler (454 SS points) and Alex Burrows (431 SS points), the rest of the Canucks need to step up their all-around play and do the things they did prior to the post-season. After his first round roller coaster of a series, Roberto Luongo has 415 points, but he's nowhere near the pace he was on during the regular season when he finished 14th overall with 5224 Star Selector points. Other underachieving Canucks include Henrik Sedin (286), Mikael Samuelsson (249), Kevin Bieksa (238), Sami Salo (105) and Raffi Torres (72).
In the Nashville camp, just like Luongo, it's Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne that has largely disappointed to this point. Of the eight teams that advanced, Rinne heads into round two with the second lowest save percentage at .876 and second highest goals against average at 3.29 behind only Antti Niemi of the Sharks. Luckily for Rinne, the Preds have finally figured out how to score some goals after finishing the season tied for 21st in goals per game and it will be interesting to see if the team can continue to do so.
Nashville is led by B.C. native Shea Weber and his 442 Star Selector points. Former Ottawa Senator Mike Fisher is a close second with 433 points, while Patric Hornqvist has 336 points, David Legwand has 321 points and the surprising Jordin Tootoo has 302 points. Though their offence has been fairly consistent and balanced in the post-season, the third period seems to be the team's forte. In the third stanza, Legwand is fourth in points (213), Joel Ward is 17th (172) and Fisher is 20th (166).
On paper, Vancouver should have an easy time. But if Luongo and players like Samuelsson and Henrik Sedin don't regain their forms before Rinne, the Canucks could be in for another long series.
(2) Flyers vs. (3) Bruins
We all know that goaltending is always a key to success in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but this series could very well come down to offence. Both teams are loaded with talented and versatile players that suit the Star Selector pool perfectly.
Take Patrice Bergeron for example. Putting goaltending aside for a moment, Bergeron is first in Star Selector scoring with 779 points as he was all over Boston's scoresheet every night. The Bruins centre is tied for fifth in points with seven, tied for 10th in both shots with 27 and plus/minus with a plus-5 rating and is tied for 14th in hits with 22.
Philadelphia winger Claude Giroux isn't far behind as he has ended up sixth overall and second among forwards with 638 Star Selector points. Giroux will enter round two in second place in the NHL with nine points, tied for 10th in plus/minus with a plus-5 rating and tied for 25th with 20 hits. Philly's other primary weapons include Danny Briere and James van Riemsdyk. Ninth overall in the pool with 577 points, Briere is tied for first in the league with six goals, is fifth with seven points and sixth with 30 shots, while van Riemsdyk is first with 43 shots, tied for fifth with four goals and is 14th in the pool with 510 points. Outside of stars Thomas and Bergeron, Boston's leading Star Selector scorers are Chris Kelly (377), Dennis Seidenberg (356), Brad Marchand (340) and Nathan Horton (309).
Having said all that, you can never fully look beyond goaltending. Boston goalie Tim Thomas is a favourite to win the Vezina Trophy this year and he brought his superb numbers with him into the playoffs. Thomas finds himself fifth overall with 725 Star Selector points. Against the Habs, he made 212 saves, which was is good for fourth in the league, and sports a 9.26 save percentage and a 2.25 goals against average. For the Flyers, when you think of goaltending you likely think of the fact that three different masked men started in their series against the Sabres. That may be true, but look closer and you'll see that Brian Boucher was actually quite good. Boucher heads into round two in third among starters with a 2.10 goals against, tied for third with a .934 save percentage and is 4-1 in six games played so far. He's also fourth on Philadelphia with 462 SS points.
(1) Capitals at (5) Lightning
Tampa Bay @ Washington: May 1 at 7 PM ET
Game 2 of the Lightning versus the Capitals will be aired live on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada on Sunday, May 1. Though there's enough offence on these two teams to fill out an Olympic roster, you may be surprised to learn that this series will feature the top two goalies in the league right now, statistically speaking.
Tampa Bay veteran Dwayne Roloson is first in the NHL among starters with a stellar .946 save percentage and second with a 1.77 goals against average, while Michal Neuvirth of the Caps is first with a miniscule 1.38 goals against and second with a .946 save percentage. Both finished round one with four wins and a shutout.
So why then was Roloson the No. 1 fantasy performer in the Star Selector pool with 970 points (as well as No. 1 in the second period and No. 3 in both the first and third periods), while Neuvirth was just 17th overall with 490 points? Yes, Tampa played two more games than Washington, but what's noteworthy is that Roloson led the league in first round saves with 243. The 41-year-old made an average of 35 saves per game, while Neuvirth made an average of 28. Expect the trend of Roloson seeing more shots than his counterpart to continue.
After their goalie, Tampa's leaders in the Star Selector live pool were Eric Brewer (507), Marty St. Louis (502), Vinny Lecavalier (471), Simon Gagne (398), Sean Bergenheim (393), Pavel Kubina (375) and Steven Stamkos (341). The trio of Brewer, St. Louis and Lecavalier were all top-20 in SS points.
You may be wondering how Brewer led that group even though St. Louis tied for third in NHL playoff scoring with eight points. It's simple: the Star Selector pool is not your average pool. Points are awarded (and deducted) for a variety of categories. Brewer led the league with 27 blocks, delivered 19 hits, took 13 shots on net and chipped in five points. Brewer is a great choice, just don't forget about the success Gagne had with the Flyers last year at this time.
Following Neuvirth, the Capitals points leaders in the live pool were Alex Ovechkin (411), Mike Green (324), Alex Semin (323) and Brooks Laich (309). Though Semin excelled in third periods, where he finished tied for seventh with 190 Star Selector points, Ovechkin is the most notable Caps player from the first round. The Great No. 8 led his team with three goals and six points, but he also finished tied for 9th in the league with 23 hits.