Volume 94, Issue 20
Wednesday, October 4, 2000
Western's Don Cherry gives pool tips
The hockey season gets underway tonight and right on time comes the annual Gazette Hockey Pool. As the self-proclaimed hockey "guru," I am here to lend a helping hand to all those who don't know who Jaromir Jagr is and for those who do, read on you'll probably learn something.
The first and most important thing in winning this pool, as with winning anything, is there has to be a little bit of time put in and research done. Nothing too painful. Pick up a newspaper for predictions and articles about the coming season (Thursday and Friday in The Gazette) or get yourself one of those fancy National Hockey League yearbooks that do all the research for you. Either way, there are still some things that can help you make the wisest decisions possible.
Most of the top flight guys in the league, like Paul Kariya and Jagr, play on the powerplay. The powerplay is the one area where guys can go from 30 point men to 50 or 60 point men. Find out who's on the powerplay because their points will definitely be there, especially the defenceman, who usually acts as the quarterback at the point.
Players generally have break-out years in their third or fourth seasons in the NHL. The biggest name that you'll see having that type of break-out year will be Vincent Lecavalier of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He's the captain and the Lightning have officially become his team. Look for him to break the 75 point plateau.
For those later picks, look at whom they are expected to play with. A linemate with some scoring touch, or playmaking abilities, can also determine where your player ends up in the final tally of points. Are they a left winger with a slick centre or a centre that has a left winger with a booming shot.
Age is not as big a factor as it was, say, in the early 1980's. Today athletes have extended off-season training programs and the fact that there is a possibility for million dollar contracts as they get older motivates them to stay at the top of their game. However, despite the motivating factors, as the players get older, they do lose a step and some start to move down the depth chart. Ice time becomes limited and scoring chances dwindle.
When scanning all the millions of stats from previous years, one of the most important stats is points per game. This number shows how many points a player averaged per game throughout the season. This can be an invaluable tool as it can allow you to find the true darkhorse in the pool. Players may have been hurt and not played too much therefore not scoring much the year before, but may have averaged close to a point a game. If you are willing to take a risk that this player will last the whole season injury free, you may have found the diamond in the rough and the difference between being first or being an also-ran.
Finally, the most important aspect to look at is the team for which the player is playing. Are they contenders for playoff spots, or are they on a team that's going to go belly-up in February. Is the team offensively oriented or do they rely on a stifling team defence to try and compete?
And if all else fails, you can always arbitrarily make your picks based on cool last names or the fact they play for a team where your cousin lives. The only fact about hockey pools is that no one really knows what they are doing, except for me of course, so just by entering you've got a real chance to win.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000