How to lose a hockey pool in 16 easy steps

So a few weeks ago, we had our annual NHL playoff pool draft.

Ryan Getzlaf and the rest of the players I drafted in my playoff pool really let me down this year.

I was pretty excited. I had just come off a weekend where I came second in a 22-person poker tournament, and won my regular season keeper pool. I had a good feeling going into the draft.

And everything was looking good, until they actually dropped the puck on the first game of action. Now I am in last place and will finish there. I actually have no players left in my pool, as they have all been eliminated.

How could things have turned out so badly?

It all started at the draft. I ended up with the sixth pick out of six. My prediction of a final four was Washington against Pittsburgh, and San Jose against Anaheim, with the Sharks and Caps in the finals.

Now, with the sixth pick, I knew Pittsburgh would be gone quickly. So I planned to take Washington with my first two picks.

Anyways, here are my picks, and my thinking behind each one (Note: Straight points, no goalies).

Round 1, #6 overall: Ryan Getzlaf

Round 2, #7 overall: Corey Perry

Already my strategy is out the window. Crosby and Malkin are already gone. I knew I could take Letang and Dupuis, or Kunitz and Neal, or whoever. But my worry was that by the time it got back to me, all the Pens would be gone. I didn’t want just two Pens, so I decided to let them go.

I was all set to take Ovi and Backstrom, but the guy in front of me took Ovi. I didn’t really want Washington if I couldn’t have Ovi, so I decided to take the two best players from one of my other teams. So I took Getzlaf and Perry.

Round 3, #18 overall: Phil Kessel

Round 4, #19 overall: Nazem Kadri

I was right about not taking the Pens. By the time it got back to me, a total of seven Pens were already selected. The top players from the Blackhawks were gone. And the top three Caps.

At this point, I wanted an Eastern conference team. Subban was also gone, so I started looking at what team was left was the best. Since the Pens and Caps were gone, I was stuck a little. I didn’t want to choose Montreal yet. I wasn’t taking Ottawa at all. I had no faith in the Rangers to score, even if they could win the series. It was too early to take the Islanders.

So I went with the Bruins-Leafs matchup. I honestly believed the Leafs could beat the Bruins. I didn’t like the way the Bruins played going into the playoffs. They looked tired and not able to score. So I chose two Leafs.

Mistake #1: I don’t think this was a bad decision. As I said, I wanted an Eastern conference team. But I figured the Sharks were good for the final four. I should have started choosing Sharks players.

Round 5, #30 overall: Joffrey Lupul

Round 6, #31 overall: John Tavares

Here’s where choosing the Leafs earlier hurt me a little. By the time it was my picks again, Selanne and Ryan were taken. So I couldn’t take the best players left from the Ducks. So I took the next best player on the Leafs. And then went off the board with Tavares, in case there was a major upset.

Mistake #2: I still should have taken a Shark though. At this point, I could have had three or four of them.

Round 7, #42 overall: Max Pacioretty

Round 8, #43 overall: Michael Ryder

Thornton was now taken, as was Couture and Marleau. So I took the best players left from the team no one had really chosen: Montreal.

Mistake #3: I have now have three East coast teams, and only two players from the west.

Round 9, #54 overall: Chris Stewart

Round 10, #55 overall: David Backes

Here’s where my earlier mistakes started screwing me up. I took Blues, not because I thought they could win, but because I needed a Western conference team and no one had chosen them yet. All the top players from most of the other teams were gone (including five Kings).

I thought the Blues had a shot, but this was choosing a team more out of necessity than anything.

Round 11, #66 overall: Alex Steen

Round 12:  #67 overall: Matt Moulson

I get back on track with these picks. Take the best players left from teams I’ve chosen. I have the top two Islanders in case of an upset. Plus three Blues. So even if I made mistakes earlier, I’m at least building up those teams. Lesson learned, right?

Round 13: #78 overall: Zach Parise

Round 14: #79 overall: Ryan Suter.

Sigh, I just don’t learn, do I? I should have kept with my strategy. And I actually did debate it for a minute or so. I was up in the air between Phaneuf and a Hab player (Tomas Plekanec, Brendan Gallagher and Alexander Galchenyuk were still available).

But in the end, I out-thought myself. “Why, if the Wild upset the Blackhawks, I’ll be the only one with Wild players and will be laughing.”

At no point did I think the Wild had a shot. This wouldn’t have been a bad strategy if I had players from three or four teams. But I was already spread thin. I should have taken other players.

Mistake #4: Taking players from too many teams, instead of focusing on a core group.

Conclusion:

In the end, I choose 14 players from six teams. Amazingly, all six of those teams are now eliminated. Not one made it past the first round. That’s just sad.

But in the end, I broke from my strategy too much. I spread the players out amongst too many teams. I didn’t take players from three of the final four teams I had. Honestly, I could have taken Letang and Iginla in the first and second round (or whoever from the Pens I wanted), and then started taking Sharks.

Now I sit in last place with no players left in the playoffs.

Not a good playoff draft. Can I get a do-over?

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