Playoff Fantasy Hockey Pool Rules

Fantasy owners are still battling for their regular season championships, but it’s just about the time of year to turn one eye toward the playoffs. If your fantasy team has abandoned you this season and you’re out of the championship race, the post-season will soon give you a chance at fantasy redemption.

NHL playoff pools are by far the most competitive and interesting of the playoff fantasy sports leagues, and they're a perfect way to keep the fantasy season going. The battle for the Stanley Cup is a war of attrition and becomes a second season unto itself. The sheer volume of games every night, combined with the agony of watching your players get slowly eliminated makes for an incredibly exciting fantasy pool.

If you’ve been limiting your fantasy hockey participation to the regular season, you‘re missing out. Get in the game and join a playoff pool in 2013. And if you're a veteran of playoff pools, maybe it's time to punch your league in the face with some new scoring-rules or format variations. Here are some suggestions to get started, and some ideas to spice up an existing league:

 

1. Do NOT allow free agent pick-ups. Nothing says, "test of wills" like choosing a roster and watching players get eliminated. It's like a fantasy battle royal, and it adds so much more strategy. Not only must poolies draft the best players, but they also must choose the teams they think will go the deepest. Consult our 2013 Playoff Pool Guide for a further discussion on this topic.

2. Use standard scoring. There’s nothing wrong with rotisserie style scoring, we enjoy it and play that style in a number of leagues, but for playoff pools we prefer the raw test of wills in a total points league because it's the classic Canadian-style playoff pool, and it holds a special place in our hearts. There’s just something about the pure simplicity of an overall points league combined with the war that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That said, if you just can't pull yourself away from the statistical minutia inherent to a roto pool... soldier on!

3. Use goaltenders. If you aren’t using goalies, why not? They give you one more player to cheer for, and they add another dimension of strategy and realism. Goalies are such a critical piece of the playoff puzzle, you’re missing out if you’re not including them for fantasy purposes. We recommend 2 points for a win, plus 2-3 bonus points for a shut-out. You can award whatever points you like, but that’s a fairly standard system. You might also consider drafting team goaltending, which provides a security blanket for injuries that may happen in the playoffs, and accounts for leagues that do not allow free agency.

4. Give bonus points for Goalie OT wins. A wrinkle we like to use is to give an additional point for a goaltender OT win. Instead of two points, an OT win is worth three. It only makes sense to reward a clutch performance with a little extra emphasis, and it also makes the games that much more exciting when you’re watching your goalie play in a sudden-death situation. The difference between scoring 3-points and receiving none just adds to the tension. We’ve also played in leagues that award an additional point for each OT period in a win. So it would be two bonus for a win in the 2nd OT, or three for the 3rd OT and so on.

5. Use separate Defensemen. It's the same reason for using goalies: they’re critical in the real NHL playoffs. Add some strategy by forcing league owners to draft a complete roster of forwards, defensemen, and a goalie. Modern fantasy leagues often go a step further and break it into C, LW, and RW. It’s up to you and your leaguemates how far you want to take it, but we think separating into F, D, and G is a lot of fun and something that most casual leagues can handle. The further separation of the positions is fun too, and it's a must for hardcore fantasy players. Depending on the size of your league we recommend a roster of about 8-12 F, 3-5 D, and 1-2 goalies (or one tandem). Hardcore leagues will want to bump up the number of forwards.

6. Give bonus points for OT game-winners. Again, why not reward a clutch performance and a huge goal? It adds excitement when one of your players puts a game away in OT, and it reflects the magnitude of the situation by giving the extra point. We love using bonus points as a way to add strategy and realism to a hockey pool. You can also take it a step further and award a bonus point for each OT the same way as with goalies. A 2nd OT goal would get two bonus points, a 3rd OT goal would get three… you get the idea. And a lot of leagues also award bonuses for short-handed goals, power-play goals, game-winners, etc. That’s just one more wrinkle that’s possible if you want to really spice things up.

 

The possibilities for rules in fantasy hockey are limited only by your imagination (and the league hosting software you use). Hopefully this will get some creativity going and offer you some new ways to make your league more interesting, and if you’ve never done a playoff pool, hopefully we’ve convinced you to give one a try. 

Oh, and obviously if you’re going to be in a playoff pool you’ll need strategy advice and player rankings. Make sure you get your copy of the 2013 Fantasy Hockey Standard Playoff Pool Guide.  It’s packed with all the strategies, sleepers, and cheat sheets needed to dominate in the post-season. And this year, we've even inluded The Original Profile Ranking System - our unique format that ranks and projects individual players by position and in full detail. Good luck in the playoffs.

- The Fantasy Hockey Standard Team