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Ice Chips: No-Sweep Edition

May 3, 2008 | By Mike Chen | comment on this post

As series get closed out, we’re running out of pure fantasy-related things to talk about. Ultimately, if you’re in a league where you have to make picks with just one or two trades available for the duration of the playoffs, there’s a good chance you’re either totally hosed at this point or you’re in contention — and that’s all a matter of how the puck bounces. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few of the sleepers that may give you a little extra push from the remaining teams.

Johan Franzen isn’t exactly an unknown quantity, but I don’t think anyone, least of all Colorado coach Joel Quenneville, expected him to put up back-to-back hat tricks. There’s almost next to no chance that Franzen is available in any league with multiple transactions, but some of his more unheralded teammates may be. Jiri Hudler’s numbers aren’t as gaudy as Franzen’s, but he’s still just about a point per game. Mikeal Samuelsson is just under that, but he’s flying far further underneath the radar.

Thanks to Dallas blowing it Friday night, San Jose will have at least one more game, and that’s good news for Joe Pavelski. The unheralded sophomore became big-time news with his overtime winner in Game Five. With nine points in 12 games, he’s not exactly having a bad playoff to boot, and while the focus is on San Jose’s big guns, Pavelski’s stealing a little fantasy thunder for himself.

While the Rangers are trying to climb out of a near-impossible hole (and it could all end Sunday), if they somehow manage to extend the series against Pittsburgh, former Penguin Martin Straka will still be chugging along. It helps that he plays with Jaromir Jagr. On the other end of the spectrum, someone in Pittsburgh is getting points besides Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Marian Hossa: his name is Ryan Malone. And while the gritty winger has made some fantasy splashes before, so far he’s got as many points as the highly paid Hossa.

Besides the fantasy aspect, there’s the whole playoff pick ’em game floating around. Most of these brackets are locked before the playoffs start, but that doesn’t mean we can’t analyze it a little bit. My own personal feeling is that Detroit is as strong as it seems, but at the same time, the Wings haven’t been tested too much.

Put it this way: you’ve got a Nashville squad that could barely put up 20 shots a game and played without two of its best players (Jason Arnott and David Legwand) for a significant part of the series. If Nashville wasn’t so gritty — and Dan Ellis wasn’t so on the spot — the score could have been as lopsided as the shots-against.

Sure, Detroit demolished Colorado, but it played an Avalanche squad that was essentially without their usual top two lines. Combine that with a flu-sapped Jose Theodore and an injured Scott Hannan and the Avs were ripe for the picking.

That’s not to dismiss the quality of play Detroit put up during the series. The Wings are still the monster to beat in the West; their supreme puck control and special teams show that they’re a cut above the rest. However, it’ll be interesting to see how they respond in a series where it’s not men against boys (or men against injured men).

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