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Fantasy Hockey Stanley Cup Playoff Outlook: Western Conference

Dobber Hockey
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Dobber checks in every Thursday to force-feed you the latest fantasy hockey trends. The founder of DobberHockey.com and a columnist for The Hockey News website, he long ago immersed himself into this rollercoaster world and is unable to escape.

In keeping with yesterday's theme, it's time to cover the Western Conference. Because if we didn't, my OCD brain would probably explode.

And to kick off this second of two playoff primers, I'll turn to Frozen Pool for another riveting and relevant snapshot. Here are the Top 50 faceoff men of the past three weeks, minimum 135 faceoffs taken:

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Anaheim Ducks

The Obvious - Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan and Saku Koivu.

The Sleepers - Although Kyle Palmieri has played all of five playoff games as a pro, his ability to score when it's needed most speaks volumes. He has five game winners out of his 10 goals. I also find it interesting that in his four playoff games for Syracuse in 2012 he took 21 shots…

Nick Bonino is another good secondary option. His lower-body injury kept him out for 21 games, but of the games he did play he has 11 points in his last 19. His ice time is also much higher than it was early in the season, at times topping 19 minutes.

Rookies to Watch - Defenseman Sami Vatanen has played five straight games, covering for the injured Luca Sbisa. Vatanen has two points in those games and next year could surprise you with strong numbers in what will still be a rookie-eligible season…

After a couple of recalls and demotions, Etem was brought to Anaheim for good in late February. He has chipped in some timely points, but for the most part his ice time is carefully controlled. Neither Etem nor Vatanen will likely make a playoff impact this year.

Don't Overrate - Early in the season, the Ducks relied on their secondary scoring. Now that the top line has been flying for a couple of months now, some of the other guys have slowed down. Francois Beauchemin has just two points in his last 13 games, Teemu Selanne (nine in last 34), Andrew Cogliano (one in his last eight), Daniel Winnik (12 in last 42), and Sheldon Souray (10 in his last 34).

Chicago Blackhawks

The Obvious - Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Brandon Saad and Duncan Keith.

The Sleepers - Dave Bolland always brings his 'A' game to the playoffs. In 49 career playoff games, his points-per-game average is 0.76, which is better than his best regular season…

Bryan Bickell is enjoying a career season and at 6-4, 233 pounds he reminds me of another huge refrigerator-type player who was a key cog in the Blackhawks 2010 Cup run…

Michael Frolik was arguably Chicago's best forward during their brief playoff stint a year ago, but would need decent linemates (Playoff Warrior Bolland would be ideal). Here are Chicago's line combinations for the past three games. This is a free report that can be found here for all teams.

As you can see, Frolik is not exactly playing with top liners.

Rookies to Watch - Saad has three points in his last eight games, but prior to that he was very much in the Calder Trophy conversation and should be a high draft pick this weekend.

Don't Overrate - Viktor Stalberg has just six points in his last 17 games and has just two power-play points all season…

Columbus Blue Jackets

The Obvious - Vinny Prospal, Marian Gaborik, Mark Letestu and Fedor Tyutin.

The Sleepers - Cam Atkinson suffered a high ankle sprain in the third game of the season and then he came back a little quickly. He was playing with some discomfort for a couple of weeks and it showed in his numbers. He had just six points in his first 18 games but has 10 in his last 16…

R.J. Umberger was a strong playoff performer for the Flyers and Blue Jackets (during their brief visit to the postseason in 2009). He has 13 goals in his last 21 playoff contests…

Brandon Dubinsky has been going nutty since returning from injury nine games ago. He has nine points and 37 PIM since April 4.

Rookies to Watch - Defenseman Dalton Prout plays with a lot of grit and intensity, gets tons of ice time, and he's a plus-14. That being said, he's not offensively gifted…

Fellow rearguard Tim Erixon has yet to show his offensive promise at the NHL level and will be a non-factor in all playoff pools.

Don't Overrate - To John Tortorella the casual fan, the name Gaborik brings a certain expectation. He won't reach that expectation. He's been good, but not great. Just seven points in 11 games since joining #Lumbus.

Detroit Red Wings

The Obvious - Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall, Damien Brunner, and Nicklas Lidstrom. Sigh.

The Sleepers - After a 66-point career season, Valtteri Filppula is having a hell of a time getting things going this year. Still, in his last five postseasons he has 46 points in 73 games (0.63 points per game) and in every year other than last year, his points-per-game in the playoffs exceeded his points-per-game in the season.

Rookies to Watch - Gustav Nyquist has show creativity and poise, more so with every game since being recalled a month ago. But it hasn't translated into points and there is some risk that he gets scratched now that veterans such as Todd Bertuzzi are returning from injury…

Brendan Smith makes for a nice dark horse if you see the Wings going deep. He has seven points in his last 14 games, although the arrival of Danny DeKeyser has seen Smith scratched on occasion. I think the target of the 'healthy scratch' is now focused exclusively on former Leafs Ian White and Carlo Colaiacovo, so Smith should be a safe pick…

DeKeyser is this year's prized college free agent, but from a fantasy standpoint he holds little value. He's a defense-first kind of guy.

Don't Overrate - Johan Franzen, a playoff stud for so many years, has become a playoff dud the last two. He managed just four points in his last 13 postseason games. Prior to that, he had 59 in 51 playoff games, so you can see where our expectations have been for him. He'll need to get some of that magic back if the Wings hope to go deep.

Los Angeles Kings

The Obvious - Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Justin Williams, Dustin Brown, Slava Voynov and Drew Doughty

The Sleepers - Trevor Lewis has always had the potential to play on the second line, but on a deep Los Angeles roster there were too many better options. He's still out of the top six mix, but his 14 points represent a career high, despite the shortened season. During the Cup run he had nine points in 20 games…

With three points in his last 18 games, Jake Muzzin has slowed down from the torrid pace he set in early March. But his ice time is still up there and he's still seeing a lot of power-play time. If the Kings go 20 games deep into the playoffs again, I can see Muzzin getting 10 points.

Rookies to Watch - Muzzin is the impact rookie on the Kings' roster, making a big splash when he posted 11 points in 13 games starting February 25. He's averaging upwards of 18 minutes per game…

Tyler Toffoli would be an impact rookie on 25 other teams, but on the Kings he's often been in the press box. This despite five points in nine games in which he averages 12 minutes of ice time. Barring an injury to someone in the top nine, Toffoli will take in these playoffs from the press box beside Dustin Penner.

Don't Overrate - Last year's big playoff surprise Dustin Penner has been back to his old tricks, playing his way out of the lineup on a few occasions. He's trying hard to shed his 'soft player' reputation - if you look at his year-over-year hits-per-game average it has gone steadily upwards from just over one hit every two games in 2009-10 to close to three hits every two games this year. But it hasn't been enough and he's a risky pick as a result.

Minnesota Wild

The Obvious - Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville, Ryan Suter and Devin Setoguchi.

The Sleepers - Excuse Pierre-Marc Bouchard for taking a couple dozen games to get his timing back, after missing much of the last several seasons with concussions. Three consecutive healthy scratches in early March sparked him though, because he returned and has posted 14 points in 21 games…

Rookie Jonas Brodin is the Calder Trophy winner this year if you talk to Minnesota insiders. That won't happen, of course, since his stats don't reflect his near-flawless play. But Brodin is gobbling up the minutes and seeing PP time, and although eight points in his last 21 games aren't dazzling he could possibly build on that in the postseason.

Rookies to Watch - Besides Brodin, the only other safe rookie is Charlie Coyle. Coyle's ice time has inched upward and in the year's most important game Tuesday against L.A. he played over 20 minutes. He has 11 points in his last 26 games and is getting better with each game…

Mikael Granlund just might have the highest upside of any rookie in the NHL, but the consistency hasn't been there and the Wild have been handling him carefully - he's currently in the minors. He's not eligible to be a rookie again next year, as he's played 27 games.

Don't Overrate - Devin Setoguchi's hot production in March went down the tank in April when Matt Cullen was injured. Cullen has since returned, but is struggling.

San Jose Sharks

The Obvious - Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and Dan Boyle.

The Sleepers - Martin Havlat, when he's not tripping over his skate laces and spraining something, can be a very good player. We were wondering if the injuries were adding up, though, when he started the season slowly. He has 12 points in his last 20 games, which is still weak by his standards, but better than his overall numbers show.

Rookies to Watch - Defenseman Matt Irwin was a free agent signed out of college in 2010. He transitioned seamlessly to the NHL this season and at one juncture he tallied seven points in nine games. He has been up and down, as happens with many rookies, and thus carries a risk.

Don't Overrate - Dan Boyle has 14 points in his last 40 games. He's not the stud blueliner he once was and shouldn't be counted on for a point every two games as his numbers indicate…

Patrick Marleau started the season with 14 points in six games, which is pretty impressive. Not as impressive are the ensuing 41 games. He has just 17 points in that span, which is very un-Marleau like.

STL

St. Louis Blues

The Obvious - Chris Stewart, Alex Steen, David Backes, David Perron, Patrik Berglund, Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk.

The Sleepers - Andy McDonald was the Blues' top playoff scorer a year ago, with 10 points in nine games. Historically, he has always been productive in the postseason…

T.J. Oshie has been out since March with an ankle injury, but he'll be ready for the playoffs. His point total has been stuck at 20 as a result, keeping him off the radar of most of the casual hockey fans in your pool.

Rookies to Watch - The adrenalin has worn off of Vladimir Tarasenko, who looked like he was going to walk away with the Calder Trophy when he posted five points in his first two NHL games and 10 in his first eight. But he has just eight points in his last 29 contests and is pretty much out of the Calder conversation altogether…

Jaden Schwartz started off slowly and has picked things up a little bit, but not enough to warrant drafting unless you think the Blues will go to the Final.

Don't Overrate - Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk had 13 points in his first 12 games, but just 10 in 35 games since. He should be drafted based on the latter number, and not the former.

Vancouver Canucks

The Obvious - Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Derek Roy, Jannik Hansen, Alex Burrows, Alexander Edler and Ryan Kesler.

The Sleepers - Jason Garrison has found his niche with his new team, posting eight points in his last 11 games, including four points on the power play…

Rookies to Watch - None.

Don't Overrate - Mason Raymond has just 16 points in 51 career playoff games. He has also slowed significantly since the trade deadline, when the Canucks added Derek Roy, not to mention the return to health of Kesler. Just not enough PP time to go around…

Roy has just five of his 27 points this year with the Canucks (11 games).

Six of Zack Kassian's 10 points were in the first eight games of the season. Since then, he has been snakebitten and has a greater chance of getting zero points in the playoffs than he has of getting six or seven.

Also, hey, I have an Interactive Playoff Draft List that I'm selling. It will make things way easier for you at the draft table.

For more fantasy hockey tips, take a gander at DobberHockey. And while you’re at it, follow Dobber’s fantasy hockey musings on Twitter.

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