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Fantasy Pool Look: The final quarter

We're in the final quarter of the NHL season and at this point hockey pool owners have a good idea of whether or not they have a shot at the trophy. If you're still reading Fantasy Pool Look, then either your team is still in the running, or you reallyÂ…really like hockey pools. For those in the running, here are some tips to put you over the top.

1. I'm not one of the die-hard Leaf fans who believes Toronto will go on a 14-5 tear and squeak into the playoffs. They will miss the playoffs. I do, however, believe they have pulled up their socks and will play.500 hockey the rest of the way. Mats Sundin and Jason Allison will perform at well above a point per game going forward and Mikael Tellqvist will split the duties 50-50 with Ed Belfour between the pipes. All three will make decent rotisserie pickups for the price they could be had for.

2. Word out of Ottawa is Martin Havlat will be back from his shoulder injury in time to play between 8-10 games at the end of the season. It might be wise to pick up Tyler Arnason because, as the thrill of playing for a new team starts to wear thin and the sudden burst of offense begins to slow, his production will pick back up when Havlat is plunked on his line.

3. Sergei Gonchar and Chris Pronger will be two of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL these next few weeks. Gonchar has compiled 10 points in his last seven games and Pronger, after suffering through a horrible streak of 14 points in 28 games to begin his tenure with the Oilers, has put up 27 points in his last 27 games. I cannot, with any degree of certainty, name a single blueliner who will put up better numbers than these two.

4. The Buffalo Sabres are just one big scoring machine. Watching them these last few years I thought I'd never be able to say that, but their 2005-06 goals-per-game average is more than 3.5. That is fairly impressive. But since Daniel Briere, their leading scorer from 2003-04, returned from injury, they have been scoring at a 4.9 goals-per-game clip. Tim Connolly's return didn't hurt either. Poolies would be well advised to get their hands on some of these youngsters.

5. The rookies and second year players who belong to the teams that are out of the playoff hunt will receive increased ice time and, by extension, increased point totals. Conversely, the youngsters who belong to teams in the thick of things will get decreased ice time as the coaches use experience down the stretch. This fact only applies to young players who play on the second or third line. First-liners, such as Brad Boyes in Boston, aren't likely to see their ice time cut.

Farm Report: Springfield's Zdenek Blatny, a third round pick (68th overall), picked up nine points in four games en route to American League player of the week honors. The 25-year-old Tampa Bay prospect was acquired from the Bruins one month ago for goaltending prospect Brian Eklund. Blatny's stock had faded over the years, but he is in the midst of his best pro season ever, averaging just less than a point per game. He is expected to return to Europe next seasonÂ…Minnesota blue-chipper Patrick O'Sullivan has worked his way into a fourth place tie in the AHL scoring race.

Darryl Dobbs' Fantasy Hockey Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league - check out the latest scoop every Wednesday and Friday afternoon. Also, get the top 250 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN's Fantasy section.

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