There are 4 teams still looking to clinch a spot in the WHL's Western Conference; Prince George is in 7th with 66 points followed immediately by Everett with 66. Currently on the outside looking in are the Kamloops Blazers with 63 points and Seattle with 61.
The T-Birds have the biggest hill to climb as they'll need to run the table and hope the clubs ahead of them all fail to pick up points. That won't happen though because, although PG and Kamloops each only have two games left, they are against each other so points are guaranteed.
It's become a bit of a snail race though as the four teams have combined to win just 15 of their last 40 games, Seattle has 6 of those victories.
Crazy playoff thoughts follow...
So who gets in? PG and Kamloops have 2 games left, a home-and-home with each other. Everett has a tough schedule with 4 road games to go in Tri-City, Vancouver, Portland and Chilliwack. Seattle also plays Tri-City and Portland but their other two dates are with Spokane and Kelowna.
Not a lot of wins left in the future for the four teams trying to get into the playoffs.
Two years ago we saw a tie breaker used in the Eastern Conference to decide whether Edmonton or Prince Albert would be lucky enough to host two games before being swept by the Calgary Hitmen. (Edmonton got the honor but that series was closer than the 4-game sweep would suggest).
Could another tie breaker be in the future for the WHL this year? Here's a scenario for you...
Kamloops beats Prince George in overtime once and regulation time in the other game. Both clubs would end up with 67 points. Meanwhile, the Silvertips only manage to win once (or get two points) from their last 4 games which is feasible considering that they are all on the road and against tough clubs. That would mean Everett would also end up with 67 points.
We know that if two teams are tied for the 8th and final chair in the post season dance, they'll have a single playoff to determine who gets in (like EDM vs PA two years ago).
But what would the WHL do to break a 3-way tie for the final two playoff spots?
Here's the answer:
b) In the event three (3) or more Clubs finish tied in total points in WHL standings, the edge goes to the Club with the most victories. Should the Clubs have won the same number of games, then the higher position shall be awarded to the Club having the greatest ratio when taking goals for and subtracting goals against in regular schedule play. If the Clubs are still tied, the total records of the Clubs against each other will be used with the Club with most points having the edge. If it is still even, the Club with the most victories among the Clubs will have the edge. If the Clubs are still tied, the Club with the highest ratio when taking goals for and subtracting goals against in regular season play among the Clubs will advance.Here's another thought: Right now Portland holds the #1 seed. If that stays true and their first round opponent turns out to be Prince George... would the league go to a 2-3-2 format? We're talking close to 2500 KM and (according to Google Maps) nearly 31 hours of driving time, ONE WAY. Would the league let the teams fly?
If the 2-3-2 format were agreed on, how much does that benefit the lower seeded team? If you can somehow manage a split on the road you come back home for 3 straight. I'd have to think the Cougars would be much more enthused about that scenario than the Winterhawks would be.
Only two positions in the West is written in ink, Kelowna will be the #2 seed and Tri-City will be #4, the last week of the WHL schedule is going to provide a lot of drama and intrigue. And in the end, 72 games might not have been long enough.
For what it's worth Portland and PG have met twice in the playoffs before, 1997 and 2001, and both were 2-2-1-1-1. Both went six games, so there were a lot of trips back and forth, and I'm pretty sure they went by bus.
I wouldn't even say TC and Kelowna is settled, because seeding for the second round is a big deal as well.
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