Race To The Finish…

As we approach the final eight weeks of the regular season, the race between 2nd and 4th in the U.S. Division is shaping up to be one of the better races in the WHL this season.  Everett, Portland and Spokane are battling for these three spots with the top two, most likely earning home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.

Who’s got the schedule advantage?

Here is a look at the remaining schedules and the average winning percentage of the opponents (based on home and away records):

Everett (currently 2nd with 65 points):

Home (11 games – road winning percentage of opponents = .489)

Portland (2 times), Kamloops, Spokane (2 times), Kelowna, Moose Jaw, Tri City, Prince George, Seattle, Chilliwack

Away (11 games – home winning percentage of opponents = .525)

Spokane (4 times), Vancouver, Tri City, Seattle, Kamloops, Prince George (2 times), Portland

Portland (currently 3rd with 62 points):

Home (11 games – road winning percentage of opponents = .487)

Seattle (2 times), Kamloops, Tri City (3 times), Moose Jaw, Kelowna, Prince George, Spokane, Everett

Away (10 games – home winning percentage of opponents = .495)

Everett (2 times), Vancouver, Seattle (3 times), Prince George (2 times), Tri City, Chilliwack

Spokane (currently 4th with 58 points):

Home (13 games – road winning percentage of opponents = .533)

Seattle, Kootenay, Everett (4 times), Kamloops, Moose Jaw, Tri City (3 times), Prince George, Kelowna

Away (11 games – home winning percentage of opponents = .631)

Kamloops (2 times), Chilliwack, Everett (2 times), Kootenay, Tri City (2 times), Portland, Seattle

So, from looking at the sheer numbers, it would appear that Spokane has the tougher schedule even though they have more games to play than either Everett or Portland. With the Chiefs playing the Silvertips six more times before now and the end of the season, I think Portland would be happy if they split those games 3-3 with all the games ending in regulation.

Portland is the benefactor of having five games left with Seattle, whom the Hawks have dominated so far this season and three games with the lowly Prince George Cougars.  But…you have to win those games and hopefully find a way to solve Tri City in the three home games remaining between those two teams.

Should be an interesting race…

Also, a “magic number” update:

Tri City – any combination of 11 points or 5.5 wins/Seattle losses

Everett — 19 points or 9.5 wins/Seattle losses

Portland — 22 points or 11 wins/Seattle losses

Vancouver — 23 points or 11.5 wins/Seattle losses

Spokane — 26 points or 13 wins/Seattle losses

Chilliwack — 32 points or 16 wins/Seattle losses

Kamloops — 33 points or 16.5 wins/Seattle losses

Kelowna — 38 points or 19 wins/Seattle losses

Lastly, congrats to Ian Curtis for being nominated for the CHL Goaltender of the Week for the third time this season.  He posted 2-0-0-0, with a 1.00 GAA and a .976 save percentage in wins over Seattle and Vancouver.

BTW…Curtis in 3 appearances against Vancouver in his career has a 1-1-0-0 record with a 2.46 GAA and a .951 save percentage…

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6 Comments

  1. Very informative blog today – thanks –

    When you get a chance (and if you think the reader’s might like a “refresher” course – I know I do), could you please post / blog how the WHL is now doing the playoff formats – I tried to find some info on the WHL site (but was unsuccessful …perhaps I was looking in wrong place)

    Key question(s) for yours truly – Does Vancouver get the #2 seed because they are going to win their Division? If the Hawks want to avoid seeing TC in the first two rounds, must they finish with the second or third most points? Thanks – FAX

  2. Fax:

    At the bottom of this page:

    http://whl.ca/stats/statdisplay.php?type=standings&subType=1&season_id=234&leagueId=26&lastActive=&singleSeason=&confId=0

    Vancouver is locked into #2 for the first round…but if we finish with more points and win in the first round, we’d be a higher seed for the second round (and would get home ice).

  3. Vancouver is assured the second seed if (when) they win the division, fax regardless of their point total. Makes no sense to me, other than to reward teams for simply playing in a softer division.

    Thanks for the info Andy. You’re a stat stud. Assuming Everett falls back to earth (hopefully beginning Friday night) I think the Hawks really hold their fate in their hands as far as the upcoming U.S. photo finish goes. A fourth or fifth finish at this point almost assures a second round scenario runs right through Kennewick.

  4. Can anyone explain why Spokane plays five games vs Kootenay when all the other western conference teams face them only once?

  5. Josh —

    It’s travel. Cranbrook is closer to Spokane than all of the other Western Conference towns other than Tri-City. So they play more times to help defray travel length/costs. The Ice have a long haul to most of their conference games too.

  6. Another quick comment – Not only does Portland obviously need to win their “fair share” of games, but they need the Tips and Chiefs to play “two point games” – the dreaded “loser points” could hurt the Hawks chances if the Tips and Chiefs play too many overtime games

    Worst case scenario – In those six games between Spokane and Everett, each team picks up nine points


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