The Hawks’ Nest

Don’t open the champagne…yet
February 10, 2010, 10:37 am
Filed under: Winterhawks | Tags: ,

If you click on the WHL standings page today, the much-coveted ‘x’ is listed next to the Winterhawks, signifying that the team has clinched a playoff spot.

And that’s true, to some degree, depending on how you want to look at it.

Entering tonight’s game against Tri-Cities, the Winterhawks have 71 points. After losing to the Americans last night, the Thunderbirds have 37 points with 17 games to go. Best case scenario for Seattle is that they win all 17 games, and they would finish with 71 points. If that happens, and if Portland were to lose every remaining game in regulation, the two teams would be tied for the eighth playoff spot.

In that situation, even though Portland would own every conceivable tiebreaker (wins, head-to-head record, better uniforms, awesomest blogger), WHL rules dictate that two teams who tie for eighth place play a one-game playoff, as Prince Albert and Edmonton did last year.

So it becomes a matter of semantics at this point: yes, the Winterhawks have assured themselves of playing beyond the 72-game regular season, but they still haven’t qualified for the postseason.

Only once that happens will the team celebrate. For that spot to be clinched, all Portland needs to do is either win or force one game to overtime the rest of the way to gain a point, or have Seattle lose one game.

If and when that point is earned and the tiebreaker scenario is rendered moot, it won’t exactly be Mardi Gras down here at 300 Winning Way. The goal of just making the playoffs was trumped weeks, even months ago, as the team instead pursues home ice for at least one round, and still looks to close the gap between them and Tri-Cities for a division title, possible conference title and perhaps even home ice throughout the playoffs.

There are nine points separating Tri-Cities and Portland, with four head-to-head matchups left, beginning tonight at the Coliseum at 7 p.m. The Hawks haven’t been able to solve the Americans yet this season, but the team won’t be thinking about those games when they take the ice tonight. They’ll just be thinking about closing the gap from nine points to seven, and going from there.

Of course, it isn’t a two-team race. The Everett Silvertips also have 71 points, with two games in hand and two head-to-head matchups left. And Spokane is still lurking with 66 points and two games in hand.

It promises to make for an exciting stretch run.

Still on the topic of tonight’s game, note that the venue has been changed to the Coliseum to accommodate the rescheduled Elton John/Billy Joel concert.

Also, Mike Johnston will be away from the team for this weekend’s games in Prince George as he embarks on a recruiting trip. If this year’s recruiting efforts net anything close to last year’s in which the team brought in Ryan Johansen, Spencer Bennett, Taylor Aronson, Seth Swenson, and more recently, Mac Carruth, then the team will continue to be a force in the years to come.

Finally, Luca Sbisa and the Swiss Olympic team played a tune-up game last night in Winnipeg against Belarus, and the Swiss dropped a 2-1 decision. The two teams will play again tomorrow morning. Sbisa is wearing #91 for the Swiss team.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Come on Hawks, lets’ “clean up Hanford”!

Comment by Tofer

Too bad the officials missed a good game, Hawks are on a roll and not looking back. Go Hawks.

Comment by Ken Nelson

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