The Prince George Cougars continue to struggle. The Prince George Spruce Kings have enjoyed a mostly successful month.
The Cats are well below .500, while the Spruce Kings have won more than half of their games.
And with both the Western Hockey League and B.C. Hockey League into the final few weeks of their regular season action, neither the Kings or Cats have discovered their post-season fate.
The Spruce Kings are close to securing a playoff berth. A win or a Vernon Vipers loss this weekend will mathematically quality the team. Further away from securing a berth, the Cougars will need to put a string of victories together and get help to sneak in.
So how else do the situations differ? Competition around them may be playing a role, but the bigger difference is in the number of playoff berths. The Spruce Kings play in the BCHL’s Interior Conference, where only half of the eight teams will advance to the playoffs. On the other hand, the WHL’s 10-team Western Conference has eight playoff positions.
Playoff races don’t get much worse than what’s happening in the WHL’s Western Conference, where the four bottom teams appear to be in a league of their own. This isn’t being pointed out to insult the Cougars. But let’s face it. When none of the four teams battling for two postseason berths can get on any sort of a roll, and sport well below .500 records, it doesn’t help make the race exciting. On the other hand, at least they’re close. But the Cougars can thank the Victoria Royals, Seattle Thunderbirds and Everett Silvertips for keeping them in the hunt.
As of Monday, none of the four teams had an above .500 record in its last 10 games. The combined record was 14 wins, 25 losses, zero overtime setbacks and one shootout defeat (14-25-0-1). Only the Silvertips, at 5-5, had half as many wins as losses in their last 10.
On the other hand, the Spruce Kings have 30 wins, 19 losses, two ties and four overtime defeats (30-19-2-4). While a postseason berth is all but assured for the third-place Spruce Kings, they’re 8-2 in their last 10 games and have risen up the conference standings in recent weeks. And they’re still in a very important race, the battle for second place in the division. Finishing second or third in the conference would mean avoiding a first-round encounter with the league-leading Penticton Vees (49-3-0-2), who won their league-record 37th in a row on Sunday when they downed the Spruce Kings 4-1.
Too bad for the Spruce Kings their best season in years is happening while the Vees are shattering league and team records. Take Penticton out of the picture and they’d a legitimate shot of winning the league title.
As long as the Vees are around, it’s their championship to lose.
The NHL Trade Deadline was on Monday and only 16 deals were made in the day.
Once again, the number of moves actually weren’t anywhere near the amount rumoured. And in the end, the level of excitement never matched the pre-trade deadline hype.
If nothing else, periods of inactivity made for humourous comments. To finish this column, here are a few quotes I picked up on Twitter during the day on Monday.
Jon @Awsum_Man: “Not sure what’s more disappointing… This year’s trade deadline? Or Alexandre Daigle?”
Meesh @PensFanMeesh7: “Sneak Peak at the deadline outcome: Winners: no one. Losers: everyone that paid attention to the trade deadline all day.”
Super Keeper League @SuperKeeperLgue: “It’s a good thing the 320 TSN insiders don’t get paid commission per trade. Teamsters stand around less than these guys.”