Playoffs are just around the corner and things are heating up in the wild Western conference.
In this week’s column, Chilliwack Bruins radio colour man Jacob Bestebroer delves into an unusual playoff possibility.
As we near the final third of the Western Hockey League season it’s looking more and more like finishing seventh in the Western Conference is going to be a much better finish than sixth or even fifth.
The top eight teams in the conference will make the playoffs with the top two seeds being the U.S. and B.C. division winners.
There are still enough games left in the season for things to change but it’s looking like the top three teams in the west will all be from the U.S. Division.
Portland, Tri-City and Spokane have earned themselves some separation from the rest of the conference.
If that holds up, one of these three teams will get the number one seed but the other two teams will be slotted in at numbers three and four because the B.C. Division would get the number two seed.
So that means the eight, six and five seeds would get the true top three teams in the conference as first round playoff opponents.
The number seven seed would get the top team in the B.C. division, a team that will likely finish with the fourth best record in the conference.
Giving division winners the top seeds in the conference is done in many leagues at different levels in different sports and it makes sense, but it seems strange to me that a team could go into the final weekend of action and actually benefit from dropping from fifth or sixth to seventh in the conference.
The only way to avoid this would be to go to a more balanced schedule and eliminate the divisions.
There’s no real chance that would ever happen though, as teams have built up their biggest rivalries with teams in their current division and taking away some of those head to head games and replacing them with games against teams from the other division could have a negative effect on attendance.
It would also mean additional travel costs for some of the teams.
Congratulations to Ryan Howse for scoring his 30th goal of the season Tuesday against Spokane. Ryan and Oscar Moller are the only Bruins to have reached the 30 goal mark. Howse has now done it three years in a row.
This weekend is an important one for the Bruins.
They’ve played fewer games than the other four teams in the division and they start to make those up with three games in three days beginning Friday in Kamloops.
All three games are against B.C. division teams.
Prince George is here Saturday before the Bruins visit Vancouver Sunday.
The Bruins and Cougars have split the first six head to head match ups this season and have built up a healthy dislike for each other.
I expect Saturday’s game to be a spirited affair, and if you are thinking about going to the game, visit the Bruins official Facebook page for a coupon that will save you over four dollars on an adult ticket.