Playoff race rolls on

Chilliwack Bruins radio colour-man Jacob Bestebroer writes a weekly column for the Chilliwack Progress during the Western Hockey League season.

Change is the theme is the 2010-11 Western Hockey League season, with teams bouncing up and down the Western conference standings on a nightly basis.The Chilliwack Bruins are locked in a fierce battle for playoff positioning. As Bruins radio colour man Jacob Bestebroer points out in this week’s column, they control their own destiny.Ten days ago the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western conference looked like it might be down to just two teams, the Bruins and Kamloops Blazers. The Prince George Cougars were no longer in the hunt for top spot in the B.C. division and the automatic second seed in the conference, but didn’t seem to be in any real danger of missing the playoffs. Seattle looked to be on the outside looking in with only a marginal chance of making the playoffs. Things have changed. You can see the full stats below, and I’m included a somewhat interesting stat that looks at the average strength of remaining opponents for each team. It’s a simple calculation that shows how many points (with two being the maximum) that each team’s remaining opponent’s average per game. Prince George: 11 games remaining (4 home 7 away)Home: Spokane, Spokane, Red Deer, KamloopsAway: Spokane, Everett, Chilliwack, Vancouver, Seattle, Tri-City, KamloopsOpponents average points per game: 1.15 The Cougars don’t look to be in too much danger of missing the playoffs right now but they can make it a lot easier on themselves by winning the four remaining games they have against teams below them in the standings. Three of their remaining 11 games are against the high-flying Spokane Chiefs.Kamloops: 10 games remaining (5 home 5 away)Home: Kelowna, Lethbridge, Tri-City, Kelowna, Prince GeorgeAway: Medicine Hat, Kootenay, Chilliwack, Kelowna, Prince GeorgeOAPPG: 1.12The Blazers have picked up five points in their last three games, all of which have been on the road and all of which went to overtime. They have two tough road games coming up in Medicine Hat and Cranbrook. The Blazers have the fewest remaining games and do not play three games in three nights. In fact the Blazers will not play three games in three nights once this season.Chilliwack: 14 games remaining (8 home 6 away)Home: Vancouver, Prince George, Lethbridge, Kamloops, Portland, Vancouver, Kelowna, EverettAway: Vancouver, Kelowna, Vancouver, Seattle, Spokane, Tri-CityOAPPG: 1.11The Bruins get a huge boost when captain Brandon Manning returns to the lineup this weekend after serving a seven game suspension. The Bruins have more games left than any other team on this list but that means nothing if they don’t win the extra games. Seattle: 12 games remaining (8 home 4 away)Home: Portland, Everett, Vancouver, Everett, Chilliwack, Prince George, Portland, Tri-CityAway: Tri-City, Portland, Kelowna, SpokaneOAPPG: 1.2The Thunderbirds have gotten themselves back in the race but still have a tough schedule ahead of them. As an added scheduling quirk that might work to their advantage, the T-Birds do have eight of their remaining twelve games as home games. That is not necessarily a good thing for them. Seattle has the second worst home record in the WHL. They’ve won only nine of their 28 home games this season. jb@chilliwackbruins.com

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