It’s crunch time in the Western Hockey League as the battle for playoff positioning comes down to the wire. The Chilliwack Bruins are locked in a fierce five-way battle. As Bruins radio colour man Jacob Bestebroer points out in this week’s column, pieces of the puzzle are constantly moving and the tie-breaking formulas are enough to make one’s head spin.
With three wins in their last four games the Bruins have pulled to within three points of the final playoff spot in the Western conference.
Going into this weekend the Bruins are in ninth place with 59 points. Kamloops and Prince George have 62 points each with Everett in sixth place with 63. The Seattle Thunderbirds are still in the race as well. They are currently in 10th place with 57 points.
The Bruins have three games in hand on Kamloops, two on Prince George and Seattle and one on Everett.
It looks like a good possibility that at least two of these teams will end up tied in points at the end of the regular season, so let’s take a quick look at the Western Hockey League’s tie-breaking procedure.
The first tie breaker is total wins.
If that is a tie, the edge goes to the team with the most points in the head-to-head regular season series.
If that doesn’t settle it, it goes to best goal differential for the season (goals for minus goals against). If that is tied as well it goes to goal differential in the head to head games. If that is still tied the two general managers leg wrestle.
Or maybe a coin flip.
If three teams are tied in the standings it’s slightly different. The first tie breaker is total wins, then it goes to total goal differential, then points earned in games head to head then to goal differential in the head to head games.
However, it changes if teams are tied for the eighth and final playoff spot.
If this happens, there is a one game playoff to decide which team gets in.
The tie-breaking procedure listed above is used to determine which team hosts the game. If three teams tie for final playoff spot the same tie-breaking procedure is used to give one team seventh place.
Then the remaining two teams play the one game playoff.
As it stands right now, Seattle has 25 wins, Chilliwack and Everett have 27 wins and Kamloops and Prince George have 29.
Looking at season goal differential, Prince George is -11, Everett -30, Chilliwack -36 and Kamloops -49.
Seattle ranks last at -57.
It will likely come down to the last weekend till we have a good idea which teams would win tie breakers versus each other, but starting Saturday I will be updating all the different possibilities in the game previews on the Bruins website (www.chilliwackbruins.com).
Shifting gears, with two assists in Wednesday’s 3-1 over Lethbridge, Kevin Sundher now has points in 11 straight games.
That puts him three games off the team record of 14 set by Mark Santorelli.
Santorelli, now with the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals, had two 14 game point streaks while with the Bruins. The second longest point streak by a Bruin was 12 games by Oscar Moller in 2007-08.
Other double digit point streaks by Bruins include 11 games by Roman Horak (2010-11), 10 games by Howse (three times this season), Sundher (2009-10) and Moller (2006-07).
The Bruins need just two more power play goals to equal the single season team record of 75, set in 2007-08. The Bruins are clicking on 22.3 per cent on their man advantages.
The best the Bruins have been in one season was 20.7 per cent, also in 2007-08.