THE ROAD TO THE 2012 WHL PLAYOFFSFeb 13, 2012 - 04:42 MST
Calgary, AB – The 2011-12 Western Hockey League regular season is in the stretch run, with five weeks left to play before the post-season begins.
Three Western Conference teams have locked up playoff spots thus far, and no team has yet been eliminated from playoff contention.
The WHL's Eastern and Western Conferences will use a Conference playoff format.
The first place teams in the two Divisions in each Conference will receive the top two playoff seeds based on regular season points. The next six Clubs in each Conference, based on regular season points, will receive the 3rd - 8th playoff positions. The Clubs will be paired 1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6, and 4 vs. 5 in a best-of-seven series.
The first place Clubs in each Division will be guaranteed the top two playoff seeds in the first round. As in previous seasons, the format for the remaining three rounds of the WHL Playoffs will remain the same. The four Clubs winning first round series in each Conference will advance to the second round, where they will be ranked in order of regular season points. The Clubs will be paired 1 vs. 4, and 2 vs. 3 in best of seven series.
The two Clubs winning the second round series in each Conference will advance to the third round (WHL Conference Championships), where they will be ranked in order of regular season points. The Clubs will be paired 1 vs. 2 in a best of seven series.
The Eastern and Western Conference Champions will advance to the best of seven WHL Championship Series, with the Club having the most regular season points receiving home ice advantage
WHL EASTERN CONFERENCE
X denotes clinched playoff spot, *denoted Division leader
1). *Edmonton Oil Kings 56gp-37-12-3-4, 81pts (16 games remaining)
2). *Moose Jaw Warriors 56gp-35-15-5-1, 76pts (16 games remaining)
3). Medicine Hat Tigers 57gp-35-18-2-2, 74pts (15 games remaining)
4). Kootenay Ice 56gp-31-17-4-4, 70pts (16 games remaining)
5). Saskatoon Blades 56gp-34-21-0-1, 69pts (16 games remaining)
6). Calgary Hitmen 57gp-32-22-2-1, 67pts (15 games remaining)
7). Regina Pats 56gp-28-22-5-1, 62pts (16 games remaining)
8). Brandon Wheat Kings 57gp-28-26-1-2, 59pts (15 games remaining)
9). Red Deer Rebels 55gp-25-25-1-4, 55pts (17 games remaining)
10). Swift Current Broncos 57gp-20-31-2-4, 46pts (15 games remaining)
11). Lethbridge Hurricanes 58gp-22-35-0-1, 45pts (14 games remaining)
12). Prince Albert Raiders 56gp-18-35-1-2, 39pts (16 games remaining)
The Edmonton Oil Kings and Moose Jaw Warriors remain in the No. 1 and 2 spots in the Eastern Conference.
The Oil Kings currently hold a seven-point lead over Medicine Hat for first place in the Central Division and a five-point lead over the Warriors for top spot in the Conference. Edmonton continues its B.C. Division tour this week with a marquee match-up versus the Kamloops Blazers on Tuesday.
The Warriors currently boast a seven-point lead over Saskatoon for top spot in the East Division, but trail Edmonton by five points for first place in the conference. The Warriors host Saskatoon before playing a home-and-home series versus Medicine Hat on the weekend.
The Tigers stretched their winning streak to five games after picking up three more victories this past week, and now sit four points clear for third place in the conference. The Tigers host Regina on Wednesday before next weekend’s home-and-home series versus Moose Jaw.
The Kootenay Ice picked up back-to-back wins to close out the weekend, moving them up into fourth place in the Eastern Conference – one point ahead of Saskatoon and four back of the Tigers. The Ice play the Tigers twice more and the Blades once more before the regular season wraps up.
The Blades occupy fifth place in the Eastern Conference after posting a 2-1 record in three games last week. 12 of the Blades’ final 16 games are versus teams below them in the standings.
The Hitmen suffered four losses over the past week, dropping them back to sixth place in the conference. The Hitmen embark for a three-game road trip through B.C. this week.
The Regina Pats went 1-1 through two games last week, and remain in seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings. Regina holds a seven-point cushion for a playoff spot and a three-point lead over Brandon for seventh place. The Pats will face the Wheat Kings five more times over the final five weeks of the season.
The Wheat Kings remain four points ahead of Red Deer for the final playoff spot in the conference, but have played two more games than the Rebels. The Wheat Kings visit Lethbridge and Kootenay on Tuesday and Wednesday before hosting the Prince Albert Raiders for a pair of games on the weekend.
The injury-plagued Rebels remain four points out of a playoff spot in the. Red Deer begins a stretch of eight straight road games with stops in Prince George, Kamloops, Kelowna and Vancouver this week.
The Broncos are 13 points out of a playoff spot in the conference, and have 15 games remaining to make up ground. Nine of the Raiders’ last 15 games are versus teams among the top six in the Eastern Conference.
The Hurricanes sit 14 points out of a playoff spot, and have the fewest number of games remaining among Eastern Conference teams. The ‘Canes host Brandon and Regina this week.
The Raiders are in the midst of a five-game losing skid, and currently sit 20 points out of a playoff spot. 13 of the team’s final 16 games are versus East Division opponents.
WHL WESTERN CONFERENCE
1). *Kamloops Blazers X 56gp-40-12-1-3, 84pts (16 games remaining)
2). *Tri-City Americans X 54gp-38-14-1-1, 78pts (18 games remaining)
3). Portland Winterhawks X 55gp-37-15-2-1, 77pts (17 games remaining)
4). Spokane Chiefs 55gp-31-17-4-3, 69pts (17 games remaining)
5). Vancouver Giants 56gp-32-21-1-2. 67pts (16 games remaining)
6). Kelowna Rockets 56gp-24-25-3-4, 55pts (16 games remaining)
7). Seattle Thunderbirds 55gp-19-34-1-1, 40pts (17 games remaining)
8). Victoria Royals 56gp-17-33-2-4, 40pts (16 games remaining)
9). Everett Silvertips 56gp-15-32-1-8, 39pts (16 games remaining)
10). Prince George Cougars 54gp-17-35-0-2, 36pts (18 games remaining)
The Kamloops Blazers, Tri-City Americans and Portland Winterhawks have locked up playoff spots, while the Spokane Chiefs and Vancouver Giants are closing in on clinching playoff spots.
The Blazers sit in first place in the B.C. Division, Western Conference and overall WHL standings with 84 points, and hold a commanding 17-point lead over Vancouver for first place in the B.C. Division. The Blazers host three Central Division opponents over the next week.
The Americans dropped two of their three games over the past week, and have seen their U.S. Division lead dwindle to just one point over the Portland Winterhawks. The Ams host Vancouver on Tuesday before a crucial clash with the Winterhawks on Wednesday.
The Winterhawks locked up a playoff spot after winning all three games they played over the last week, and currently sit just one point out of the U.S. Division lead. The Hawks play nine of their final 17 games at home, where they boast a 23-3-1 record.
The Spokane Chiefs sit two points up on Vancouver for fourth place in the Western Conference after winning two of three games over the last week. The Chiefs can clinch a playoff spot with four more points.
The Giants earned two of a possible six points from three games in the last week, and find themselves in fifth place in the Western Conference. The Giants need just six points from their final 16 games to clinch a playoff spot.
The Rockets remain firmly entrenched in sixth place in the conference, trailing the Giants by 12 points for fifth spot while leading Seattle and Victoria by 15 points for sixth place.
The Royals and Thunderbirds are deadlocked for seventh place in the Western Conference, but sit just one point up on Everett and four points up on Prince George for playoff spots. The Thunderbirds play Everett four more times and Prince George twice more over their final 17 games, while the Royals play the Cougars four times and the ‘Tips twice more this season.
The Silvertips won three of their four games over the last week, and now sit just one point out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. The ‘Tips host the Portland Winterhawks and Vancouver Giants next weekend.
The Cougars sit four points behind Seattle and Victoria for a playoff spot in the conference, but hold at least one game in hand on all three teams they are chasing. The Cougars host Red Deer on Wednesday before heading out on the road for four straight games.
BOB CLARKE TROPHY RACE
1. Mark Stone, BRN 51gp-36g-54a-90pts
2. Emerson Etem, M.H 50gp-51g-38a-89pts
3. Ty Rattie, POR 52gp-44g-45a-89pts
4. Jordan Weal, REG 55gp-31g-58a-89pts
5. Michael St. Croix, EDM 56gp-36g-51a-87pts
6. Brendan Shinnimin, T.C. 51gp-34g-51a-85pts
7. Adam Hughesman, T.C. 54gp-32g-52a-84pts