Tri-City Americans Playoff Hopes Coming Down to The Wire
With three games left, this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we might not know until Sunday night if the Americans will make the post-season.
Playing in arguably the toughest, most well-balanced division of the Western Hockey League - the U.S. Division - the Americans have dealt with more injuries than any team in the Western Conference. Yet, they're still in position to grab a wild-card berth.
This year, the WHL adopted the NHL and NFL style playoff brackets. In the past, the WHL modeled the NBA, taking the top 8 teams in each conference (East and West) and pairing them 1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6 and 4 vs.5, in the post season.
This year, it's different. The top six teams from the East and West are "locked in," regardless of their division. The top three teams from the U.S. Division are Everett, Portland and Seattle. They've clinched. In the British Columbia Division, it's Kelowna and Victoria. Their 3rd berth is still up for grabs.
Once the top six have clinched, they are seeded according to record. Then, the fun begins. The WHL will then fill out the post-season with two wild-card teams, to make the field of 8 in each conference.
These wild-cards teams, like the NFL and NHL, are the two teams with the next best records after the top six.
As of Wednesday, March 18, the Americans and Kamloops Blazers are tied with 61 points, two behind the resurgent Prince George Cougars. It's going to be a tough order for Tri-City, as they go Portland-Spokane-Portland this weekend.
Kamloops and Prince George will settle things mano-a-mano, as starting tonight, and continuing Friday and Saturday, they face each other 3 times in a row! The Americans will know Thursday if they have any breathing room going into this weekend, especially if Kamloops falls. While Kamloops and PG are vastly improved, most experts agree Tri-City has a harder road in the final three games.
The Americans have one of the only 3 games Sunday, in Portland, on the final day of the 2014-15 WHL regular season.
So, come out to the Toyota Center this Friday and Saturday, and cheer on the Americans as they push for another berth in the post-season!