The Madness of March

The Thunderbirds got a big 2 points from Vancouver last night at ShoWare Center. Up 3-1 in the third, Seattle let Vancouver strike for 2 goals in 5 seconds to get the game even at 3. In the shootout, a couple good saves by Danny Mumaugh and goals by Shea Theodore and Roberts Lipsbergs got the TBirds the victory.

Those 2 points improved the TBirds record to 40-22-2-4, good for 86 points. Everyone else in the league was off so that moved Seattle 4 points clear of the 38-24-3-3 Chiefs and 5 points ahead of the 36-23-7-2 Silvertips. All three teams have played 68 games so far this season as the game against the Giants was the Thunderbirds game in hand over the teams chasing them for 4th. Here is how the last 7 days of the regular season look for each team:

4. Seattle 86 points

  • Tuesday vs Spokane, Friday vs Portland, Saturday @ Portland, Sunday @ Tri-City

5. Spokane 82 points

  • Tuesday @ Seattle, Wednesday vs Everett, Friday vs Tri-City, Saturday @ Tri-City

6. Everett 81 points

  • Wednesday @ Spokane, Friday @ Victoria, Saturday vs Victoria, Sunday @ Portland

Now, based purely on schedule, Everett is in the least ideal position. Only one home game left and it is on the back end of a home and home with Victoria. Lots of time to sleep on the bus but that is still a tough 2 nights for them. Spokane doesn’t leave it’s area code again after Tuesday. Seattle gets two home games against teams they have done well against in Kent but then have to travel for the final two of their season. The Tri-City Americans will have a lot of say as to where these three teams end up.

So on to some scenarios. Seattle with a 4 point lead over Spokane only needs 3 points to clinch no less than 5th place. A tie between Spokane and Seattle where both teams have an even number of wins would go to the Thunderbirds as they will have earned more points in the season series with the Chiefs. A regulation win over Spokane would accomplish this. Even though Spokane could still tie on points, they would also be tied in wins and would not prevail in the second tiebreaker.

Seattle needs 4 points to clinch 4th overall. The situation with the tiebreakers against Everett are a little more complicated. As we’ve discussed, first tiebreaker is wins. Everett needs to win out to match Seattle’s win total of 40. That would give the Tips 89 points. Seattle would need only 3 points to tie them. As both teams would be tied in points and wins, we would move on to total points in season series. Because Seattle and Everett played 2 overtime games this season and split the series, both teams ended up with 11 points in the 10 games. Next tiebreaker is where the math comes in. Here’s tiebreaker (a #3) from the WHL website:

If the two Clubs are still even, the edge goes to the Club with the highest ratio when taking goals for and subtracting goals against in regular season play.

As it stands right now, Everett has 202 goals for and 194 against while Seattle has 226 for and 230 against. So, unless the Thunderbirds win by large margins in their final games, they would lose the 3rd tiebreaker to the Silvertips.

Seattle could have all of this wrapped up with a regulation win on Tuesday and a Spokane win over Everett on Wednesday. They control their own destiny: win 2 and they have 4th place. But a loss on Tuesday will crowd their rear-view mirror quickly.