We’re officially a month into the WHL season, and it’s starting to look like the league’s power is accumulated in the U.S. Division. I did a little math work, and here’s the leagues’ collective records and winning percentages by division:
East: 39-34-2-5, .519
Central: 35-33-4-3, .513
B.C.: 28-30-1-4, .484
U.S.: 39-19-2-3, .659 (!)
Three U.S. Division teams (Everett, Seattle and Spokane) have made one of their two road trips through the Central Division. Their record on those trips:
One East Division team has made its trek through the U.S. Division so far. Swift Current was in first place in the East when it hit road. The Broncos’ record through the first four games of its trip (Swift Current finishes up at Tri-City tonight):
While I’m at it, here’s the U.S. Division’s collective record against the B.C. Division:
There are seven teams in the league that have winning percentages of .682 or better. Four of those are in the U.S. Division.
Everett, at 8-2-2-0 with a .750 winning percentage, is right in the thick of this. But what does this mean in the bigger picture? More than half of Everett’s 72-game schedule comes against the U.S. Division. But the Tips have played just three of their 12 games against divisional opponents, and that’s not going to speed up anytime soon. Of Everett’s 38 divisional games, 27 come during the second half of the season. All the U.S. Division teams are in the same boat. Therefore, it’s critical to squeeze every possible point out of the first half, because the second half is going to be a bloodbath.
Here’s the other thing it means. Everett has a guarantee out to its season ticket holders of finishing sixth or better in the Western Conference this season. The Tips could have a perfectly fine season, yet still flirt with having to pay off on the guarantee. All those games against divisional foes could take a toll, and it’s certainly possible Everett could have a good season and still finish fourth in the division. It’s also possible for a split to occur in the B.C. Division, with the top three teams getting fat on the bottom two. Is it possible Everett fans could be completely satisfied with the Tips’ season, and still get their windfall?