Here’s where things stand in the Western Conference playoff race:
7) Seattle, 54 points, five games remaining
8) Everett, 52 points, five games remaining
9) Prince George, 46 points, seven games remaining
Seattle (5) — PG, Evt, TC, @Por, Por.
Everett (5) — @Spo, @Sea, @Vic, Vic, TC.
Prince George (7) — @Sea, @TC, @Van, @Spo, @Kel, @Kam, Kam.
Seattle and Prince George both won earlier this week, the Cougars beating Tri-City 3-0 on Tuesday and the T-birds winning 4-2 at Spokane on Wednesday. Seattle and Prince George play one another Friday in Kent, so at least one of those teams will earn points that night. That means the impetus is on the Tips to get some results, or else they risk falling back into a last-minute fight for their playoff lives.
Saturday looms large as Everett plays a huge game at Seattle in the teams’ final meeting of the season, and once again the final game between the two proves vital. Last season it came down to the teams’ final head-to-head game on the final weekend of the season to determine who made the playoffs and who didn’t. Everett won 6-4, coming from behind four times in an intense encounter.
The circumstances are a little different this season. This time the final meeting comes on the season’s penultimate weekend, and as things currently stand it seems more relevant for determining seeding than it does actually making the playoffs. Nevertheless, the stakes are high and it’s certain to be intense.
Everett could be without one of its stars from last season’s final encounter. Center Manraj Hayer, who scored twice in that thriller versus Seattle, sat out Tuesday’s 6-3 loss at Portland because of illness, and he remains questionable for this weekend’s games.