Weekends don’t come more challenging than this.
Everett entertains Edmonton on Friday and Portland on Saturday. Edmonton is the defending league champion, leading the Eastern Conference by 10 points, and ranked fourth in the entire Canadian Hockey League. Portland is the defending conference champion, leading the Western Conference by 13 points, and ranked second in the CHL.
These teams are the best of the best, and it’s an opportunity to see a ton of NHL prospects. Edmonton has nine NHL draft picks on its roster (including first-rounders Griffin Reinhart and Henrik Samuelsson, though Samuelsson is suspended and won’t play Friday), Portland has six NHL draft picks (including first-rounder Derrick Pouliot), and both have multiple players ranked high for the upcoming NHL draft. If you’re into seeing players who will one day be impact players at the NHL level, this is the weekend to come out to Comcast Arena.
However, that means it’s going to be extremely difficult for the Tips to get any points from these two games, even though they’re at home. Everett desperately needs points to ensure a 10th straight playoff appearance. If the Tips get anything from either of these two games, they deserve a trip to the postseason.
Edmonton and Portland actually played one another Wednesday in a rematch of last year’s WHL finals, with the Oil Kings coming from behind in the third period to win 4-3 on the road. The game was supposedly a barn burner.
Given the difficulty of Friday’s and Saturday’s opponents, one would think the Tips should target Sunday’s game at Vancouver. The Giants have the worst record in the league, and Everett is 5-0 against Vancouver this season. But the Giants have been winning games lately, including an impressive 5-3 victory at Kamloops on Wednesday.
So nothing is going to come easy for the Tips this weekend.