POLL RESULTS: Voters heavily pick Tips for conference title

Nearly four-fifths of responders backed Everett to beat Tri-City in the Western Conference finals.

The Everett Silvertips haven’t won the WHL’s Western Conference championship since that magical inaugural season in 2003-04, when the Tips accomplished the type of things no other North American expansion team ever did until the Vegas Golden Knights took the NHL by storm this season. It’s 14 years later, and readers believe Everett finally will be following in that team’s footsteps.

This week’s Seattle Sidelines poll involved the Tips’ best-of-seven conference championship playoff series against the Tri-City Americans, which begins Friday night at Angel of the Winds Arena. The question was simple, as readers were asked to predict which team would prevail in the Western Conference championship series, Everett or Tri-City. Here’s the results:

Tally it up and 79 percent of the responders picked Everett to win the series against just 21 percent stumping for Tri-City. This is not an unexpected result considering this is, after all, an Everett-based publication. I will mention that the poll was retweeted by a few accounts not based in Everett, so there was some non-local representation. However, I’m sure that the vast majority of those who voted live in “Silvertips Country,” and tracking the results it didn’t seem the retweeting by non-Everett accounts caused spikes in the data as the spreads remained rather consistent.

It’s also not unexpected because Everett should be the favorite in the series. The Tips finished with the best record in the Western Conference during the regular season, while Tri-City finished fourth in the U.S. Division, 14 points behind Everett. The Tips also won five of the eight regular season match-ups between the teams. So while bookmakers probably wouldn’t give Everett that type of odds to win the series that the voters did, they undoubtedly would fade it toward the Tips.

But it’s not as simple as that. As I pointed out in a column that ran in Thursday’s paper, we don’t really know what this Tri-City team is. Everett only played the Americans once during the regular season when all of Tri-City’s high-profile players were available, and the Tips lost that one. And we have all kinds of mixed signals regarding whether the Americans are a legitimate conference championship contender or not.

So though the vote was definitive, I personally think there’s a lot more uncertainty going into this series than that. That said, I thought the second-round playoff series between Everett and Portland was going to be a thriller, yet the Tips had little trouble dispatching the Winterhawks in five games. The Americans profile similarly to the Winterhawks, with a lot of elite-level talent, but finished well behind Portland in the regular season standings. So maybe the voters are right.

We’ll find out beginning Friday night.

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