LYNNWOOD – The Everett Silvertips are in.
Now it’s just a matter of sorting out the details.
With six games remaining in the regular season, Everett is already assured a place in the Western Hockey League playoffs, which begin March 18. But who the Silvertips play and where those games will be played are still to be determined.
The Silvertips, who are tied for first place in the U.S. Division with Tri-City, are in prime position to earn the top seed and earn home-ice advantage.
“I don’t know what kind of record it would take,” Everett coach Kevin Constantine said of winning the division. “You’ve probably got to win four of those (remaining six games), at least, to win a division championship. Having four on the road and only two at home, we’ve got our work cut out for us. But nonetheless, right now we’re still in control of things in that if we were to win all six, we’d have the championship. We don’t know that we’re going to win all six, but we’re still in control of our own destiny.”
The first round of the playoffs features best-of-seven series within the division, with the first-place team playing the fourth-place team and the second-place team facing the third-place team. The higher-seeded team gets the home-ice advantage.
The two winners advance to the second round and join a pool with the two winners from the B.C. Division. The teams will be reseeded based on regular-season records with the No. 1 seed playing the No. 4 seed and the No. 2 seed playing the No. 3 seed, again in a best-of-seven series.
The winner of those series square off in a best-of-seven for the Western Conference championship, and the winner of that plays the Eastern Conference champ in a best-of-seven for the WHL title.
The WHL champion then advances to the Memorial Cup, a four-team tournament pitting the champions of the WHL, Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the host team. This year’s Memorial Cup is being played in Kelowna, B.C., meaning that if Kelowna wins the WHL championship, the runner-up advances to the Memorial Cup.
But at this stage, the Silvertips are more concerned with getting the highest possible seed for the first round than with the Memorial Cup. Three teams from the U.S. Division – Everett, Tri-City and Portland – have already qualified for the playoffs, and Spokane is on the brink of sewing up the final spot, leading last-place Seattle by eight points.
However, the seedings are far from certain. Everett and Tri-City are currently tied for first with 74 points, Everett having played one fewer game, and Portland is right behind with 72 points. Spokane, with 67 points, could still theoretically rally to earn the top spot.
Looking at matchups, it would appear that Everett would be best suited to face Portland in the first round. The Silvertips finished the season 7-3-2 against Portland, outscoring the Winter Hawks 34-24 in the process. Everett split its eight games against Spokane 4-4. With two matchups still remaining, Everett is 3-5-1 against Tri-City, and should Seattle somehow pass Spokane for fourth, the Silvertips are 3-2-3 against the T-birds with three games remaining.
But the Silvertips are not concerned with who they draw in the first round.
“In our division, teams are so close and teams have done so well in the other teams’ rinks that I’m not sure there’s a whole lot of advantage,” Constantine said.
Playoff ticket packages are now available and can be purchased by calling the Silvertips office at 425-252-5100.