Thunderbirds playing for home ice as playoffs near

Feb 21, 2014, 10:28 AM | Updated: 10:35 am

Tbirds-644
If the playoffs began today, Seattle would face U.S. Division rival Spokane. (Seattle Thunderbirds photo)

By Tim Pigulski

With just 12 games remaining in the regular season, the playoff picture is becoming clear for the Thunderbirds.

Seattle currently sits in fourth place in the Western Conference, comfortably nestled in between third-place Victoria and fifth-place Spokane.

With 88 points, Victoria is nine points ahead of Seattle and playing its best hockey of the season. In their past 10 games, the Royals are 9-0-1-0 and have earned points in 14 consecutive contests. Even though Seattle has two games in hand on its B.C. Division foe, the likelihood that the Thunderbirds can catch Victoria is a reach at this point.

In the Thunderbirds’ rearview mirror is the Spokane Chiefs, a team that they’ve utterly dominated this season en route to a 7-0-0-0 record in head-to-head matchups. In those contests, the Thunderbirds have outscored their I-90 rival 29-9, including two straight 4-0 shutouts. Spokane currently sits six points behind the Thunderbirds with both teams having played 60 games.

If the playoffs were to begin today, Victoria would host the Vancouver Giants, and Seattle would have home-ice advantage in the first round against Spokane.

With the success the Thunderbirds have had against the Chiefs this season, they may prefer their current first-round matchup. If the Thunderbirds were to make an improbable jump past Victoria in the standings, they’d host Vancouver or Everett, which sits four points behind the Giants with three games in hand.

The Thunderbirds’ record against Vancouver is 2-1-0-0 with one game remaining, and they are 5-1-1-0 against Everett with three matchups remaining in the regular season. However, the Thunderbirds haven’t dominated either team as consistently as they have Spokane, especially lately.

Last season saw the Chiefs enter the playoffs as the Western Conference’s fourth seed, where they played the Tri-City Americans and beat them handily, winning the best-of-seven series 4-1.

The Thunderbirds’ 79 points are already the most they’ve had since the 2007-08 season, when they had 91 points at the end of the year. With 12 games remaining, Seattle could certainly eclipse that total and reach its highest point total since 2002-03, when the Thunderbirds finished with 94 points. Seattle’s single-season record is 107 points, set during the 1989-90 season.

Follow Tim Pigulski on Twitter @tpigulski.

Thunderbirds

Thunderbirds GM Bil La Forge has some moves to make this offseason. (Brian Liesse/T-Birds photo)...
Andy Eide

Thunderbirds GM Bil La Forge dishes on the upcoming offseason

Thunderbirds general manager Bil La Forge will make some moves this summer to improve his club. Will they be big ones?
2 years ago
Seattle’s Keltie Jeri-Leon celebrates his final WHL goal Sunday against Spokane. (Brian Liess...
Andy Eide

Thunderbirds end strange and hard season on a high note with dominating win over Spokane

The Seattle Thunderbirds dealt with a lot of adversity this season but end on a high note.
2 years ago
Keltie Jeri-Leon plays his final WHL game for the Thunderbirds Sunday night. (Brian Liesse)...
Andy Eide

Keltie Jeri-Leon set to play his final WHL game as Thunderbirds face Spokane Sunday

After five seasons, Seattle's lone over-aged player, Keltie Jeri-Leon will play his final junior game Sunday night.
2 years ago
Seattle rookie Scott Ratzlaff won his first WHL game in his first start. (Judy Simpson/TC Americans...
Andy Eide

Scott Ratzlaff earns first WHL win as Thunderbirds beat Tri-City

Behind a rookie goalie, the Thunderbirds kicked off the season's final weekend with a 5-2 win in Kennewick against the Tri-City Americans.
2 years ago
The Seattle Thunderbirds celebrate after snapping a six-game losing streak Sunday night. (Brian Lie...
Andy Eide

Thunderbirds enjoy winning again after snapping six-game losing streak

The Seattle Thunderbirds have been scuffling but battled against a good Portland Winterhawks club to snap a six-game losing streak.
2 years ago
Thunderbirds forward Reid Schaefer fights for position Sunday in Portland. (Megan Connelly/Winterha...
Andy Eide

Dealing with adversity, young Thunderbirds drop pair of games in Portland

Injuries and penalties have thrown a ton of adversity at the young Thunderbirds which showed up in a pair of losses at Portland this weekend.
2 years ago
Thunderbirds playing for home ice as playoffs near