The Spokane Chiefs may already know who they will face in the first round of the Western Hockey League playoffs, but there is still unfinished business to tend to.
The Chiefs, who are locked into a best-of-7, first-round playoff series with the Vancouver Giants, have seven games remaining. They’ll host the Kelowna Rockets tonight in the first of five remaining home games, three of which they will play this week.
“Before we think about (Vancouver) we have seven games to play, so we need to take care of that before we think about anything else,” Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said following the team’s practice Tuesday at Eagles Ice-A-Rena.
“We want to make sure our team game is in order and that we take that game into the playoffs,” Nachbaur added. “It’s going to be important for us.”
Still at stake, and also important for Spokane, is home-ice advantage against the Giants – a team Spokane is familiar with in the playoffs in recent history.
“That’s also what these seven games are about,” Nachbaur said. “We play well at home and we want to secure that for ourselves.”
The series will mark the third time the clubs have met in the playoffs, with each team winning one series.
Spokane defeated Vancouver in six games in the second round of the 2008 playoffs en route to its WHL and Memorial Cup championships.
The following season, Vancouver won the series that went the distance, with the final three games going into overtime. The two played the second-longest game in WHL history in Game 5 – a 3-2 quadruple-overtime win for Spokane.
The Chiefs (35-22-5-3) and Giants (37-25-1-3) are tied for fourth with 78 points apiece in the Western Conference standings, although Vancouver has more wins – which would be the tiebreaker if it comes down to that.
The Giants have six games remaining – four at home and two on the road.