If the Western Conference playoff seedings don't change in the next 3 1/2 weeks, the Spokane Chiefs could do worse than a first-round matchup against the Everett Silvertips. Read story
Under the Western Hockey League's new playoff format, Spokane and Everett are currently lined up to meet in the first round of postseason. Everett would be the No. 2 seed, as the conference's division champion with the second-best record, and Spokane would be the No. 7 as the wild-card team with the best record.
The matchup certainly isn't set in stone. Portland could pass Everett and win the U.S. Division, giving the Winterhawks the No. 2 seed, and Tri-City could slip past Spokane and give the Chiefs the No. 8 seed and a matchup with Kelowna.
But if Spokane and Everett match up, Wednesday's Chiefs victory shows that Spokane could make it out of the first round. The Chiefs played even-up with the division leaders for two periods and dominated the third.
"We talked about playing for 60 minutes," said Chiefs head coach Don Nachbaur. "The first two periods, it was the process. We finished checks, we got pucks in. I thought we wore them out. The end result is they didn't have a lot of legs left at the end."
"We used all four lines and everyone contributed," said Chiefs center Calder Brooks, Wednesday's hero with two goals and one assist. "We played a really physical game and wore them down. We had a good third, so it's a good feeling in there (the locker room)."
Everett had defeated Spokane three consecutive times, but two of those games occurred during the Chiefs' struggles with injuries. Spokane had as many as nine scratches in a game.
"I've never really been on a team where we've had nine regulars out of the lineup," Brooks said. "It's pretty unheard of. That just speaks volumes to how well our team has played through adversity. We've done that and we're close to getting healthy."
"I thought everybody contributed," Nachbaur said. "Our fourth line gave us some big minutes tonight and it's been a long time since we had four lines. ... A lot of positives from my standpoint. The 'D' played really well. Our goaltender (Garret Hughson) was solid and we found some timely goals, especially on the power play, when we needed them."
Everett has won four of seven games from Spokane this season, but one of the wins came in overtime. The Silvertips have outscored Spokane only 24-23 this season, indicating that a first-round playoff could be a doozy.