Three weeks ago, I wrote in this column that the Prince George Cougars were a  longshot to make the playoffs with 25 games left.

Today, with 17 games left, they remain arguably more of a longshot with the clock ticking.

At that time on January 24th, the Cougars were eight points back of the Seattle Thunderbirds for the last wild-card playoff spot with four head-to-head match-ups left.

Now (on Feb. 14th), the Cats are nine points back of the Thunderbirds with just one game left against each other (Feb. 23rd in Seattle).

In terms of catching Seattle, Prince George has actually lost ground.

While the Cougars may not overhaul the Thunderbirds, could they actually make a charge at the Kelowna Rockets, who hold down the first wild-card spot?

Three weeks ago, P.G. was 14 points behind Kelowna and today the deficit is 12.

Sure, that is not much progress, but the Rockets are slumping, the Cougars have a game-in-hand and they still have three games remaining against Kelowna, with two of them at CN Centre.

Prior to beating lowly Tri-City 8-3 on Wednesday, the Rockets had lost five straight and 8 of 10 with both of those wins in overtime.

In fact, Kelowna has played 17 games in 2020 (since Jan. 1st).

The Rockets have just two wins in regulation in the new year, both against Tri-City.

The other three Kelowna victories over that stretch were in overtime or a shootout.

It should be noted that the Rockets have been hit by the injury bug, but even with a full line-up, they don’t look like a team that deserves to play in the Memorial Cup which they host in May.

As a side note, there has been vocal opposition about whether the Rockets deserved to win the bid in 2018.

Kamloops Blazers majority owner Tom Gaglardi remains bitter today about the decision and recently sounded off publically.

While it remains doubtful, that P.G. can make up a dozen points on Kelowna in the final five weeks of the season, the Rockets did blow a big lead last year for a wild-card spot and ended up missing the playoffs.

Kelowna lost six of its eight games in March of 2019, not including a tie-breaker loss in Kamloops.

The Blazers caught the Rockets by winning five of their last six regular-season games last year, with the only loss in overtime to Prince George.

Here’s a brief look at the remaining schedules for three teams looking to secure one of two WHL wild-card berths.

Prince George: 

17 remaining games

(8 home): 2 vs. Kelowna, 2 vs. Vancouver and 1 each against Calgary, Red Deer, Kamloops and Lethbridge.

(9 away):  3 at Kamloops, 2 at Victoria and 1 each at Everett, Seattle, Vancouver and Kelowna.

Seattle:

17 remaining games

(9 home): 3 vs. Portland, 2 vs. Vancouver and 1 each against Moose Jaw, Prince George, Everett and Spokane.

(8 away):  2 at Portland, 2 at Everett, 2 at Vancouver and 1 each at Spokane and Kelowna.

Kelowna:

16 remaining games

(9 home): 1 each against Red Deer, Calgary, Everett, Seattle, Lethbridge, Victoria, Kamloops, Prince George and Vancouver.

(7 away): 2 at Victoria, 2 at Prince George and 1 each at Everett, Kamloops and Vancouver

Of the three teams, the Thunderbirds on paper appear to have the most difficult schedule as they still have to play Western-Conference leading Portland five times while the Cougars and Rockets do not have any games left against the Winterhawks, who are ranked #3 this week in the CHL rankings.

The Cougars are just 5-5 in their last 10 and their longest winning streak of the season is only three games.

If the Cougars win 10 of their last 17 that gives them 20 more points (assuming the seven losses are all in regulation time).

P.G. would need Seattle to lose 12 of its last 17 (for a total of 10 points) in regulation to pass the Thunderbirds.

The Cats would need Kelowna to lose 12 of its last 16 (for a total of 8 points) in regulation to tie the Rockets.

Granted, when one looks at the bleak situation for the Cougars, it appears they are headed to miss the post-season for a third straight year.

Having said that, as long as the mathematics remain in play, you’re telling me there’s a chance.

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This is season two of Hartley’s Cat-Scan, a weekly podcast show that primarily features the Prince George Cougars.

My guest on the 22nd Cat-Scan in year two is former PG Cougar Eric Hunter.

Eric touches on a number of topics including being selected twice in the NHL Draft, playing with Sidney Crosby and wearing Canadian colours plus ending his hockey career playing in Austria.

 

FROM THE QUOTE RACK:  

Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort predicts after losing 91 games in 2019, the team will win 94 games this year. Apparently he got a great deal on some used video equipment from the Houston Astros.

*Comedy writer Jim Barach http://jokesbyjim.blogspot.ca/

Madison Bumgarner’s former housekeeper — who pleaded guilty to possession of stolen property after she sold one of the pitcher’s wife’s $45,000 diamond earrings to a jeweller — was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and 30 months of probation. Not to mention MLB’s first “caught stealing” of 2020.

*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/

A research outpost in Antarctica recorded an all-time continental record high of 65 degrees recently. Global warming advocates predict the outpost could host the 2096 Super Bowl.

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

Long-time college basketball coach Bobby Knight got a standing ovation as he entered Indiana’s Assembly Hall for the first time in 20 years. Did the Hoosiers consider giving Knight the honour of throwing out the first chair?

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

In honour of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the top three curling bands:
3. The Rolling Stones;
2. Crowded House;
1. Ice-T.

*Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

Hartley Miller is the news and sports supervisor and morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97.
He also is the 94.3 the Goat radio colour commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to hmiller@thegoatrocks.ca