The Prince George Cougars are benefactors of being in the B.C. Division, which the standings show is clearly the weakest in the WHL.
Four of the five teams in that B.C. Division have a losing record.
In comparison, four of the six teams in both the East and Central Divisions have a record above .500 while four of the five teams in the U.S. Division have a winning record.
Let’s look at a recent example of comparing a bottom team in the East to three teams in B.C.
The (19-25-3) Prince Albert Raiders are last in the East Division and 11th out of 12 in the Eastern Conference.
The Raiders are a longshot to making the playoffs, sitting six points out and having to jump three teams to get in.
The (19-21-4) Cougars are 2nd in the B.C. Division and 6th in the Western Conference and look like a lock to get a post-season berth.
The (18-22-4-2) Vancouver Giants are tied in points with Prince George but the Cats have two games in hand.
Eight of the 10 make it to playoffs in the Western Conference and eight out of 12 make it in the East, so there is a big advantage to being in the West.
Not only did Prince Albert go on the road and win in Prince George, Victoria, and Langley but they did so convincingly by three goals.
The Raiders beat the Cougars (on Saturday) and the Giants (on Wednesday) by a 4-1 score and the Royals by a 6-3 tally (on Tuesday).
Prince George has had difficulty against East Division teams going 1-4, which isn’t a surprise considering what we now know.
The Cougars’ schedule/results show they lost to Brandon 2-1 on October 12th, lost to Winnipeg 4-1 on October 15th, beat Moose Jaw 5-2 on Nov 23rd, lost to Regina 5-1 on December 2nd, and dropped that 4-1 decision to Prince Albert on January 28th.
All of those five were at CN Centre.
The Cougars also host Saskatoon on Feb. 14th.
Prince George starts its February schedule with a home double this weekend against (14-29-4-1) Victoria followed by two home games Tuesday and Wednesday against (15-26-3) Kelowna.
Both the Rockets and Royals are tied for the 8th and final playoff spot, yet both are trailing P.G by a whopping nine points.
Victoria has played four more games than Prince George.
The Cougars are getting a break, playing in a weaker division, with an upcoming favourable schedule with most of their remaining 24 games at home and against teams with a losing record.
The East may have a beef about having some decent teams that will not make the playoffs.
Even the (23-21-2-1) Regina Pats, with Connor Bedard, are not safe, sitting 7th in the Eastern Conference but only two points ahead of Swift Current and three in front of fast-charging Medicine Hat (4-0-2 in its last six).
This is one time that geography works in favor of P.G. being located in arguably the easiest province in the country.
Now it is up to them to take advantage.
Once the playoffs roll around, the Cougars’ dismal record against the East Division will long be forgotten.
Cat Scan podcast:
The @PGCougars coach/gm Mark Lamb opens up on a number of topics in this week’s 39-minute Cat Scan #podcast. Lamb addresses the team’s goalie situation, undisciplined penalties, underachieving record, favourable upcoming #schedule, his numerous talks with #NHL scouts & more. https://t.co/DYrR0ayvXV
— Hartley Miller (@Hartley_Miller) February 1, 2023
Bedard almost fills Saddledome; Pats escape with shootout victory . . . Sydor, Ernst spark Blazers . . . Raiders enjoying B.C. tour https://t.co/lV30oTqvBb
— Gregg Drinnan (@gdrinnan) February 2, 2023
FROM THE QUOTE RACK:
The San Francisco 49ers lost both quarterbacks to injury in the NFC Championship game. Regarding their offense in light of this, no one has seen anything more one-dimensional since Forrest Gump.
*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California
So why does Tom Brady keep retiring on February 1? Does he want his own personal version of Groundhog Day?
*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com
The Edmonton Oilers hung updates of their 20 total NHL division, conference, and Cup banners at Rogers Place. Not to be outdone, the Winnipeg Jets installed new Plexiglas.
*Western Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com
Hartley Miller is the news and sports director/supervisor plus morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97fm. He is in his 10th season as the radio colour commentator for Prince George Cougars’ home games. Hartley has been on the airwaves in PG since 1979 and is the author of You Don’t Say (sports quotes).