One can not call this year’s WHL playoffs boring but it has been predictable.
While the NHL always has significant upsets and this year even the NBA has had surprises, that has not been the story in the WHL.
Do you realize that after three rounds and 14 series, the team that had more regular season points is a perfect 14-0?
Let’s break it down
First round: The team with more points posted an 8-0 record.
Second round: The team with more points went 4-0.
Third round: The team with more points went 2-0
My question is has this ever happened before—If so, how many times?
The answer comes from longtime WHL guru Greg Drinnan who reports “Good question. . . . I found one season since 2000-01 where the team with more points won each series, and that was in the spring of 2015. . . . I also did a quick scan of half-a-dozen early seasons and found that it happened in the spring of 1985 and again in 1990.”
Taking this a step further, only two of the 14 series have gone the full seven games and both involved the Saskatoon Blades.
The Blades knocked out Connor Bedard and the Regina Pats in seven games in round one and then became just the third WHL team to ever win a series after trailing 3-0 as they won the last four to eliminate Red Deer in seven.
The 2023 #WHLChampionship Series presented by Nutrien begins Friday in Winnipeg.#FeedingTheFuture
DETAILS 📝 | https://t.co/zKH3o9Yu2k pic.twitter.com/Ev1k6O2ZrK
— The WHL (@TheWHL) May 12, 2023
Both Seattle and Winnipeg loaded up their roster for a Memorial Cup run and over the next 11 days or less, we will find out which of these teams will become league champions.
Last year, Seattle lost the league final in six to Edmonton but because of a quirk in the schedule due to building availability, the Thunderbirds only got to play two of those six on home ice.
This year, the Thunderbirds have a much stronger balanced roster and will welcome the 2-3-2 format which starts with a pair of games in Winnipeg before heading to Kent, Washington.
As fans in P.G. saw first-hand in the second round, Seattle’s roster includes 10 players who have been drafted by NHL teams, while another six are in the Central Scouting rankings for the 2023 NHL Draft next month.
Winnipeg’s roster includes seven NHL-drafted players.
SEVENTEEN NHL Draft picks will be competing in the #WHLChampionship Series and Games 1 & 2 are THIS WEEKEND in the @CanadaLifeCtr! 🧊
Tickets ➡️ https://t.co/lttQqGiEUD pic.twitter.com/5QC04KThGC
— z – Winnipeg ICE (@WHLWpgICE) May 11, 2023
The WHL in general, and the ICE in particular, are obviously breathing a sigh of relief since the games in Winnipeg will be played at the Canada Life Centre (capacity of 15,321) rather than the Wayne Fleming Arena (capacity of about 1,900).
Drinnan states that Winnipeg is opening up only the bottom seats in the big rink, so the capacity will be about 8,800.
NEWS | WHL Championship Series will be played at Canada Life Centre
Details ➡️ https://t.co/yHMVwTC7px pic.twitter.com/VB8Btdxkpr
— z – Winnipeg ICE (@WHLWpgICE) May 8, 2023
The majority of Prince George fans will cheer for Seattle, not necessarily because they eliminated the Cougars, but because they have local PG product Nico Myatovic on the team as a third-line forward.
If one is looking for a prediction, Seattle will beat Winnipeg in six, ending the streak of the team with more regular season points coming out on top.
TSN will televise the series starting with Game 3.
2023 WHL Championship SeriesGame 1 – Friday, May 12: Seattle at Winnipeg (5:00 p.m. PT) Game 2 – Saturday, May 13: Seattle at Winnipeg (4:00 p.m. PT) Game 3^ – Tuesday, May 16: Winnipeg at Seattle (7:05 p.m. PT) Game 4^ – Wednesday, May 17: Winnipeg at Seattle (7:05 p.m. PT) Game 5*^ – Friday, May 19: Winnipeg at Seattle (7:05 p.m. PT) Game 6*^ – Sunday, May 21: Seattle at Winnipeg (5:00 p.m. PT) Game 7*^ – Monday, May 22: Seattle at Winnipeg (3:00 p.m. PT) * = If necessary ^ = TSN National Broadcast
Blades move goalie to Silvertips . . . Oil Kings add two 2003-born skaters . . . WHL final on tap tonight in Winnipeg https://t.co/wLeEmnwJGV
— Gregg Drinnan (@gdrinnan) May 12, 2023
FROM THE QUOTE RACK:
Nothing is certain but death, taxes, and the Toronto Maple Leafs breaking their fans’ hearts in the playoffs.
*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com
A report says that Saturn’s rings are disappearing. So are the Golden State Warriors.
*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California
A Manitoba Zamboni driver was once arrested during a game for, of all things, impaired driving. There’s a guy who shouldn’t have his drinks on ice.
*Western Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie
Hartley Miller is the news and sports supervisor plus morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97fm. He has completed his 10th season as the radio colour commentator on the home games for the Prince George Cougars. Hartley has been on the airwaves in PG since 1979 and is the author of You Don’t Say (sports quotes).