Based on talent, many teams exceed realistic expectations and just as many fall short.

Here’s my look at a dozen teams (Prince George and Cariboo Cougars, Prince George Spruce Kings, the seven Canadian NHL clubs, plus the two UNBC basketball squads) and which category, above or below, they fall into as the December schedule is about to begin.

PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS:

They are 9-13-2-2, last in the WHL Western Conference.

It was predictable the Cougars would fall from their 2016-17 first place standing in the BC Division since they have gone from a veteran team to a much younger one, with nine skaters and two goalies 17 years old and younger.

The inexperience has shown in a few games where they allowed a goal late in the third period that cost them at least one point.

The Cougars have scored the fewest goals in the Western Conference (along with Everett) and ended November on a four-game losing skid.

The goal remains to make the playoffs but at the moment are three points from a wild card spot.

***BELOW EXPECTATIONS

 

PRINCE GEORGE SPRUCE KINGS:

They are 14-10-2-3, second in Mainland Division, a point ahead of Surrey and Chilliwack.

The Spruce Kings have been superb at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena (RMCA) with a 10-2-1-1 home record.

Considering a significant roster and coaching turnover from last season where they finished with a losing record (25-27-4-2), the Spruce Kings appear headed upwards.

***ABOVE EXPECTATIONS

 

CARIBOO COUGARS:

They are 14-3-1 and have won 13 of their last 14 games to sit second in the BCMML only behind the 15-2-1 Valley West Hawks.

Yes, they are the defending provincial champions, but there was concern with a new coaching staff and a roster mostly filled with new players, that the Major Midget Cougars might slip a bit, especially starting with one victory in their first four games.

***ABOVE EXPECTATIONS

 

VANCOUVER CANUCKS:

They are 12-10-4, including 9-5-1 on the road after the 5-3 victory in Nashville.

The Canucks are tied in points for a wild card playoff spot.

Head Coach Travis Green has done a good job with a team that was predicted to be at or near the bottom.

20-year-old Brock Boeser leads all rookies in scoring with 25 points in 23 games.

***ABOVE EXPECTATIONS

 

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS:

They are 17-9-1 to sit as the top Canadian team and tied with St. Louis for the second most points in the NHL, one behind Tampa Bay.

The Leafs are the highest scoring team with 98 goals in 27 games.

I am still not convinced they are built for playoff success but through the first third (1/3) of their schedule they have given their starving fans some hope.

***ABOVE EXPECTATIONS

 

WINNIPEG JETS:

They are 15-6-4 to sit second in both the Central Division and Western Conference, just a point back of St. Louis.

The Jets, who have just one playoff appearance in the last six seasons (2014-15), are arguably the most improved team in the NHL.

***ABOVE EXPECTATIONS

 

CALGARY FLAMES:

They are 14-10-1 and sitting in a playoff spot but haven’t taken that next step forward.

They are minus three in goal differential (73GF, 76GA) and just 7-6 on home ice.

***BELOW EXPECTATIONS

 

OTTAWA SENATORS:

They are 8-9-6 and not resembling anything like the team that was a win shy of reaching the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.

The Senators are riding a seven-game losing streak.

***BELOW EXPECTATIONS

 

MONTREAL CANADIENS:

They are 12-12-3 and rely far too heavily on their best player Carey Price who struggled out of the gate.

Since returning from injury Price is 4-0 stopping 128 of 133 shots.

The Canadiens are minus-17 in goal differential (68GF, 85GA).

***BELOW EXPECTATIONS

 

EDMONTON OILERS:

They are 10-14-2, second worst record in the Western Conference, ahead of only lowly Arizona.

The Oilers are arguably the biggest underachievers in the NHL.

***BELOW EXPECTATIONS

 

UNBC TIMBERWOLVES MEN’S BASKETBALL:

They are 4-6 at the half-way mark of the Canada West regular season schedule, matching their win total from the 2016-17 season.

The UNBC men are shooting for a playoff spot and hold down 10th out of 17 where the top 12 advance.

***ABOVE EXPECTATIONS

 

UNBC TIMBERWOLVES WOMEN’S BASKETBALL:

They are 3-7, including a win over Regina, who was the top-ranked team in the country at the time.

The Lady Timberwolves have lost all four of their road games and are not in a playoff spot sitting 14th.

***BELOW EXPECTATIONS

 

IN SUMMARY …

Of the 12 aforementioned teams, I have half exceeding where they should be and the other six not holding their own.

On October 16th, 2006 then Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green’s went on a profanity-laced rant after his team lost to Chicago, highlighted by the quote “The Bears are who we thought they were.”

The next few months will tell which teams turn out to be who we thought they were.

 

FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

President Trump tweeted that NFL stadiums are having a very hard time filling up due to recent national anthem protests. “Yes, that’s why,” said the Cleveland Browns.

*Seth Meyers of Late Night

 

The Atlanta Falcons demolished the Georgia Dome so there will be no trace of where they played. “Wait. You can do that?” Asked Cleveland Browns fans.

*Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg http://thordoggie.blogspot.ca/

 

Congratulations to the Toronto Argonauts, winners of the Grey Cup. Few sports fans think the Argos could actually compete with NFL teams, though they might be two touchdown favorites against the Cleveland Browns.

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

 

The New York Giants announced that they are benching Eli Manning this weekend. Eli’s not sure what’s worse – not getting to play for the Giants, or having to WATCH the Giants.

*Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon

 

Did anyone notice that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones sent someone from his private box at halftime of the LA Chargers American Thanksgiving game to see if Ezekiel Elliott was hiding in the Salvation Army kettle?”

*Comedy writer TC Chong of Vancouver

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

A west coast dog walker with pooches in tow was found alive after spending three days lost in BC’s wilderness. It’s given her a new leash on life.

*Comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

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Hartley Miller is the sports director and morning news anchor for 94.3 the Goat.
He also is the 94.3 radio color 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
Follow him on twitter: @Hartley_Miller