It has begun to look as if there will be a dearth of playoff games of interest around here, other than in the KIJHL, when the regular season in various leagues wind down.
Not a single Canadian NHL team seems inclined to push its way into the post season picture. It is so bad on that front that the Montreal Canadiens, who have sucked for six weeks and now sit three points out of a wild card berth, are still the best performing of the seven teams based in Canada. The Canucks, also out of the playoffs right now even though they play in the weaker of the two conferences in the NHL, sit second in the, “national,” standings.
The Cranbrook-based, for now, Kootenay Ice are last overall in the WHL and miles out of a playoff spot in major junior.
The Smoke Eaters, still on a long mostly downward slide and facing a tough remaining schedule, seem at best unlikely to be able to live up to the promise their play in December merited, even though that schedule is home-heavy.
So, the Nitehawks, Rebels, Border Bruins and Leafs are what will be on offer, playoff-wise, for this area’s hockey fans.
In the other leagues, of course, there is still a lot of hockey left to play, but it does not look promising on the potential post-season front. At least there may still be some standings movement.
In the KIJHL, in contrast, all but two of the 16 available post season spots are taken and the remaining will be confirmed very soon. Fans of junior B, then, can confidently schedule post season spectatorship.
It is unfortunate, and highly frustrating for Smoke Eater fans in particular, but that is the way it seems to be. Still time (seven home games left for Trail) to enjoy the Orange and Black as the season fades – Smokie home games have been almost universally exciting and entertaining of late – but the battle now seems to be to not finish last in the division.
The other option, of course, is to take in KIJHL action – the Nitehawks have always deserved more support than they receive in the regular season – and familiarize yourself with the teams and environs where playoff action is guaranteed and will begin fairly soon.