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Yes, the Prince George Cougars can still make the playoffs! Here’s how

Cats are within reach of Seattle, may need some help from lady luck

The Prince George Cougars are on a roll right now in the final fight for a spot in the 2020 Western Hockey League (WHL) playoffs.

They swept the Vancouver Giants on home ice this past weekend, including an overtime thriller on Saturday (March 7), to extend their win streak to three games, helping their case in the western conference standings, mathematically speaking, in chasing Seattle for that final and all-important postseason ticket.

The Thunderbirds went 1-2 on the weekend; a 6-0 loss in Kelowna, a 5-2 victory in Everett and a 3-2 loss on home ice against the Silvertips.

As of yesterday (March 8), the Cougars have 48 points with six games left, while the T-Birds have 55 points with five games left.

So, despite Seattle maintaining a seven-point lead on Prince George in the standings, how can the Cougars still clinch a playoff berth for a first time in three years?

Assuming that no significant injuries take place and everyone on the team is at the top of their game, here are the top four options:

DREAM SCENARIO

In a perfect world, the Cats would win out the remainder of their season and the Thunderbirds lose all five of their final matches in regulation.

If this pans out, the final 2019-20 season records would be...

  • PG = 26-34-4-4 (60 points)
  • SEA = 24-37-4-3 (55 points)

Cougars in, T-Birds out!

FOUR FOR THE SCORE

Four is the absolute minimum number of games Prince George must win to surpass Seattle in the standings.

If the Cougars were successful, again, they’d have to cross fingers and hope Seattle loses out in regulation play.

If this pans out, the final 2019-20 season records would be...

  • PG = 24-34-4-4 (56 points)
  • SEA = 24-37-4-3 (55 points)

Cougars in, T-Birds out!

DRIVE FOR FIVE

If the Cougars won five of their final six games, they have to hope Seattle doesn’t win more than one game or go into overtime in their last five.

If the scenario pans out, the final 2019-20 season records would be...

  • PG = 25-34-4-4 (58 points)
  • SEA = 25-36-4-3 (57 points)

Cougars in, T-Birds out!

TIEBREAKER

The hockey gods love playing practical jokes and could force a 69th game for Prince George and Seattle to decide who goes to the playoffs.

There are too many scenarios to list in order for a tiebreaker to be possible, but just know that anything can happen in the WHL and that this one is on the table.

Last year, Kamloops and Kelowna needed a tiebreaker to decide who’d earn third place in the B.C. Division and compete in the postseason.

 

A friendly reminder to fans that wins are worth two points each and a team gets one point in either an overtime or shootout loss.

These are the best-case situations for the Prince George Cougars, but regardless, if they want a shot at playing beyond their last game of 2019-20 on March 21, they have to win at least four games and wait on Seattle’s pace of play.

If the Thunderbirds can withhold from winning two of their final five tilts, then the Cats can keep that glimmer of hope.

So sprinkle some fairy dust, throw salt over your shoulder, spin three times and pray to the hockey gods for something to happen because Prince George is still in the hunt.

They begin that quest with a three-game-in-three-day weekend Friday (March 13), Saturday (March 14) and Sunday (March 15) in Victoria and Vancouver.