Reading through some of the media articles about the Spruce Kings and their final weekend of regular season play has left me confused as to what it will take for the team to squeak into the playoffs. The word squeak might not be fitting because it will take a monumental effort from the Spruce Kings this weekend and a lot of help from three divisional opponents to pull off.
One of the most over used cliches I hear from coaches during my pre-game interviews with them is that they can "only play their game" and they "can't control what other teams do." Looking at that cliche from a post game perspective it becomes readily apparent that the Spruce Kings must look at themselves for the situation they find themselves in.
At the same token they have been able to stay on par with the team they continue to try and catch to claim the last playoff spot in the BCHL Interior Division. After Thursday night's 4-2 win over the Merritt Centennials, the Spruce Kings find themselves three points back of the Quesnel Millionaires. The Mills have three games remaining while the Spruce Kings are down to a pair against the Penticton Vees and the Westside Warriors.
The Spruce Kings magic number right now is 9 ... a total of 9 points either lost by the Quesnel Millionaires or gained by the Spruce Kings. With only two games remaining the Spruce Kings can only control four of those points with wins on Friday and Saturday night. The other points have to come from the Millionaires failing to earn them.
What that means is that as it stands right now in its simplest terms is that the Spruce Kings need a minimum of three points - a win (either in overtime or regulation time) and an overtime decision being either a win, loss or tie. Coupled with that is a requirement of zero points from their rivals who have games against the Westside Warriors, Penticton Vees and Vernon Vipers this weekend. A single point by the Quesnel Millionaires means the Spruce Kings will have to pick up two wins.
Where things start getting tense for the Spruce Kings is if the Millionaires pick up more than a single point. Right now three points puts the Spruce Kings in a tie with Quesnel resulting in a tie breaker to decide the final playoff spot. The first tie breaker in the BCHL is the number of wins - currently the Spruce Kings and Millionaires are tied with 13 of those. If the Spruce Kings get their three points they will obviously have 14 wins which means they would win the tie breaker for the final playoff spot.
Does that make it any clearer? Probably not but the players aren't worrying about it, they are just going out there and playing some of their best hockey of the season ... and that is something that seems to be missing in all of the media reports lately. That will be the subject matter for a latter blog ... for now lets just enjoy this roller coaster ride of emotional highs and lows and see how it all plays out.