WHL Power Rankings – Week 22: Top Teams Extending Lead
This week was no different than previous weeks. The two best teams showed everyone why there is little to no chance of anyone else competing for a title. The Rockets and Wheat Kings are just a step faster than any other team right now. That being said, it will be interesting to see if any of the close followers will step it up a notch in the last month of the season.
The Winterhawks were not able to gain any ground last week on the division lead and are going to need to start stringing wins together in a hurry. They are currently seven points back with 16 games to go. Unfortunately only one of those games is against the Silvertips. I think they need to win at least 12 of those games to have a chance at the division title.
Rookie Adin Hill is still the top goalie in the league according to save percentage and has had great success in OT and shootout losses. When every point is going to matter these last 16 games, shootout wins will be huge. I think he deserves to be in the discussion for goaltender of the year, though he has not played enough games be a legitimate candidate.
This week, the Winterhawks have an extremely favorable schedule with four straight games against teams ranked between 15-22. So lets say they win all four of those, that sets up an epic matchup next Wednesday against the Hitmen which could very well mean a lot to both teams.
Checkout where the Winterhawks fell in Week 22’s WHL Power Rankings:
[table colwidth=”8%|18%|8%|8%|8%|50%” colalign=”center|center|center|center|center|left” rowlalign=”center”]
1,,43-9-6,—,1,”Brandon Wheat Kings~~Well the Wheat Kings are clearly on a mission. They have now gone sixteen straight games without a regulation loss. They are 25 points ahead of the second place team in their division.”
2,,44-9-4,—,2,”Kelowna Rockets~~The only team that can compete with the Wheat Kings is the Rockets. This team is extremely talented and clearly the best team in the Western Conference. Too bad these teams won’t meet until the finals. ”
3,,34-18-5,—,3,”Calgary Hitmen~~Calgary continues to remain in good form. With only one loss in the last ten games, they have firmly cemented themselves as a team to be scared of. They are the first in line should the Rockets slip up in the Western Conference.”
4,,33-20-4,[icon name=icon-arrow-up] +1,5,”Portland Winterhawks~~The Winterhawks didn’t do much to impress me last week but were able to claim three out of four points. They need to go on a mini winning streak if they want to win the division title. ”
5,,37-19-3,[icon name=icon-arrow-down] -1,4,”Medicine Hat Tigers~~The Tigers are one of the better teams in the league even after this little ten game slump they are in. Only three wins in those ten games hasn’t affected their spot in the standings, as they are still almost a lock to win the Central Division.”
6,,32-22-4,[icon name=icon-arrow-up] +1,7,”Victoria Royals~~The Royals continue to play good hockey. Having only lost twice in the last ten games, the Royals have now caught the Winterhawks for third in the west.”
7,,35-16-6,[icon name=icon-arrow-down] -1,6,”Everett Silvertips~~Everett has been playing just well enough to keep a comfortable lead in the U.S. Division. They are exactly lighting things up but keep scraping points together to maintain an eight-point lead. ”
8,,29-21-7,[icon name=icon-arrow-up] +2,10,”Seattle Thunderbirds~~Seattle hasn’t exactly been playing great hockey but is managing to collect points regularly. Even though they have trouble stringing multiple wins together, they are only three points behind Portland and Victoria for the third spot in the west. ”
9,,30-19-7,[icon name=icon-arrow-down] -1,8,”Regina Pats~~The Pats have lost three straight games, granted two of those were against teams in the top 5. This team has some time to right the ship though as they are going to make the playoffs. ”
10,,29-18-9,[icon name=icon-arrow-down] -1,9,”Red Deer Rebels~~Yes the Rebels are firmly planted inside the playoff picture, but losers of four straight could mean a wildcard spot. With five straight road games upcoming, Red Deer fans have a legitimate reason to be nervous. ”
11,,27-25-4,—,11,”Spokane Chiefs~~The Chiefs are fortunate to still be in the position they are in. Even though they cannot string wins together, all the teams behind them can’t either. This means they continue to hold a comfortable lead for the final two wildcards spots. ”
12,,26-26-6,—,12,”Edmonton Oil Kings~~The Oil Kings have been around .500 for several weeks now. They just can’t seem to find the consistency they have had in years past. A ten-point lead for the final wildcard spot is keeping Oil King fans hopes up right now.”
13,,27-25-5,—,13,”Swift Current Broncos~~The Broncos are starting to play a tad better as of late. They have climbed into the third spot in the East Division and seem to be heading in the right direction. ”
14,,29-27-2,—,14,”Kootenay Ice~~Surprisingly after the poor start they had to start the year, the Ice solidify their playoff chances each week they go .500. All it takes for them to make the playoffs is matching every loss with a win, and they are doing that right now. ”
15,,25-30-3,[icon name=icon-arrow-up] +3,18,”Vancouver Giants~~If you are looking at the standings as you read this, you will also be shocked to see that the Giants are currently in the playoffs. At one time I had them dead last on these rankings. We can either blame that on my poor judgment, or the weakness of the B.C. Division. I’ll go with the latter over the former. ”
16,,22-30-6,[icon name=icon-arrow-down] -1,15,”Kamloops Blazers~~The Blazers are still clinging to playoff hopes. Going 4-6 over the last ten is not going to cut it though. I still think they squeeze in, as they are better than the two other teams they are competing with. ”
17,,26-29-3,[icon name=icon-arrow-down] -1,16,”Tri-City Americans~~The Americans are holding on for dear life. They only have won three of the last ten and are barely inside the wildcard line at the moment. They do have four games against the team directly beside them in the standing. ”
18,,23-32-3,[icon name=icon-arrow-down] -1,17,”Prince Albert Raiders~~Unless the Raiders can somehow win 80% of their remaining games, this team is planning for next year. They just haven’t been consistent enough to deserve a playoff spot. ”
19,,23-30-5,[icon name=icon-arrow-down] -1,18,”Moose Jaw Warriors~~Please see what the Raiders have to do. That’s also what the Warriors need to do if they want any shot at postseason play. ”
20,,18-33-6,[icon name=icon-arrow-up] +1,21,”Lethbridge Hurricanes~~Even though this team is streaking as of late, they are still 14 games below .500. Their playoff hopes were gone a long time ago. ”
21,,23-33-4,[icon name=icon-arrow-down] -1,20,”Prince George Cougars~~How is a team this bad still in the playoff hunt? Need I say more? ”
22,,17-36-3,[icon name=icon-arrow-down] -2,20,”Saskatoon Blades~~The Blades are now 55 points behind first place in the Eastern Conference. Just think, 55 points right now in the season wouldn’t even get you in the playoffs.”