From Where I Sit...The Playoff Chase
Although we're only a few days past the ASG and in mid-season, the playoff chase is heating up with every game and all the teams and coaches know it and feel it.
The league is more competitive than ever. Every team in the league has at least 12 wins and there are no patsies if you are not ready. Every point is critical and in the end, a bounce here or mistake there may make the difference. There is no dominant team and all have their warts and shortcomings. The clubs that improve the most from here on out will make it.
Why is the post-season extra important this year? Yes, every player and coach wants a shot at a title, but the new CHL playoff format (only 4 of 7 qualifying from each Conference) makes it financially vital for each organization to “make it to the dance.” The prize is postseason revenue. This year, each round will guarantee a club from two to four extra home games, depending your seeding and how you play. Every playoff round is best of seven (the way it should be).
In both conferences it appears the fight for the playoffs will be five for four spots affairs. In the Turner, it appears that Fort Wayne, Quad City, Evansville, Missouri and Rapid City will duke it out with Dayton and Bloomington spectators. In the Berry, it will be a dogfight between Wichita, Allen, Texas, Tulsa and Rio Grande Valley with Arizona and Laredo as also rans.
The tussles could very well go down the the final week of the season. It will be exciting to watch especially if the Brahmas make it for the fifth straight season. I hope we have fingernails left for April hockey in NRH.
What I see now is each coach in the CHL massaging his roster...trying to get players back from IR, looking for that “difference maker”…a needed knuckdragger, a backup goalie, an extra scorer. In a few weeks the February 6 (trade) and February 13 (European signing) deadlines will be upon us. After that you go with what you’ve got and hope it works out.