Last year at this time I started doing a weekly "Pace to the Playoffs". Basically I calculate how many points each team will earn by season's end based on their current point accumulation pace. For instance. Seattle currently has earned 40 points in 55 games. So, you divide 40 by 55 to get the T-birds current "points earned per game" which is .727. When you multiply .727 by 72 (the number of games in the regular season), you get 52.36. So the T-birds are on pace to earn 52.36 points this season. Now, you can't factor in strength of schedule into this rudimentary formula which is why you update it every week. Also we know no team will end up with a fraction of a point but that will all get rounded out in the end, after all games are played.
There are really two playoff spots up for grabs in the Western Conference heading into the final month of play so I'm going to concentrate on the four teams battling for those last two spots. As of today, February 13th, here is the current "Pace to the Playoffs" standings The number in parenthesis is the number of games remaining on that team's schedule:
7. Seattle 52.36 (17)
8. Victoria 51.42 (16)
9. Everett 50.14 (16)
10. Prince George 48.00 (18)
As you can see it is going to be a a tight fight to the finish. Head-to-head games become huge. Seattle has six games left against these teams, four against Everett (3 @home) and two at Prince George.
Everett also has six games against the other three teams, the four versus the T-birds and two home games against Victoria.
Victoria has six games against these the other three teams as well. In addition to the two in Everett, the Royals host Prince George twice and have two games up in P.G.
Prince George, of course, has six games remaining against these teams as well. The four versus Victoria and the two at home against Seattle.
Who has the tougher schedule outside of those games? Well, I'd say Seattle and Everett's remaining schedules are pretty similar. They both play Portland and Tri-City a combined seven times. Both play Kelowna once more. The Silvertips do have one game left against both Kamloops and Vancouver while Seattle has three against Spokane.
The Royals have Spokane and Portland twice at home, three games versus Vancouver (2 @ home) and single games left versus Calgary, Kelowna and at Kamloops.
Prince George's remaining schedule includes hosting Red Deer, traveling to Portland for a pair of games, home for two games each against both Spokane and Medicine Hat, a home and home against Kamloops, two games in at Tri-City and single game in Kelowna.
So, I'd rank remaining strength of schedule as follows (hardest to easiest):
1. Prince George
***UPDATE*** after Tuesday night's SO win over Kelowna, the T-birds are now on pace to earn 54 pts this season