The 25-point discrepancy in the standings and 13 more wins during the regular season matters not at this point.
Nor does the 6-2 win-loss record in head-to-head competition this B.C. Hockey League season.
These are now the playoffs and numbers revert back to zero.
And the way the 33-13-0-10 Victoria Grizzlies finished off the 2012-13 campaign — on a six-game winless skid — throws the matchup with the Powell River Kings totally up into the air when the best-of-five series begins tonight at 7:15 at Bear Mountain Arena.
Not that the 20-25-2-9 Kings have lit the house on fire of late, winning one of their last six.
“You can’t place any stock into your record, for or against, for the playoffs,” said Grizzlies general manager and head coach Bill Bestwick. “So many things have changed. The health of your roster, injuries . . .
“Some teams come in hotter, some colder, you just never know at playoff time and we all start on a level playing field.”
Victoria claimed six of eight meetings from Powell River this season, out-scoring them 31-24 in the matchups. The teams met four straight times during a stretch in late January to early February, and the Grizzlies won three and lost the other in overtime. Victoria was 4-0 at home to the Kings and 2-2 away.
“We haven’t played together as a playoff team,” stressed Bestwick. “The organization didn’t play in the playoffs last season. We’ll see if we can match up to the playoff intensity, the playoff pressure.
“There are a lot of factors, like which players that contribute to our record, whether we’ll have them all going. That will be a major challenge for us in the first round.”
The Grizzlies will be without No. 1 centre Gerry Fitzgerald for the remainder of the year, but are hoping to have D.J. Jones, Leo Fitzgerald, Pearce Eviston and Stefan Nicholishen back, which will make a difference for the struggling club. They will also likely add affiliated player Cole Pickup for the post-season. Pickup just finished his season with the major midget Royals.
Gone are Blake Thompson, Jaden Schmeisser and Turner Lawson, due to suspension.
Myles Fitzgerald led the team offensively with 30 goals and 41 assists ahead of Leo’s 26 goals and 24 assists. Jones led the scoring among defencemen with four goals and 29 helpers.
Former Grizzly Evan Richardson led the Kings with 16 goals and 31 assists.
“Kent Lewis will have his boys primed to get to Victoria and steal a game,” said Bestwick. “They know they haven’t had a season they were hopeful of and they can make up for a lot of things in playoff rounds and anything can happen.
“I expect it to be a very close series,” Bestwick said.
Offence — The Grizzlies scored 29 more goals than the Kings this season so that edge should go to Victoria. They will require some secondary scoring to win the series, however.
Defence — Victoria allowed 21 fewer goals over the 56 total games so that, too, is a plus for the Grizz, but without Jones they are a different club.
Goaltending — Victoria’s Brady Rouleau and Mike Stiliadis finished 11th and 18th respectively in league stats, but have struggled of late. Will they come around? Jonah Imoo was 22nd for Powell River, but he had a league-leading five shutouts, three more than Stiliadis. Rouleau had none. Call this even.
Special teams — The Grizzlies led the BCHL on the power play, although it has been affected by the loss of Gerry Fitzgerald and Jones. The Kings were sixth overall. Both penalty kills have been anemic with Victoria allowing five PP goals against in its last game alone. Again, even.
Intangibles — Discipline will be key and the Grizz haven’t shown a lot of it of late. Advantage Kings.
OTHER ISLAND SERIES
ALBERNI (29-20-2-5) AT NANAIMO (32-20-0-4)
Game 1: Tonight, 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena
Alberni won series 6-2
Alberni — Evan Tironese 57 points; Ryan Lough 55
Nanaimo — Greg Fraser 59; Kyle Kramer & Reid Sturos 57
Alberni, 202; Nanaimo, 182
Alberni, 192; Nanaimo, 167
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