Dying Hard: NHL Reverse Standings Update — Substitute Teacher Edition

Mar 27, 2023 - 6:12 PM
This poor man would rather crawl through an air conditioning duct than invite James Reimer to his birthday party.

The good news about being one of the worst teams in the NHL this year is you get your shot at picking near the top of an incredibly loaded draft where players like Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli, Matvei Michkov and Leo Carlsson could help change the fortune of your entire franchise in an instant.

Going into this season, the plan was for the Chicago Blackhawks to be one of the worst teams in the league. Let’s check in on the teams that make up the bottom five and hope to get their shot at drafting Connor Bedard this summer.

Also, Eric’s on vacation this week, so we have a substitute teacher:

(Or it’s just Dave.)

Montreal Canadiens

  • Current Record: 29-38-6, 64 points
  • Last 10 games: 3-5-2
  • Odds at winning the draft lottery: 8.5%

The Canadiens opened last week with a win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, lost to the Boston Bruins — because everyone else is doing that this season — and then unloaded a season’s worth of frustrations in an 8-2 thumping of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.

Seems to be some Montreal people are getting all puffy-chested about Kirby Dach’s first season with the Canadiens, as he’s up to 38 points (14 G, 24 A) in 57 games. Those numbers certainly aren’t bad, but 16 (6 G, 10 A) of those 38 points (42 percent!) have come on the Montreal power play and he’s not exactly setting the world on fire at 5-on-5. According to Natural Stat Trick’s data, Dach is producing at a rate of 1.37 points per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. Among players who’ve skated at least 250 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time, Dach is ranked ... THREE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-EIGHTH, just ahead of Boris Katchouk (ranked No. 333 at 1.35) and Sam Lafferty (No. 335, 1.34).

Dach’s been on a bit of a power-play heater this season, which is fine and good for him. But it still seems like the Hawks could end up on the winning side of this trade if Frank Nazar ends up as the player we all hope he can become.

Upcoming Schedule

Montreal starts off on the road on Monday night in Buffalo, plays Tuesday in Philly, returns home on Thursday to host the Panthers and caps the week in Carolina on Saturday.

Anaheim Ducks

  • Current Record: 23-40-10, 56 points
  • Last 10 games: 2-6-2
  • Odds at winning the draft lottery: 9.5%

The Ducks lost all four games last week, sliding back down into this race after winning four of five to jump out of the league basement. Anaheim’s recent defeats had some lopsided scores, too: 5-1 to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday and 6-3 to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. The goal differential now stands at a downright comical minus-108, which is not believed to be a tribute to the best section inside Comiskey Park to watch Chicago White Sox games — but it could be!

Upcoming Schedule

Anaheim is at home against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night and then heads north for a trio of road games: Thursday in Seattle, Saturday in Edmonton and Sunday in Calgary.

Chicago Blackhawks

  • Current Record: 24-43-6, 54 points
  • Last 10 games: 2-7-1
  • Odds at winning the draft lottery: 11.5%

The Blackhawks lost all four games in the last week and are now on a five-game skid. Everything is just as bad off the ice, too. The only redeeming quality about the on-ice product is that Lukas Reichel continues to look quite impressive for someone who still cannot legally buy a drink in the US. In other bad news, the only other European youngster on the team worth watching — Philipp Kurashev — was seen wearing a sling over the weekend, so his status for the final stretch of the season remains questionable.

Oh, and The Captain might be inching closer to what seems like it’d be the swan song of his time in Chicago, a sentence that brings precisely zero joy to type.

Upcoming Schedule

It’s all home cooking this week after a lengthy road trip: Tuesday vs. the Stars, Thursday against the Blues and Saturday against the Devils.

Columbus Blue Jackets

  • Current Record: 23-42-7, 53 points
  • Last 10 games: 2-6-2
  • Odds at winning the draft lottery: 13.5%

Straight to the main attraction:

Incredibly smooth work by Johnson, who did not appear to break stride at any point while pulling off a move mid-game that should not look anywhere near as easy as Johnson made it look there.

And now for the bad news!

Columbus still managed a pair of OT wins in the last week, beating the Capitals 5-4 on Tuesday and the New York Islanders 5-4 on Friday. But it all came crashing down to the tune of that 8-2 drubbing by Montreal on Saturday night.

Upcoming Schedule

The Blue Jackets remain out east, facing the playoff-bound Rangers on Tuesday and then the juggernaut Bruins on Thursday. Then it’s back home to host a Panthers team on Saturday that’s desperately hanging in the wild card chase. It’s real tough to find any points for the Blue Jackets on the schedule this week.

San Jose Sharks

  • Current Record: 19-39-15, 53 points
  • Last 10 games: 1-7-2
  • Odds at winning the draft lottery: 25.5%

San Jose’s free fall without a parachute continued with losses in the last week to the Oilers, Canucks and Flames — although San Jose did grab a point by forcing OT against Edmonton. San Jose has just one regulation win — a 4-0 win over the Kraken on Feb. 20 — in the last 19 games. Since Feb. 12, the Sharks record is an astonishingly bad 2-13-4.

Remember when the Hawks lost 21 of 23 in November and December? They came up for air at the end of it and won six of seven. That’s about the only hope remaining from a Chicago perspective, that San Jose finds the bottom of this plummet soon and kicks back up for some wins before the season ends.

But it’s probably not wise to hold your breath in anticipation of it.

Upcoming Schedule

San Jose hosts Winnipeg on Tuesday and Vegas on Thursday before heading to the desert to face the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night. That game against the Coyotes is probably the most winnable one — on paper, at least — remaining on the schedule.

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