Dying Hard: NHL Reverse Standings Update — Old Man Yells at Cloud Edition

Checking in on the worst of the worst.

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.

Montreal Canadiens

  • Current Record: 27-37-6, 60 points
  • Last 10 games: 1-7-2
  • Odds at winning the draft lottery: 8.5%/

Montreal went 1-3 this past week, losing a few wild ones to Colorado and Florida (more on that game in a minute), beating the Penguins, then losing a regular one to Tampa Bay.

Not too often you catch a game where there are 10 goals scored in one period — last time it happened was 1987 — but such was the case during last Thursday’s game between the Canadiens and the Panthers. Montreal scored the opening goal 16 seconds into the first period then it all took off from there.

The Canadiens scored on their first three shots against Florida goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky but, by the time the period was over, the Panthers had roared back and were up 7-3 (they would ultimately add two more and win by a 9-3 final) — with nine different players all scoring a goal in the period.

Montreal losing to Florida in any fashion, let alone that one, stings a bit more this season as the Canadiens own the Panthers first round pick this year (unprotected) as a result of the Ben Chiarot trade last season. Florida is currently three points out of a playoff spot in the East and if they aren’t able to work their way back in, then Montreal would end up with two lottery picks in this year’s draft.

Upcoming Schedule

The Canadiens have four games this week: versus Tampa in Montreal, then at Boston, Columbus back at home, then they’ll finish out the week in Buffalo against the Sabres.

Anaheim Ducks

  • Current Record: 23-37-10, 56 points
  • Last 10 games: 4-3-3
  • Odds at winning the draft lottery: 9.5%/

The Ducks went 1-2 last week with all three games played in Anaheim. They lost to the Islanders, beat up on the Blue Jackets, then fell to the Canucks by one goal on Sunday night.

Is that good? That doesn’t seem like it’s good ...

The Ducks have done it. Their goal differential is triple digits. They’re currently at minus-100.

If you’re going to be bad at least you could be fun, and I don’t know if it gets any more fun than Trevor Zegras.

Upcoming Schedule

Anaheim has four games this week, all at home, which will conclude their current eight-game homestand. They’ll welcome in Calgary, Winnipeg, St. Louis and Colorado.

Chicago Blackhawks

  • Current Record: 24-39-6, 54 points
  • Last 10 games: 3-6-1
  • Odds at winning the draft lottery: 11.5%/

The Blackhawks went 2-1 this past week, picking up dumb, stupid, sucky wins against the best team in the NHL and the Nashville Predators before getting back on the proverbial losing track against the Coyotes on Saturday night.

So 49.4 percent of the people who took that survey are categorically insane (slight apologies to Mr. Pope for institutionalizing him).

There’s a sentiment building within the Blackhawks’ community that there’s a victory being earned in the fact that this roster is playing hard for Coach Luke Richardson. That it’s a positive that they’re hanging around in most games and beating teams like Boston and Ottawa and Nashville. That all of that is a precursor to his future success behind the bench and a clear indicator as to what type of coach he’ll be once he gets a roster full of skilled players. And that somehow all of that is more valuable to the future of the franchise than securing the worst overall seed or slightly increasing their odds to draft Connor Bedard.

That is absolute bullshit.

No one has any idea who will be the head coach when the Blackhawks are contenders again, so the only thing that matters is building a team that’s good enough to get back to the playoffs, and preferably as soon as possible.

The Blackhawks have been a bad hockey team since the 2017-18 season. They currently have no significant NHL contributors to show for any of those seasons (jury is still out on Lukas Reichel, obviously). They had what appears to be a good draft last summer that added a lot of skilled prospects to their prospect pool, but none of that matters currently because none of those players are here.

The only point of this season was to lose, and lose as much as possible. Not just to increase the odds of drafting Connor Bedard (who, by the way, is having a better draft-year season than Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid and Patrick Kane) but to ensure that the team ended up drafting no lower than fourth so they were guaranteed one of Bedard, Matvei Michkov, Adam Fantilli or Leo Carlsson.

Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane played for five different coaches during their time together on the Blackhawks. Sidney Crosby has had five coaches as well. Alex Ovechkin has played for seven.

How many can you name?

Upcoming Schedule

The Hawks have four games this week: they’ll be on the road against Colorado, Washington and Minnesota before coming back to Chicago to take on the Canucks next Sunday.

San Jose Sharks

  • Current Record: 19-37-14, 52 points
  • Last 10 games: 1-7-2
  • Odds at winning the draft lottery: 13.5%/

San Jose’s brutal stretch continues as they lost all three games last week. Columbus and Seattle both beat them in overtime and the Islanders took care of business in regulation.

Even though the Sharks are in the midst of a massive free fall (2-11-4 in their last 17 games) they’re the winners of the week as far as I’m concerned.

San Jose had their Pride Night last Saturday and at some point one of their players decided he didn’t want to participate in wearing a Pride-themed warmup jersey on the ice during the pre-game skate. It’s a situation we’ve seen play out a few times already this season — with teams like the New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild deciding to forego wearing Pride-themed jerseys entirely in order not to ostracize any player(s) who decided not to participate.

The Sharks took a different approach.

James Reimer decided that hockey isn’t for everyone as far as he’s concerned, and San Jose made him own that.

Hell yeah to the Sharks for wearing their Pride jerseys anyway and choosing to show their support for inclusivity and the queer community.

And hell yeah to Sharks captain Logan Couture for saying the following:

“Every individual has a choice and he made his,” Couture, the Sharks captain, said in the wake of Reimer’s decision. “The rest of us are going to be wearing the jersey. I think this organization sees this as an extremely important night. And I think a lot of guys are very excited to go out and wear the jersey and celebrate it. I think hockey really is for everyone.”

As for Reimer...

Upcoming Schedule

The Sharks have a three-game Western Canada swing this week: they’ll be at Edmonton, at Vancouver, then they’ll finish up in Calgary.

Columbus Blue Jackets

  • Current Record: 21-41-7, 49 points
  • Last 10 games: 2-6-2
  • Odds at winning the draft lottery: 25.5%/

Columbus went 1-3 this past week. They beat the Sharks in overtime, lost to the Kings, then gave up a touchdown (with the PAT!) in each game of back-to-back losses to the Ducks and the Golden Knights.

Yes, things have been catastrophically bad for the Blue Jackets this season but at least they can’t get much worse, right? RIGHT?!?

Laine has been a winger for the entirety of his 460-game NHL career but, for some reason, he’s now going to center Columbus’ top line — quite possibly for the remainder of the season. Okay. I see you, Columbus (Kyle: Tinordi to 1C. Who says no?).

Strange But True: In the last month the Blue Jackets’ power play has been on insane stretch, converting at a 32.3 percent clip, which is tops in the entire NHL. They’re still just 3-7-3 in that same span however, losing by an average of 2.4 goals per game.

I’ll say it again: Columbus feels destined for dead last this year.

Upcoming Schedule

Columbus has three games this week: in Washington, at home against the Islanders, then they’ll head to Montreal on Saturday night.

Sunday was Bruce Willis’ 68th birthday. For anyone who doesn’t already know he’s retired from acting due to being diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia.

I’ve been using his likeness in these posts for the last few months so I wanted to take a second to say how nice it was to see a video of him celebrating with his family. I’ve got one or two of these left and a few things up my sleeve in appreciate of both him and the namesake movie.

In the meantime ... Happy Birthday, Bruce Willis.