Last night was a big night for the Vancouver Canucks if you’re a member of #TeamTank, and let’s be honest, who isn’t a member at this stage? Everyone the Canucks are in direct competition with for last place in the NHL won their hockey games.
The Arizona Coyotes? They came through in the clutch, beating the Los Angeles Kings at home in the shootout moving to 57 points, just two back of the Canucks with a game in hand. The Ottawa Senators? Yeah, they somehow beat the first place Tampa Bay Lightning in a shootout by a score 7-4, pulling two points ahead of the Canucks, albeit with an extra game played. Even the Montreal Canadiens, not pictured, pulled off an unlikely victory at home over the Dallas Stars winning 4-2 and pulling five points ahead of Vancouver.
Also of note, the Coyotes victory over the Kings pushed them to 30th in the league with 57 points, one point ahead of the Buffalo Sabres who are emerging as the Sherman to the Canucks King Tiger in these Tank Wars.
All these bottomfeeders picking up points isn’t a one-off thing either. Look at how each of the Canucks’ chief competitors have performed in their last ten games:
- Arizona Coyotes: 6-3-1
- Buffalo Sabres: 5-4-1
- Ottawa Senators: 4-5-1
- Detroit Red Wings: 2-6-2
- Montreal Canadiens: 3-3-4
Then there’s the Vancouver Canucks, with a 2-6-2 record in their last ten. The only team that’s even giving the Canucks a run for their money in terms of futility are the Detroit Red Wings.
It’s also worth noting that the Canucks haven’t won a game in the post-Brock Boeser landscape and have two goals in the three games since he went down with a season-ending injury, all of which came in a 5-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild last Friday.
At this rate, it’s not unfair to wonder if the Canucks have any wins left in them down the stretch. A cursory glance at their remaining opponents doesn’t reveal any gimmes — even the worst teams on that list are starting to play better hockey down the stretch, and they haven’t all lost their best player for the season.
The way hockey works, the Canucks are sure to win at least a game or two due to some well-timed (or poorly time, I guess) puck luck here and there. Then again, maybe not — last year’s Canucks lost eight straight to close out the year.
Micah Blake McCurdy’s website, HockeyViz, has the Canucks projected to finish third-last in the league with a 71.5 points projection though for whatever that’s worth. That seems optimistic.
In reality, it seems possible — likely, even — that the Canucks could be the NHL’s first team in league history to finish 31st overall. Sure, the losing sucks for everyone involved in the moment, but it’s also the best possible outcome for a club whose best days are well ahead of them. It secures the Canucks the highest odds of winning the draft lottery and the first overall selection in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, and in the worst-case scenario, they can’t drop any lower than fourth overall in the fourth round.
If the Canucks can fall to 31st overall, they secure 18.2% chances of winning the draft lottery and getting their hands on super prospect Rasmus Dahlin; if they stay at 29th overall, their odds will be set at just over 10%. Right now, HockeyViz has the Canucks sitting at a 14% chance of winning the first overall pick.