The Canucks have been the worst team in the NHL since Christmas, but can they keep it up?
Photo credit:© Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
9 months ago
You’re not misreading that, and it might not even come as much of a surprise.
Yes, the Vancouver Canucks have been the worst team in the entire National Hockey League since Christmas.
Since Christmas, the Canucks have a record of 6-15-1, good enough for 13 points and an overall points percentage of .295.
The only team that’s been almost as bad as the Canucks is the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have amassed a record of 6-13-2, leaving them with 14 points and a points percentage of .333. By points percentage, the rest of the league’s basement since Christmas plays out as follows: the Chicago Blackhawks at .405; the Arizona Coyotes at .413, the San Jose Sharks and Montreal Canadiens at .425, and the Anaheim Ducks at .450.
As you may have been able to tell by the teams we just listed, the Canucks, the 2023 calendar year has been very good for the Canucks’ draft lottery hopes.
After last night’s loss to the Rangers, the Canucks are now tied with the Coyotes for 28th place, with both teams sitting with 46 points in the standings. The San Jose Sharks, who currently have the fourth-best lottery odds, sit just one point behind the Canucks at 45. The Anaheim Ducks have 40 points and sit 30th overall in the league standings. As mentioned though, Anaheim has been winning more games than most teams at the bottom of the standings.
Teams like the Philadelphia Flyers (.625), Ottawa Senators (.600), Buffalo Sabres (.571) and Detroit Red Wings (.548) have been surging since Christmas, and have essentially taken themselves out of the draft lottery conversation.
With just 36 and 37 points, respectively, it’s likely going to be difficult to reach Columbus and Chicago for top two odds in the draft lottery. That being said, if these teams — the Canucks included, obviously — continue to play at the pace they have been since Christmas, it’s going to be closer than many would have imagined at the outset of the season.
This is all just to say that the Canucks are right there, and even if they don’t win the lottery and draft hometown kid Connor Bedard, they’re still going to get a great player near the top of the draft. And so far in the year 2023, they’ve put themselves in a great position to do just that. Obviously, Bedard is this team’s Stanley Cup this season, but a player like Leo Carlsson, Adam Fantilli, or Matvei Michkov is certainly a consolation prize this market would welcome with open arms.
But can the Canucks continue playing this poorly for the rest of the season?
The remaining schedule
According to tankathon.com‘s remaining schedule strength tool, the Canucks have the third-easiest schedule in the league from here on out.
Now, while that’s not great news for Canucks fans, the silver lining is that the Sharks, Coyotes, Blues, Ducks, and Blackhawks are all in the top ten for easiest strength of schedule remaining. The bad news is that the Montreal Canadiens — a team the Canucks are currently ahead of by four points in the Bedard sweepstakes — have the toughest remaining schedule of any team in the league.
They’ll be a team to watch as we keep a close eye on the league basement each week in our new Draft Lottery 2023 weekly series by Lachlan Irvine.
With three matchups down the stretch against the Ducks, along with two against each of the Coyotes, Blues, and Blackhawks, the Canucks are going to be playing some non-traditional meaningful hockey as the season winds down.
Thatcher Demko is obviously the big wild card in all of this. The Canucks’ defensive woes are nothing new, but not getting elite-level goaltending to mask those defensive issues is something that seems to have caught the Canucks very off guard with this season.
If Demko returns and plays like the goaltender Canucks fans know he can be, then this team could easily find themselves climbing up at least two or three spots in the standings. They’ll still likely be good — or should we say bad — enough to draft in the top ten in this year’s loaded draft, but the consensus seems to be that the top five is where the real difference makers are in this draft class.
The Canucks’ schedule and their starting netminder being back will probably allow them to pick up more wins over the next month and a half than they have since Christmas. So if you’re hopeful for Bedard (aren’t we all) then you’re going to want to hope that the teams around the Canucks continue to win more games than many would have expected them to down the final stretch of the season.
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