They’re coming for you, Connor Bedard.
While the rest of the clubs near the bottom of the NHL standings keep pulling out sporadic, unexpected wins, the Anaheim Ducks are hard-charging to the league’s basement in the final weeks of the season.
The Ducks set a franchise record on Wednesday with their ninth consecutive regulation loss, a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers in Honda Center. The Ducks haven’t won since March 17, getting outscored 39-14 in that span.
You might say Anaheim re-affirmed its 32nd-place standing on Wednesday. The three clubs are all tied with 56 points, but the Ducks were already in last place because they had the fewest regulation wins (13) among the three. (Chicago has 17 and Columbus 15).
But now the Ducks have the fewest games remaining (four) of the clubs in the fight for the No. 1 overall pick. If they stay put in 32nd place, they’d have a 25.5 percent chance to land the No. 1 pick in the NHL’s May 8 draft lottery.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets, Blackhawks and Sharks have pulled late-season surprises.
San Jose has picked up points in four straight games (3-0-1) for only the second time all season, beating Winnipeg, Vegas, and Arizona before losing in overtime to Colorado on Tuesday.
The Blue Jackets are 3-4-1 in their last eight, with overtime wins over Washington, the New York Islanders and Ottawa, along with an overtime loss in Boston.
Chicago was matching Anaheim loss-for-loss but snapped an eight-game losing streak with a road win in Calgary on Tuesday.
Lowest points percentage with first tiebreak being regulation wins and second tiebreaker being regulation/overtime wins (ROW):
32. Ducks: .359 points percentage, 13 regulation wins, 20 ROW
31. Blue Jackets: .364 points percentage, 15 regulation wins, 23 ROW
30. Blackhawks: .364 points percentage, 17 regulation wins, 23 ROW
29. Sharks: .390 points percentage, 16 regulations win, 21 ROW
Blackhawks 5: Vancouver (A), Seattle (A), Minnesota (H), Pittsburgh (A), Philadelphia (H)
Blue Jackets 5: New Jersey (A), New York Rangers (H), Philadelphia (A), Pittsburgh (H), Buffalo (H)
Ducks 4: Arizona (A), Colorado (H), Vancouver (H), Los Angeles (H)
Sharks 5: Colorado (H), Edmonton (H), Winnipeg (A), Calgary (A), Edmonton (A)
Oilers 3, Ducks 1: The Oilers extended the NHL’s longest point streak to 12 games (11-0-1) with a scrappy win over the Ducks. Klim Kostin had a goal and an assist, while Nick Bjugstad and Zach Hyman (empty-net) also scored for Edmonton, which hasn’t lost in regulation since March 11 vs. Toronto. Goaltender Jack Campbell had 27 saves for Edmonton, which has allowed only two goals in the last four games. The only Ducks goal was scored by Troy Terry early in the third period.
Blue Jackets at Devils, 7 p.m. ET: The Devils can take a major step toward sewing up home-ice advantage in their first-round playoff series vs. the New York Rangers with a win over the Blue Jackets. A win could give them a five-point lead on New York with just three games to play. The Devils looked impressive on Tuesday, a 5-1 rout of Pittsburgh highlighted by Dawson Mercer’s first career hat trick. The Blue Jackets lost 7-1 to the Devils on Oct. 30, the last time the two clubs met in Prudential Center.
Blackhawks at Canucks, 10 p.m. ET: The Canucks have lost four straight (0-2-2) games for the first time since Rick Tocchet was hired as coach on Jan. 22. Their last win was March 26 in Chicago, a 4-2 win that gives them six wins in the last seven meetings with the Blackhawks. Chicago, buoyed by the return of veteran center Jonathan Toews, pulled off a surprise 4-3 win in Calgary on Tuesday. Toews returned on April 1 after missing two months with long COVID. He’s playing only 14:01 per game in his two games back, but has an assist in each game. These games take on added weight because nobody’s sure how many more games Toews, who turns 35 next month, might play.
Avalanche at Sharks, 10:30 p.m. ET: The two teams meet for the second time in 48 hours after Colorado escaped Tuesday’s game with a 4-3 overtime win, just the fourth time in the last 15 meetings (2-11-2) that San Jose has earned a point or more from the Avs. Oddly enough, this isn’t a typical home-and-home, but two straight meetings in San Jose’s SAP Center. This has not been the easiest season for the defending Stanley Cup champ Avs. On Jan. 5, they sat in ninth place in the Western Conference at 19-15-3. They’re 27-9-3 since, pulling into a first-place tie with Dallas and Minnesota in the Central Division.
NHL lottery explainer
The worst 11 teams by points percentage are placed in a lottery to determine the draft order. The 32nd-placed team has a 25.5 percent chance at the No. 1 pick, the 31st team a 13.5 percent, 30th 11.5 percent and that continues to drop to three percent for the 11th-placed team. A team can jump spots in the lottery, but it cannot fall more than two spots. In other words, the worst team will not draft later than third overall.
The top-four draft prospect updates
Connor Bedard, Matvei Michkov, Adam Fantilli and Leo Carlsson are the unanimous top-four prospects in the 2023 draft. Bedard is the definitive No. 1 prospect. After him, there is some debate on who is the next best prospect. The Athletic’s Corey Pronman ranks Michkov second, Fantilli third and Carlsson fourth. The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler had Fantilli second and Michkov third in his most recent rankings last month.
Connor Bedard: Once again, Bedard did his part, but his Regina Pats blew a 3-1 lead and lost 4-3 in overtime at home to Saskatoon, evening their series at 2-2. Bedard had two goals, a plus-2 rating, and 10 shots on goal while winning 23 of 40 faceoffs. Bedard, in his first taste of the Western Hockey League playoffs, now has 8-5-13 and a plus-9 rating so far in this series (four games). The two teams play Game 5 on Friday in Saskatoon.
Adam Fantilli: Michigan carries a six-game winning streak into tonight’s Frozen Four semifinal against Quinnipiac, and Fantilli, a freshman, has been a driving force. Fantilli, 18, has 9-5-14 during the Wolverines’ run through the Big Ten tournament and the first two rounds of the NCAA. He’s scored at least a point in all six games and has goals in five of the six, totaling 35 shots on goal in those six games. On Friday, Fantilli will learn if he’s won the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s top player. He’d be the first Michigan player to win the award since Kevin Porter in 2008.
Matvei Michkov: The Russian Ice Hockey Federation on Wednesday confirmed via Twitter the death of Michkov’s father, Andrei Michkov, saying he “passed away in unexplained circumstances.” The 51-year-old’s body was found Tuesday in a pond in Sochi, Russia. Matvei Michkov shared an emotional post on Instagram: “The best dad in the world. I’m proud of you … I love you.”
Leo Carlsson: For one of the few times this post-season, Carlsson was kept off the scoresheet in Örebro’s Game 3 loss to Skellefteä on Wednesday. He had three shots on goal, a minus-1 rating and drew 17:39 in ice time, second-most among Örebro forwards. The series now stands at 2-1 in Örebro’s favor with Game 4 set for Friday in Skellefteä. Carlsson, 18, is tied for third in SHL for post-season points with 1-7-8.
(Photo: Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)