The Blue Jackets will take the ice tonight against the Ducks, in what will be a battle of two of the worst teams in the NHL. It could be a crucial game for either team by the time things are all said and done – especially if either of them wins the draft lottery this spring.
The Jackets have the worst record by win percentage (.318), but the Ducks (.322) are not far behind. Their 12-28-5 record (29pts) is good for 30th in the league, while the Jackets (13-29-2, 28pts) sit 32nd overall.
Yet it’s the Ducks to seem to have the inside track for the worst record in the league, as they have rattled off the fewest regulation wins (4) and have the worst goal differential (-85) in the entire league. To put into perspective just how bad the Ducks have been, the Jackets (-61) are second worst in this category.
If you’ve followed this Blue Jacket team all year, you know how painful it’s been. The Ducks have been that much worse. The overtime “gimmick” points (overtime losses, shootout wins) account for 11 points in the standings for the Ducks; otherwise they’re easily the worst team in the league this season.
Both of these franchises are clamoring for lottery luck and the opportunity to draft a likely generational talent in Connor Bedard. While the players on the ice and the coaches behind the benches tonight might not be trying to win; as fans it may be hard to decide whether you want to cheer for your team tonight, or the other guys.
Having been a Blue Jacket faithful since the team was formally announced in 1997, I would never cheer against them. But, if it comes down to the final days of the regular season and both teams are in the mix for the best lottery odds, we may look back upon this game and kick ourselves for winning it.
Indeed, Tank Bowl 2022 (you can use that, I’m not copywriting it) might be one of the most important games in the entire history of this organization, by the time everything is said and done. The good news is, regardless the outcome of the game tonight, it’s only half of the matchup between these teams this season. The Jackets will head to Anaheim on March 17 to finish out the second leg of the season series.
Likely starters (subject to change): Elvis Merzlikins, John Gibson
Notes: The Jackets hold a 30-32-1 all-time record against the Ducks, and have lost 6 of the last 7 games in the series (dating back to 2017). At home, their all-time record is 16-15-0. The Ducks are led in assists (24) and scoring (36) by Troy Terry; and in goals (15) by Adam Henrique. Speaking of Henrique, the Ducks are +2 with him on the ice, and -62 without this season. The Ducks have lost 4 games in a row, by a combined score of 23-8.
Puck drops at 7:00 tonight. You can see it live from Nationwide Arena or tune in via TV (Bally Sports+, ESPN+) or radio (97.1 the fan).