Leave it to Charlie Wang and the wacky bunch to make the race to the bottom in the NHL standings more interesting. Back in mid-January, the Isles were a brutal 12-29-4, dead last by a mile and on pace for the lowest full-season point total (51) since the Thrashers entered the league 10 years ago.
They've won 12 times since then, despite icing an AHL-calibre roster, and are 6-2-2 in their past 10 games. The teams just ahead of them have been so brutal that it's entirely possible the Isles just might ruin their chances for top billing in the John Tavares sweepstakes.
Here's the race as of now (with the lotto odds for the No. 1 pick):
Give Scott Gordon credit, though — he's making chicken salad out of
chicken not a whole lot, and I'm sure proving to the brass on the Island that he's the right guy to lead them somewhere when they're ready to go.
Just to show what I mean, here were the Isles' lines for their game on the weekend, a 4-2 win in Chicago over what's been a pretty good Blackhawks team this season:
Bailey - Comeau - Iggulden
Hilbert - Jackman - Thompson
Nielsen - Okposo - Tambellini
McAmmond - Park - Rechlicz
Gervais - Streit
Martinek - Witt
Hillen - Pock
That's a first line that had 55 NHL games experience prior to this season, a second line with 308 games, a third with 119 and a grizzled fourth with 1,404 between the two old-timers. The average forward on the top three lines had played 53 career games prior to this season.
Peter Mannino, meanwhile, was making his first-ever NHL start and made 40 saves. He's an undrafted, 25-year-old goalie who started the year in the ECHL, by the way.
Nutty. But, hey, with fans and media all calling for the tank job to continue, why not make it interesting?
A couple more wins, and their chance at Tavares drops 30 per cent. (Meanwhile Phoenix looks so bad that they might not win another game. The Desert Dogs are 4-16-1 in their past 21 games.)