Weekly Wild Whangdoodle: Just Deserts

Six wins in a row! Hard to feel bad about that.

Thanks to a quirky California-heavy schedule and a COVID shutdown that skipped over some games against the division powerhouses, the Wild have fattened up their record to the point that they spent a couple of hours in first place in the division on Saturday night.

But that's probably selling this team short a little bit. They've played really well. The goalies have been really solid, the defense has been stingy, and they've gotten offensive contributions from several lines (who had Marco Nico Sturm down for a three-goal week?).

  • Zuccarello has a six-game point streak and is up to fourth on the team in points despite playing in less than half the games. He's been great on a line with Kaprizov, and his pass to Dumba in the waning seconds of overtime on Saturday was a really nice play.
  • Sturm-Bonino-Bjugstad has been a really great fourth line. It always feels like damning with faint praise to say things like that, but these three were consistently good last week.
  • Jordan Greenway continues to pile up assists. Last season, he had a career high in points and points per game (28 points, 0.42 P/G). In 18 games this year, he's halfway to that point total (2G-12A-14pts) and nearly doubling up his points per game pace (0.78 P/G).

This week's schedule:

Two teams that Minnesota hasn't seen yet this season will now be their only opponents for the next two weeks.

Las Vegas is good - they've beat up on everyone in the division except Colorado (10-2-1 record against non-Colorado opponents this year). Their goalie has been red-hot, they've dominated 5-on-5 (only the Wild have better even strength numbers in the West division).  Their power play hasn't been amazing (18th in the NHL in goals/60), but they've been unlucky (7th in the NHL in xG/60), so I'd be OK not giving them too many chances.

Arizona has had a truly strange schedule, with more than half of their games coming against two teams (STL and ANA). But they've been a pretty middle of the road team (as evidenced by their 1.00 points/game place in the standings). They've lost when they've played COL and Vegas (1-5 record against those two), but also lost as many games as they've won against the California teams (4-2-2 record).  Most of the stats favor the Wild in these games, but this is probably the team most likely to challenge the Wild for a playoff spot as the season goes on.

Updating the standings reveals that everyone except San Jose and Anaheim are very close. It will be interesting to see how long LA and Arizona remain in the mix, and if St. Louis can keep up with the top teams.

  1. Vegas - 25 points (17G)
  2. Minnesota - 24 points (18G)
  3. St. Louis - 24 points (21G)
  4. Colorado - 23 points (18G)
  5. LosAngeles - 22 points (20G)
  6. Arizona - 21 points (21G)
  7. Anaheim - 17 points (21G)
  8. San Jose - 16 points (18G)

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The Kirill Kaprizov Corner

I love this kid. He's so good. He tries passes that other people wouldn't think of and then pulls them off. He's so strong on the puck and always seems to have somewhere to go with it. There's no other word for it other than that he's fun to watch. Since being paired with Zuccarello, he's started to get more scoring chances as well.

On the rookie leaderboards, he's first in assists (11), second in goals (6), and first in points (17).  He's well on his way to the Calder, and if this pace continues, it won't be close.

Players not Named Kirill

  • Eriksson Ek's next goal will set a new career high for goals in a season for him.
  • Notably missing from the leaderboards below is Zach Parise.
  • 18 games into the season, and the team leader in points on the power play is ... Zach Parise, with 2 assists. Kevin Fiala is tied for the lead with 2 goals.
  • Ryan Hartman has played really well in a new role (center).

Leaderboards

PlayerGPlayerAPlayerPts
Eriksson Ek8Greenway12Kaprizov17
Fiala6Kaprizov11Greenway14
Kaprizov6Suter8Eriksson Ek12
Rask5Zuccarello8Zuccarello11
Dumba/Foligno4Hartman6Fiala / Rask / Hartman9

27 thoughts on “Weekly Wild Whangdoodle: Just Deserts”

  1. Is Fleury large for a goaltender? Is it the color of their jerseys? He just looks... like he fills up more of the goal than most goalies.

      1. I would agree with that, from the parts I watched. There were a significant number of times when it seemed like a puck should have made it past. From the relatively small amount of hockey that I've watched, in these 2 games it looked like Vegas was probably the better team, but not that much better.

      2. This was the biggest gap between xG for the Wild and their actual goal output this season, only the time Gibson shut them out in Anaheim comes close.

        It was also the biggest gap between xG for a Wild opponent and their actual goal output.

        The Bad Days at the Office Games so far this season
        Loss 1-5 to Vegas (5.05 difference between expected goals and actual)**
        Loss 0-4 to Los Angeles (3.5 difference between expected goals and actual)
        Loss 1-5 to Colorado (2.68 difference between expected goals and actual)
        Loss 0-1 to Anaheim (2.34 difference between expected goals and actual)**

        ** Wild xG was greater than opponent's xG

        1. How is xG factored? Does quality of goalie matter? Or is it "based on number and type of shot, this would you would expect against an average defense"

          1. Based on shot location and what game events just happened earlier (rebounds are different from initial shots, etc.)

            Goalie is not factored in, so if a team over performs their xG, either they are snipers or the goalie played poorly.

            Edited to add this from MoneyPuck:

            Variables In Shot Prediction Model:

            1.) Shot Distance From Net
            2.) Time Since Last Game Event
            3.) Shot Type (Slap, Wrist, Backhand, etc)
            4.) Speed From Previous Event
            5.) Shot Angle
            6.) East-West Location on Ice of Last Event Before the Shot
            7.) If Rebound, difference in shot angle divided by time since last shot
            8.) Last Event That Happened Before the Shot (Faceoff, Hit, etc)
            9.) Other team's # of skaters on ice
            10.) East-West Location on Ice of Shot
            11.) Man Advantage Situation
            12.) Time since current Powerplay started
            13.) Distance From Previous Event
            14.) North-South Location on Ice of Shot
            15.) Shooting on Empty Net

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