Weekly Wild Whangdoodle: The End

Games this week:

Tonight is the last game of the season between Colorado and Las Vegas, the two teams at the top of the West division.  Here's what's at stake:

  • Vegas wins the division with any type of win.
  • If Colorado wins in regulation, they control their own destiny for the division title, they would need two more wins (of any type) against LA to take the top spot.
  • If Colorado wins in OT/SO, Vegas wins the division with a win over San Jose on Wednesday (LV is 7-0-0 against SJ this year)

Of course, the team that doesn't win the division gets Minnesota in the first round.  Las Vegas has already clinched home ice in the first round, but Colorado needs 3 more points to ensure that they would start the first round in Denver.

Marcus Foligno

Building off my comment in last week's Whangdoodle, let's play a guessing game.  If i give you a graph that shows the Wild's xG% (all situations) in every game this season (depicted as a five-game rolling average), can you spot the point in the season where Foligno broke his ankle and missed  4 weeks? (click the image to see the answer)

If you guessed game 26, you are correct. He was out for 15 games, and when he came back the xG% quickly corrected itself to climb back over 50%.

To get some sense of the importance of xG% and its correlation to Minnesota's success, we can look at the Wild's record when they control scoring chances (xG% >55%) versus when they are significantly out-chanced (xG% <45%).

xG%Wild Record
xG% >55%17-3-1
45% < xG% < 55%12-5
xG% <45%6-6-4

Those four losses in the top category are all memorable, and with maybe one exception, could have easily gone the other way.

  1. Gibson shuts down the Wild (lost 0-1)
  2. Fleury steals a game, Talbot has off game (lost 1-5)
  3. Wild can't score against the Kings (lost 1-2)
  4. Heartbreaking loss in the last minute/OT against STL (lost 2-3, OT)

To pull the whole thing together, you notice that the three groups the games were sorted into are pretty close to equally populated.  When we factor in Marcus Foligno's presence, we get a different distribution

Foligno?Low xG%Middle xG%High xG%

The last fact in all of this is that the Wild managed to end up playing six of their eight games this season against the Avalanche without Marcus Foligno in the lineup. This seems particularly relevant given the playoff scenarios that are playing out this week and how likely it is that we'll be seeing another Colorado-Minnesota playoff series soon.

Current Standings:

1Vegas54803 (division)
2Colorado53763 (R1 home ice)
4St. Louis5357#4 seed clinched
6Los Angeles5348eliminated
7San Jose5549eliminated

I mentioned this before, but even if the Wild don't earn another standings point, they will finish the season with the highest points percentage of any Wild season in their 20-year history.

Kirill Kaprizov Corner

27 goals in 54 games.  He's 8th in the NHL in goals scored. One goal every other game hasn't been accomplished by a rookie in 15 years. (Ovechkin in '05-'06, 52G in 81GP, Svatos in '05-'06, 32G in 61GP)

51 points in 54 games.   Tied for 19th in the NHL in points.

We're getting down to the end of the season, so you would understand if I said I was running a little short on Kaprizov highlights... Oh wait, the folder is still full.

I'm leaving out the highlights of his assists, because he had some beautiful passes, but goodness, he scored so much this week.



Fiala20Kaprizov24Fiala40Eriksson Ek14.6
Eriksson Ek19Zuccarello24Zuccarello35Spurgeon11.4
Foligno/Sturm/Bonino10Spurgeon18Eriksson Ek30Fiala8.7

If Kaprizov doesn't score another goal this season, he'll finish on pace for 39.5 goals in an 82 game season.  So, I think we can round that to say this was a 40-goal season.

Kaprizov is closer to Connor McDavid in xGAR (25.3) than he is to Eriksson Ek.  He is 3rd in the NHL in xGAR. Anyone thinking about who will finish as the runners up to McDavid for the MVP will have to at least consider Kaprizov.

Also, raise your hand if you had Eriksson Ek down for a 20-goal season? It could happen!

16 thoughts on “Weekly Wild Whangdoodle: The End”

  1. Colorado wins over Vegas in regulation last night. It's still mathematically possible for the Wild to move into second place, but it's not worth spending too much time thinking about.

    Wednesday Scenarios:

    If Colorado wins:
    Las Vegas gets no points - Las Vegas #2 v. Minnesota #3
    Las Vegas gets any points - TBD #2 v. Minnesota #3

    If Colorado loses in OT/SO
    Las Vegas loses - TBD #2 v. Minnesota #3
    Las Vegas wins - Colorado #2 v. Minnesota #3

    If Colorado loses in regulation
    Las Vegas no points & Minnesota loss - TBD #2 v. Minnesota #3
    Las Vegas any points & Minnesota loss - Colorado #2 v. Minnesota #3
    Las Vegas no points & Minnesota win - nothing determined
    Las Vegas any points & Minnesota win - Colorado/Minnesota

      1. I think Colorado is well suited for the playoffs (against the Wild or any other team for that matter).... except they can have suspect goaltending. But I'd go with Vegas just based on past record against them.

      2. Vegas, pretty comfortably.

        I liked this article about rush chances vs. dump/chase (non-rush) chances. It shows why the Wild can look so bad against the Avalanche sometimes and match up well with Vegas.

        Summarizing a bunch of stats from that article:

        The Wild's defense is almost completely built around shutting down the other team's ability to dump and chase and generate scoring chances off of that (tied for 5th in the NHL in "Non-rush GA / 60 min"). If their opponent can generate chances off the rush, the Wild's defense becomes much more pedestrian (they are 20th in the NHL in "Rush GA / 60 min"). If you want to beat the Wild defense, do it on rushes, carrying the puck over the blue line.

        The Avalanche score a lot of goals off the rush and rely less on dump/chase (only the Capitals score a higher percentage of their goals off of rush chances vs. dump/chase).
        The Knights don't rely on the rush (40% of their goals are off rush chances - 23rd in the NHL). They score pretty well off of dump and chase, 9th best rate in the NHL, but it plays to the Wild's strengths to play that way.

        Offensively, the Wild have actually turned into a pretty balanced team (well, Kaprizov and Fiala are generating almost all of the rush offense). They are 7th in the NHL in rush goals per 60 minutes, right in between Colorado (2nd) and Las Vegas (11th). They are also 7th in dump/chase goals per 60 minutes, right in between Vegas (3rd) and Colorado (13th).

        Colorado is much better at limiting rush goals (2nd in the NHL in rush goals allowed per 60), while Vegas is right in the middle of the pack (18th, more or less tied with the Wild).

        MINNESOTA -- Good rush offense, Good dump/chase offense, Great dump/chase defense, Pedestrian rush defense
        LAS VEGAS -- OK rush offense, Great dump/chase offense, Good dump/chase defense, Pedestrian rush defense
        COLORADO -- Great rush offense, OK dump/chase offense, Pedestrian dump/chase defense, Great rush defense

        Minnesota's strengths line up with Vegas' weaknesses, while with Colorado it's down to what kind of game the teams get into. Colorado wins if it's up and down the ice, but Minnesota can out-grind them if they limit things to mostly dump and chase.

  2. I was going to say the two assists that Kirill got the other night were gorgeous. Both light, smooth passes when a harder pass would have resulted in nothing. He's like watching a combination of Rubio and Curry

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