Weekly Wild Whangdoodle: Out West Again

Games this week:

On the road again. A trip to the west gets 3 games in 4 days. Don't expect a lot of power-play goals on this trip, it features four teams at the bottom of the league in power play goal rates.  Minnesota (24th), Arizona (29th), Vegas (31st), and Seattle (32nd).

Arizona is truly terrible, they just got their first win of the season last week.  Any points dropped to the Coyotes would be a missed opportunity.

Vegas is really banged up, playing without Marc Stone or Pacioretty or new acquisition Jack Eichel.  This is a good time to run into the Golden Knights.

Seattle has struggled ever since they dominated the Wild a couple weeks ago, but are probably the best 5-on-5 possession team of the three the Wild will face on this trip.

Games Last Week:

Whitecaps Game 1 - Falling behind 6-1 to Boston is probably not exactly how they drew up the season opener.  They would rally to score some goals late in the third and lose 6-4.

Allie Thunstrom had two goals and an assist, plus 8 shots on goal to lead the Whitecaps.

Taylor Turnquist  had two assists.

Whitecaps Game 2 - A much tighter game, but still a loss. This time Minnesota fell 1-0 to Boston in a goalie battle. The Whitecaps were pretty handily outshot, but hung in there pretty well.
Game 9: Except for a lull in the second period and a bad challenge by Evason that lead to a Senators power-play goal, this was a good win for the Wild.

Kaprizov scored a goal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He got the OT winner, and a huge monkey off his back.

Game Stats
Game 10: Another comeback. Down by two with 5 minutes to go, the Wild scored twice to tie, including Hartman scoring with less than 3 seconds on the clock to tie the game. This team is really good when they're 5-on-5, they are amazing when they are 6-on-5, but put them 5-on-4 and they are just ... nothing.  I don't get it.

Adam Beckman got his first career point, an assist on the game-tying goal.

Bjugstad got the shootout winner, Kaprizov and Fiala also scored in the shootout.

Game Stats
Game 11: The triumphant return of Victor Rask!  Also, Zuccarello and Pitlick came back from the COVID list. From the long list of injuries/illnesses last week, only Jordan Greenway remains inactive, but it sounds like he'll be returning soon.

Pretty good game for the Wild, highlighted by a truly dominant third period where they scored 4 goals (2 of them into the empty net) to avoid any need for last second magic.

Duhaime, Bjugstad, Ek got goals.

Game Stats
Remind me what these things mean? SelectShow


  • Best news of the week was probably Kaprizov getting 2 goals in three games. A close second was that Kaapo Kahkonen looked pretty solid in the win over the Islanders. Goaltending continues to be a concern, but a stable Kahkonen goes a long way to avoiding it becoming a disaster.
  • The Wild have the highest xGF% in the NHL at 5-on-5 this year.  If they ever get their special teams sorted out and clicking they will be a steamroller of a team.
  • Defense is the new offense. Matt Dumba leads the team in points, and the Wild D have 8 goals and 24 assists in 11 games (0.73 GPG, 2.9 PPG).  That's way ahead of their pace last year (0.5 GPG, 2.1 PPG).
  • Alyssa Longmuir had the Whitecaps a step behind Boston in her pre-season PHF rankings, and it seems like that was pretty well borne out.  Tough to open on the road against the consensus best team in the league.

Kaprizov Korner

OT winner!

Standings and Stats

CENTRAL Games Pts PTS% EV xG% EV Corsi EV Sh% EV Sv% PPG/60 PKGA/60
MINNESOTA 11 16 62% 58% 55% 7.3% 90% 6.3 8.3
ST LOUIS 10 15 71% 49% 51% 8.6% 94% 12.6 4.1
WINNIPEG 11 14 56% 49% 52% 9.5% 94% 10.9 12.8
NASHVILLE 12 13 48% 50% 49% 7.0% 93% 10.1 6.1
DALLAS 11 10 36% 51% 48% 4.7% 94% 11.2 9.3
COLORADO 10 9 41% 54% 51% 7.3% 90% 3.7 5.5
CHICAGO 13 6 21% 42% 46% 5.6% 88% 7.2 4.0
ARIZONA 12 3 12% 46% 46% 6.3% 90% 3.3 13.0

I'm putting this up before Winnipeg plays St. Louis on Tuesday so that the Wild can be on top of the division.

Dumba 2 7 9 0.3
Kaprizov 2 7 9 -0.9
Foligno 4 4 8 -0.6
Hartman 6 1 7 5.2
Zuccarello 3 4 7 2.8
Brodin 2 4 6 1.5
Eriksson Ek 4 2 6 0.7
Spurgeon 2 3 5 3.1
Duhaime 2 3 5 0.5
Fiala 1 4 5 -0.8
Sturm 2 2 4 2.2
Gaudreau 1 3 4 1.6
Kulikov 0 4 4 1.1
Goligoski 0 4 4 -0.2
Merrill 1 2 3 -0.1
Bjugstad 2 0 2 0
Greenway 0 2 2 -1.2

24 thoughts on “Weekly Wild Whangdoodle: Out West Again”

  1. Defensive Pairs:

    Pair TOI Fen% xG% G%
    Brodin-Dumba 178 54.6% 56.2% 45.5%
    Spurgeon-Goligoski 100 53.5% 54.0% 30.0%
    Kulikov-Merrill 103 61.2% 69.1% 61.5%

    The Kulikov-Merrill pair has been so much better than expected, and they're getting the shooting/save percentage results that match their possession numbers.

    Spurgeon-Goligoski is getting crazy unlucky (Minnesota's save percentage with those two on the ice is 82.1%, that's bad!), although they are allowing a higher quality of shots against compared to the other two pairs. Their goal share shouldn't be this low, but they have the worst underlying numbers of the three pairs.

    Brodin-Dumba are creating so much offense and the puck just isn't finding the back of the net. This is the Wild's #1 D-pair and they are stellar.

    So, the good news is that the top two pairs are good candidates for things to even out and lead to better results as far as scoring goes. I'm not a believer in Kulikov-Merrill as a top pair the way their numbers indicate, but used the right way they have been, they're an asset.

  2. Question about powerplay vs. 5-on-5/6-on-5:

    Is it possible that teams just play different when they've only got 4 defenders, and that's part of the explanation for why the Wild are worse at that (they were worse at it last year too, right?), like, when there are more defenders the Wild do good getting through smaller spaces, but when there are 4 defenders the Wild don't work as well in open space, or something like that? Just idle, uneducated speculation here, but I'm generally comfortable with that...

    1. Yeah, you're definitely right. Playing with 4 skaters and being able to ice the puck in a penalty kill situation is a very different situation than 5-on-5 or 6-on-5.

      A theory is that the Wild are good at preventing controlled zone exits (carrying the puck out of the zone on the rush), but nobody tries to do that on the penalty kill, so Minnesota's main offensive pressure point (turning the puck over before it gets out of the zone) is no longer applicable. I'd have to do more research to see if that's true or not.

  3. I was in attendance for the NYI game. To my untrained eye, the Wild looked like they dominated the game and it felt like a loss (they trailed after 2) would have been a real shame. Then, they exploded in the third and everyone was happy.

      1. Did you see Evenson's comments after that Islander's game? Basically put Sutter and Parise on blast without saying their names (basically liked his team and their attitude and the fact that it's nice to have players who know their role and not complaining about rink time, usage, etc). The fact that Parise was literally a locker room away when he said it was truly something.

          1. "I love this team I got now! Dumping those two malcontents had to be done. Just ignore that we consigned ourselves to Dead Cap Space Hell by doing it."

            1. Am I wrong to think that the cap space was already gone when they signed the contracts? I mean, I get that it's now money spent on players who aren't on the roster, but the money wasn't going to be there either way, right?

              1. There was always the Long Term Injured Reserve loophole that other teams have used to avoid this problem.

                We covered this quite a bit on the lost podcast, but in shorter form,
                1. This salary cap difficulty was almost inevitable when they signed the long deals.
                2. It's made worse because of the pandemic-induced flat cap.
                3. Buying them out removes any possibility of alleviating the cap crunch. Trades of big contracts happen a bunch in the NHL, the LTIR option was there until the buyout.
                4. Guerin/Evason believed they needed to go, that's very clear. Expecting them to say anything else is silly.
                5. If Suter or Parise were to retire before the end of the contract the Wild were screwed with a capital F on their salary cap. The buyout prevents that in a way that playing out the contract or LTIR or a trade doesn't.

    1. My parents were also there. It was the 50th anniversary of their first date when they went to a minor league hockey game in Omaha (the Omaha Knights).

  4. World Junior Championships are coming (players under 20 years old).

    Scott Wheeler at The Athletic projected some rosters and there's a few Wild prospects that will be there.

    Marat Khusnutdinov (2nd round pick 2020) will probably be the top-line center for Russia
    Jesper Wallstedt (1st round pick 2021) will be the primary goaltender for Sweden

    Carson Lambos (1st round pick 2021) is likely to be on the blue line for Canada
    Ryan O'Rourke (2nd round pick 2020 ) is borderline, but might get some consideration as a defenseman for Canada as well
    Daemon Hunt (3rd round pick 2020) is also mentioned as a potential surprise inclusion on Canada's defense

    I think Marco Rossi is too old to play for Austria? But I'm not sure on that. The Wild may not let him go either.

  5. A little micro-trend for early on in the season:

    Situation Games Record 5-on-5 Corsi PPG/60
    Home 5G 4-1 60% 7.56
    1st game of road trip 4G 4-0 56% 8.44
    2nd+ game of road trip 4G 1-3 46% 3.42

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