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.
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%).
|45% < xG% < 55%||12-5|
Those four losses in the top category are all memorable, and with maybe one exception, could have easily gone the other way.
- Gibson shuts down the Wild (lost 0-1)
- Fleury steals a game, Talbot has off game (lost 1-5)
- Wild can't score against the Kings (lost 1-2)
- 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.
|2||Colorado||53||76||3 (R1 home ice)|
|4||St. Louis||53||57||#4 seed clinched|
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.
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!