Tag Archives: Minnesota Wild

Games 15-18 – Wild on the West Coast

The Wild are on the road again!  Because of course they are.  After this road trip, the Wild will have played 13 of their first 18 games on the road. But relief is coming? They have to play 7 of their next 12 away from home, which feels at least a little bit more even.

As always, we need to point out how terrible the Wild have been on the road (Tuesday's game in Anaheim notwithstanding).

Before this road trip:

  • The Wild had been outscored 17-4 in the third period on the road.
  • They had held the lead in 5 road games at some point and were 1-4 in those games.
  • THEY GAVE UP 5 F****N' GOALS TO DALLAS IN THE THIRD PERIOD!
  • None of this is good.

So, naturally, they got behind against Anaheim and then calmly ripped off three third period goals to come from behind and win 4-2.

  • This team can play good hockey.
  • This team is not a good team.

The story of this season so far is just how true both of those statements can be at the same time.

The remainder of this road trip includes the only two teams in the conference with worse records than Minnesota (San Jose and Los Angeles).  Minnesota's record against teams currently below them in the standings sits at 2-0 (wins over Ottawa and Los Angeles).

Will this translate into wins? See the two bulleted points above and remember that they are both true and we'll never know which will be more true on any given night with this team.

Game 13 – Wild vs. Blues

Game 12 Recap:


Assuming the Wild only quit playing hockey for that 1 period last night and not forever... Their road trip continues tonight as they face the defending Cup champion Blues.

The Blues (6-3-3) are winning half their games and losing half of their losses in overtime or the shootout, so they've racked up some points.

It's kind of odd that the Wild haven't had an overtime game yet. I'm calling it to happen tonight.

Here's a fun game -- look at the NHL leaderboard and calculate how many Wild players you'd have to add together to lead the league in offensive categories....

Points Leader Points Wild Players
Pastrnak 24 Staal (8)
Zucker (7)
Hunt (7)
Zuccarello (2)
Goals Leader Goals Wild Players
Pastrnak 12 Staal (4)
Zucker (4)
Hunt (4)
Zuccarello (0)
Assists Leader Assists Wild Players
McDavid 16 Dumba (5)
Greenway (5)
Staal (4)
Zuccarello (2)

 

Yeah - offense is not a strong point.

This game is on NBCSN, if you don't have anything else to watch tonight...

Game 12 – Wild vs. Stars

Minnesota vs. Dallas in the battle of two teams trying to recover from really bad starts.

The Wild are back on the road again. They still only have one uninspiring win away from home. They've scored only 10 goals in 7 road games and have been shut out in both of their last two on the road.

Dallas started 1-7-1, then have won 3 of their last 4. They've really struggled to score at home (8 goals in 6 games), so don't expect firewagon hockey tonight. A divisional opponent without a dangerous offense? Sounds like a good one to win.

Game 10 – Wild v. Predators

They won some games at home and looked pretty good doing it.

Their reward? A road game against Nashville.

Gross.

Injury update?

 

Nashville is 4-1-1 at home, and the Wild are not great so far on the road (1-5). So the deck seems stacked against Minnesota.

Brad Hunt continues to lead the Wild in scoring. Which is fine and normal and expected.

Apologies for brevity. The day got away from me.

GAMES 8 & 9 – Minnesota Wild v. More of Canada (at home this time)

Two home games in a row!  Maybe this will be what the Wild need to start playing better hockey?  One certainly hopes so.

The Canadiens are fresh off a thoroughly dominating performance against the Wild in Montreal where they won 4-0 and crushed the Wild on scoring chances, shots on goal, and just hockey in general.  Boudreau started Stalock in that one, but I'm very doubtful that he's going to be the answer.

If we learned anything over the 3-game Canada trip, it's that the Wild are maybe a little better than the worst teams in the league (Ottawa), but really just can't hang with the good teams (at least for now).

I said in my first Whangdoodle of the year that the Wild need to weather the first 30 games where they will spend so much time on the road:

The schedule is brutal, but if the Wild are around 12-15 wins after that first 30 game stretch, they get a ton of home games over December, January and February (23 home games compared to 9 road games) and they may be able to make some hay there.

So far they are 1-5 on the road and 0-1 at home.  In order to truly say they "weathered" this first bit, they need to start winning some of these home games and figure out a way to steal some on the road.

I'm getting skeptical that this is a reasonable hope.  The HockeyStats that started the year maybe suggesting that the Wild were unlucky have started to stabilize around a different story (from MoneyPuck).

Welcome to the bad and boring quadrant.  If you choose expected goals instead of CORSI, the picture looks pretty much the same. The Wild haven't been lucky, but they also haven't been good.

 

 

 

GAME 4 – Minnesota Wild v. Pittsburgh Penguins

Doubleheader today, with two home openers for the Minnesota professional hockey teams.


First up:

The Minnesota Whitecaps begin their NWHL title defense with their first game of the season at 2:00pm (you can watch on Twitch if you desire). They've got a highly touted rookie Nicole Schammel, from last year's Gophers team.

It sounds like most of the teams have rookies (more than 50% of players are new) due to the folding of the CWHL and the formation of the PWHPA and their members sitting out the season in order to demand higher pay and benefits.

In my exhaustive research I find that the Whitecaps are expected to be good again this year, although it's hard to predict anything in a league with such massive turnover.


Secondly ...

The Wild continue their search for a victory, now back home in Minnesota against a Penguins team that hasn't looked super great so far.

Minnesota is 29th of 31 in the league in shooting percentage (6.3%) and 28th out of 31 in save percentage (0.854).  PDO says ... yuck.  If you really want to get depressed, check out the High Danger Scoring Chances stat on hockey-reference. If you want an illustration of what needs to change for the Wild to succeed, I think this does it.

HDSC For % Converted HDSC Against % Converted
36 2.7% (31st) 39 15.2% (30th)

However, I promised at one point that I wouldn't lose my mind, so here we go, playing at home against a team that isn't playing their best hockey, that sounds like it could be a win.


GAME 3 RECAP - WINNIPEG 5, MINNESOTA 2

Ugh.  For a third straight game, the Wild battled out of an early deficit.  For a third straight game, they gave it right back and lost.

It's fine to look at a lot of these metrics and see that the Wild are creating just as many chances as their opponents, and they are controlling possession just fine.  But also, they just are not converting and they are not keeping their opponent off the board late in games.

Third period goals for the season -- MIN 1, Opponents 5 (+3 empty netters)

A team can't shoot this poorly all season, but boy it would be nice if they started proving that soon.

GAME 3 – MINNESOTA WILD V. WINNIPEG JETS

Here at the Whangdoodle, we solemnly swear that we will not lose our minds if the Wild lose three games on the road to start the season.

The Jets are not as good as the Avs or the Preds, so this should be (emphasis on should be) the game to win of these first three. When you listen to hockey people talk about the Jets they say things like "can you believe they have Neal Pionk in their first defensive pairing?"  To which I say "I'm pretty sure the answer you're looking for is ... no?"

So defensive issues for the Jets, while the Wild have struggled to score.  Let's see how this goes.

Here at the Whangdoodle, we solemnly swear that we will not lose our minds if the Wild lose three games on the road to start the season.


GAME 2 RECAP: COLORADO 4, MINNESOTA 2

The Wild had 9 chances that were rated at 10% or higher xG (expected goals - as calculated at MoneyPuck), and scored 1 goal. Which feels a little frustrating.  Compare this to Wild opponents this year (5 goals in 10 chances rated at 10% xG or greater).

Image from MoneyPuck.

Looking at xG for the entire game, MIN  outdid COL 2.56 to 2.22. Which doesn't matter of course, but it's at least some evidence that they held their own.  The Nashville game felt like the Wild missed an opportunity to steal a point or two that they didn't really deserve.  This game felt like they should have come away with more than a loss.

Eventually it would be nice to get a win from these decent road performances.  Maybe tonight?

Here at the Whangdoodle, we solemnly swear that we will not lose our minds if the Wild lose three games on the road to start the season.

Unfortunately the struggles of Staal (-2, CORSI % - 23%), Zuccarello (-1, CORSI % - 29%) and Parise (CORSI% - 42%) continued in this one.  All three of those CORSI numbers were lower than every player on the Avalanche in this game.

Here at the Whangdoodle, we solemnly swear that we will not lose our minds if the Wild lose three games on the road to start the season.

GAME 2 – Minnesota Wild v. Colorado Avalanche

Anyone going to watch this one? I admit I will probably be otherwise occupied.

The Wild get to play the two best teams in the Central in their first two games, and both on the road.  What fun!

The Avalanche will be pretty heavy favorites in this one.

GAME 1 RECAP - PREDATORS 5, WILD 2:

  • Parise/Staal/Zuccarello went -3 and generated 1 shot on goal.  It would have been worse if not for Dubnyk standing on his head here.
  • Dumba got a goal, so he's on pace for at least 80 this season.  That will be exciting.
  • Playing on the road against Nashville is a tough way to start the season, but it feels worse when the Wild blow a third period lead.  File game 1 under missed opportunity.

GAME 1 – Minnesota Wild v. Nashville Predators

Hey, hockey season starts today!  And the Wild are on national TV, so I might just watch it.

**MLB postseason drowns out all hockey talk**

It's always great to be at the start of a season and have that sense of unbridled optimism that comes with it, right? Just ask the USA Today and their points projection for the upcoming year.

Oh, God.

All is not lost.  The Wild may play in the Group of Death for an entire 82 game season, and they may start the season with 20 of their first 30 games on the road, and they may still be built around an aging core of players, they may still be one of the few teams in the league to rely heavily on a single goalie, and that goalie may be one who has declined each of the last two years .... I forgot where I was going with this.

Matt Dumba is back!  Maybe Greenway and Fiala and Donato will break out this year!

**someone whispers something about Joel Eriksson Ek**

Anyway.  Things are not as bad as all that.  The Wild are a good defensive team, with their #1 D-man back in the lineup.  If they get any kind of decent scoring together, they will be in the playoff mix.  And, in fact, most projections put them right there.  The Athletic's projection system (by Dom Luszczyszyn ) puts the Wild's playoff odds at 59% before the season opener.

I'll take it.

Sean Tierney collected a whole bunch of points projections into one place and it's clear that most people see the Wild as an 85-93 point team (USA Today excepted).

What do I think?  I read Russo's piece about the new culture of positivity in the Wild locker room and came away unconvinced.  Most of the quotes sounded like a team in denial at worst, or putting a brave face on at best.  The schedule is brutal, but if the Wild are around 12-15 wins after that first 30 game stretch, they get a ton of home games over December, January and February (23 home games compared to 9 road games) and they may be able to make some hay there. I'm definitely in wait and see mode with this team, I am certainly not optimistic that they will follow the Twins example and look like world beaters.

But! There is a way forward for the team, and Matt Dumba might just be a reason to watch all by himself if he can replicate last year and stay on the ice the entire season.

I would bet on them topping 90 points before I would bet on them not reaching 70.

**Reminder: find a pithy quote about how useless the USA Today is for the end of this thing**