Tag Archives: Minnesota Wild

Weekly Wild Whangdoodle: They’re Good, Actually

Are the Wild good?

This is the question that keeps getting asked. It's kind of hard to believe that the Wild might be anything other than a middle of the road team that people mention only to say "yeah, they're ... OK, I guess."  But here we are. They took 4 points off Vegas, and continue to dominate teams during 5 on 5 play and get pretty good goaltending to go along with it.  At some point, the question has to be taken seriously.

The Analytic Method

Dom Luszczyszyn at the Athletic has a model that bases predicted outcomes on his Game Score stat (calculated by counting stats like goals, assists, shots, penalties drawn, but also factoring in possession stats like xG, faceoffs, and CORSI) as well as factors like strength of remaining schedule, injuries, etc.  I like it because he continually updates how things have changed over the season, so you can see exactly where the model started to buy into the Wild as a legitimate contender in the West division along with Colorado and Las Vegas.

Evolving Hockey uses a team goal differential stat to compare team performance. The stat is broken down into four components:

  1. Shot Rates
  2. Shot Quality
  3. Shooting
  4. Goaltending.

In comparing the teams in the West across these four factors we see once again that the Wild are comfortably in the same statistical neighborhood as Vegas and Colorado.

The numbers in the table represent the team's rank out of 31 NHL teams.  Shot Rate and Shot Quality are a comparison between a team and their opponent.  The Wild have the largest differential in the NHL between the average quality of their offensive shots and the quality of shots they allow (they rank 5th in shot quality and their opponents rank 29th).

TeamGoal DifferentialShot RateShot QualityShooting%Save%
Las Vegas232291
Minnesota5911712
Colorado61181916
Los Angeles172617156
St. Louis191920324
Arizona233116237
San Jose2522131829
Anaheim2823253123

The DG plays with Spreadsheets Method

Which teams in the division have winning records (taking more than 50% of the points) against other teams in the division? Point percentage in this case is percentage of the points awarded in a game. So a win in regulation gets a team 100%, a win in OT or shootout gets them 67%, OT/SO loss gets them 33% and regulation loss 0%.  Don’t be mad at me that this makes no sense, take it up with the NHL Standings Point Policy director.

TIER 1 - Las Vegas, Colorado, and Minnesota each have a points% greater than or equal to 50 against all but one team in the division.  Las Vegas is lower than 50% against Minnesota, Minnesota is lower than 50% against Colorado, and Colorado is lower than 50% against ... you guessed it - Anaheim.  (Colorado and Las Vegas have split their two games, so are each at 50% in their matchup).

TIER 2 - St. Louis, Arizona, and Los Angeles are each above a 50% points percentage against 3 other teams in the division. This seems like a natural second tier in the division so far this season. Dom's model would see this as a slight to St. Louis, but I think this matches the actual results pretty well.

TIER 3 - San Jose and Anaheim are certainly the low end of the West, generally not beating anyone consistently.

Now I can compare each teams result against those tiers so far this season:

TeamP% vs. Tier 1P% vs. Tier 2P% vs. Tier 3
Las Vegas47%75%74%
Minnesota50%64%71%
Colorado53%67%58%
St. Louis42%40%70%
Los Angeles31%62%50%
Arizona28%52%64%
San Jose24%44%75%
Anaheim39%29%25%
AVERAGE38%53%62%

What stands out here?

  • The Wild and Las Vegas are above average against every tier.
    • They've been good and they've been good against everyone in the division.
  • Los Angeles and St. Louis against Tier 2.
    • The Kings power play caught fire and they steamrolled the Blues over a set of games (Kings went 4-1-1), which makes a big difference in a short season like we've got this year.
  • Colorado against Tier 3.
    • They've gone to overtime against the Ducks in three of their 4 meetings. That makes it hard to drive up their points% against the bottom of the division.

To quantify how much of each teams standings position came from games against each tier I calculated points earned above average using the numbers above.

Teamversus T1versus T2versus T3Pts Above Average
VGK1.74.42.28.3
MIN2.22.81.05.9
COL2.72.8-0.84.7
L.A-2.01.9-1.4-1.5
STL0.4-3.91.6-1.9
ARI-2.2-0.20.3-2.1
S.J-2.8-2.21.6-3.4
ANA0.0-5.7-4.4-10.1

The Grand Conclusion

I think they're a good team, actually. Their point total isn't inflated by beating up on the bottom feeders and they've won some games against the best teams in the division. They have the statistical proof that they have played well, but that their success is not a fluke. Their scoring and expected scoring line up pretty well. (figure from MoneyPuck).

There is of course, a warning in this analysis. And that warning is the St. Louis Blues. The Blues have had a remarkably easy schedule in the first half of the season, playing 10 games against SJ and Anaheim (more than anyone in the division) and 5 games against Vegas, Colorado, and Minnesota (fewer than anyone in the division). But they ran up against a hot team in Los Angeles in February and dropped a bunch of points in games that they probably expected to win.  Now they have to make those points back in the second half of the season against teams at the top of the division, a much harder task. Those 8 games against the Wild have become a much more important set now that the Blues are looking up at the Wild in the standings.

The first half of the season has gone very well, the Wild have surprised a bunch of people by being legitimately good and exciting and fun. In the second half, the biggest danger becomes running into a cold streak or an opponent's hot streak that cuts into the advantage they've built by playing as one of the best teams in the division so far.

This week's schedule:

A whole bunch more words on the standings are up above, but here's how they look as everyone approaches the halfway point.

  1. Vegas - 37 points (25G)
  2. Minnesota - 35 points (26G)
  3. Colorado - 34 points (26G)
  4. St. Louis - 33 points (28G)
  5. LosAngeles - 28 points (27G)
  6. Arizona - 28 points (28G)
  7. San Jose - 25 points (25G)
  8. Anaheim - 22 points (29G)

===================================================

The Kirill Kaprizov Corner

Hat trick! 3 goals in one period! Look at how he shoots this puck on his second goal. He's turning on one skate, with no momentum toward the goal and still scores. AH! It's so good.

And while you're looking at that remember the 10 seconds before that where he comes off the bench like he's been shot out of a cannon and just ... skates past everyone.

He's so much fun.

On the rookie leaderboards, he's first in goals (10), first in assists (14), and first in points (24).

Players not Named Kirill

Who's got the best two-way line in hockey? Your Minnesota Wild, that's who.

Barkov or Barzal will probably win the Selke trophy for best defensive forward, but there will be a whole bunch of stat nerds who will take to Twitter and write "well, actually..." posts in favor of Joel Eriksson Ek.

The bad news is that Foligno will be out for at least a couple of weeks.

Leaderboards

PlayerGPlayerAPlayerPts
Eriksson Ek11Kaprizov14Kaprizov24
Kaprizov10Greenway14Greenway19
Fiala9Zuccarello14Zuccarello18
Foligno7Foligno9Foligno16
Rask6Brodin/Parise9Eriksson Ek16

The World’s Greatest Online Magazine Presents The Half-Baked Podcast: 07. The World’s Greatest Wild Whangdoodle

Hey, friends! Welcome back. Happy to have you.

We have a special guest this time: Daneeka's Ghost!

Topics include:

  • Is an SOS a sandwich?
  • The Wild are fun!
  • Yes, but...
  • A quick look at new additions to the Twins, including a superstar SS.
  • Checking out the 2021 depth chart.
  • A music heavy episode! Even if we didn't remember which songs! Your featured videos:

 
Oceanator - Baby Won't You

Julien Baker - Favor

Semler - Star Shopping

The Chick Corea Elektric Band - Got A Match?

Bunny Wailer - Rise and Shine

Weekly Wild Whangdoodle: Week 2

This week's schedule:

More California teams, and the home opener on Friday.  Home games against the probable bottom half of the division are ones where the Wild need to get points and here are the first two in that category this season.

So far this season, Anaheim has lost two games to Vegas (one in OT) while San Jose split with Arizona.

Last week's results:

MIN 4 - LA 3 (OT) - Highlights

MIN 4 - LA 3 (OT) - Highlights

The Wild schedule has them playing in the pacific time zone for a pretty significant portion of their schedule, so naturally they wait until the absolute latest hour to make things interesting. Two games in a row the Kings had a two-goal lead (the most dangerous lead in hockey!) going into the third period, and two games in a row the Wild came back to tie, and then win in overtime. Requiring dramatic comebacks to beat Los Angeles isn't the most heartening thing, but also, hey they're 2-0 and adding points to their standings total, and you have to take the good with the bad.

Looking at some of the advanced stats (from Evolving Hockey), the Wild played better than the Kings across the two games, pretty handily winning at 5-on-5.

TEAM CORSI% FEN% xGF
Wild53.651.33.9
Kings46.448.72.1

Special teams was a little bit worse.  The Kings scored two goals in 4 on 4 situations and added a power play tally.  The Wild scored all 6 of their regulation goals during 5-on-5 play (they went 0 for 11 on the power play). So perhaps it mostly came down the Wild being the better team that couldn't find the net on special teams.  That feels a little better, right?

The weirdest thing from the small sample size of two games is how much of the Wild's scoring has come from the defense. Suter, Brodin, and Dumba all scored goals, and the Wild have four defensemen with multiple points.  Greenway is the only forward with more than a single point so far.

...

Oh yeah, and Kaprizov, who has 4 points (1G, 3A).

The Kirill Kaprizov Corner

We do love our alliteration here at the WWW.

Kaprizov really didn't waste any time grabbing every Wild internet commenter's attention in his first NHL season. Three points in his debut, including the overtime winner, then after a shaky couple periods in game 2, he dazzled again in overtime and set up Johansson's game winning goal. He's the thing that everyone who is talking about the Wild is talking about after 2 games and it's kind of out of character to see Wild fans be incredibly positive about ... well, anything.

Players not Named Kirill

  • All that said, it might be Joel Eriksson Ek who actually had the best first couple games.  He was second on the Wild in individual expected goals, drew the most opponent penalties, and played the most minutes of any forward on the penalty kill. JEE started only 3% of his shifts in the offensive zone, which is par for the course for the Wild's third line, but he made a pretty outsized impact on the games from that position.  Plus he scored a goal! (Which I totally believed he was capable of doing. Ask anyone.)
  • Cam Talbot was unlucky but OK in the first two games I think.  A save percentage of 91% isn't too exciting in either direction, but it seems like he gave up a lot of rebound goals where he just didn't find the puck after the initial shot. His expected save percentage is pretty much right on his actual for those two games, so in that small sample, it's an improvement over what the Wild have had in the past.
Shots AgainstGoals AgainstFenwick AgainstSV%FenwickSV%Reb per 100SV
Talbot67687.910.9317.2
Expected5.9.911.9323.8
  • Fiala had no points in two games (but took 13 shots, most on the team).
  • Parise had one assist.
  • I don't believe that Victor Rask will stick as the center between Parise and Kaprizov.

Leaderboards

PlayerGPlayerAPlayerPts
8 players tied 1Kaprizov3Kaprizov4
Suter2Suter3
Greenway2Greenway2
Pateryn2Pateryn2
Brodin2
Dumba2

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.