Tag Archives: Weekly Wild Whangdoodle

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**

WEEKLY(?) WILD WHANGDOODLE: SEASON OPENER

The Wild kick off their season against Los Angeles tomorrow night, and I thought maybe a look at the upcoming season was in order. Minnesota is coming off their first playoff appearance in a few seasons, albeit an appearance of the “blink and you missed it” variety as the #8 seed. What follows is a quick look at some of the factors that may determine whether they can improve on that result.

ROSTER

The Wild lost Matt Cullen (free agent), Devin Setoguchi (trade), and Cal Clutterbuck (trade) in the offseason, and picked up Matt Cooke and Nino Niederreitter. I liked the guys that are gone, but I don’t know that the loss of any of them is a huge impact. The Wild in the past have always struggled to find centermen, so the loss of Cullen could be a touch more concerning, but Coyle and Granlund (maybe Parise?) should be able to fill that role without too much of a dropoff.

The Wild moved their AHL affiliate to Iowa in the offseason, which, when combined with the fact that they are still a very young team, could have a big impact on the roster makeup. It will be a lot easier to pick up a skater from the minors on short notice, and I expect Mike Yeo to have a pretty fluid roster, especially at the start of the season.

I remember Nino Niederreiter from when he almost singlehandedly pulled off the upset of Russia in the 2010 Under-20 World Championships. It seems he hasn’t really established himself yet in the NHL (2 goals in 64 games), but he certainly seems eager to prove himself (rumor had it that he requested his trade from the Islanders after not getting a chance to make the team after the lockout last season).

Matt Cooke…. *sigh*. I hope he keeps his nose clean. That’s really my only hope for him. I really don’t want the Wild to have to deal with any multi-game suspensions.

Parise, Suter, Koivu, Heatley, Backstrom, Brodin are all back. The Wild are going to rely on young players again this season, but they probably have a solid enough core that, if they can avoid catastrophic injuries, they could be right in the playoff hunt again.

REALINGMENT

The NHL went from 6 divisions to 4 and moved the Red Wings and Blue Jackets to the Eastern Conference, while moving the Jets to the West. I feel like the new divisions really set up the Wild nicely. First of all, Minnesota has gone from 10th to 8th in alphabetical order in the conference, so if playoff spots end up being decided based on that, they’re in!
Perhaps more importantly, the Wild ended up in the division containing the fewest 2012-13 playoff teams.

The Central Division consists of: (* denotes 2012-13 playoff team)

Chicago*
Colorado
Dallas
Minnesota*
Nashville
St. Louis*
Winnipeg

Given that the NHL plays an unbalanced schedule (4 or 5 games against teams in your division, 3 against teams in your conference, 2 against teams not in your conference), that means that the Wild have only 40 of 82 games this season against teams that made the playoffs last year. That’s the lowest number (tied with Chicago and St. Louis) of any team in the NHL.

SCHEDULE

Minnesota opens with four of their first five at home (LA on Thursday, Anaheim on Saturday, then hosting the Jets and the Stars at the end of next week) before an east coast road trip (4 games).
Looking ahead, there are a couple of road trips that look like a bit of a trek (8 of 10 on the road at the end of March, 7 of 8 on the road in December), but they finish the season with 4 of 5 at home, which could be helpful if a playoff push is needed.

With that road trip at the end of March, I’d like to see the Wild in a comfortable playoff position going into the Olympic Break (Feb. 6-Feb. 27) in order to feel good about their chances of making another appearance in the post-season.

THIS WEEK

Los Angeles (7:00, Thursday)
Anaheim (7:00, Saturday)
@Nashville (7:00, Tuesday)

OTHER STUFF

NHL.com Wild Season Preview
Russo on Opening Night Lineups
Parise on the Season

Game 78: Royals 9, Twins 8

Both teams hit some homeruns...and doubles - 22 hits between 'em. In the end, the Royals did just enough against Twins pitching to eek out a "W".

Positive note - after going a very long stretch of the season without a HR, Mountie has doubled his HR total in the last 10 games to 4. Trader Clete now has 3 on the year...le sigh.

In other news and to much less fanfare - the NHL held it's draft. Colorado selected 17-year-old center Nathan MacKinnon with the first overall pick.

More on what the Wild did below.

Continue reading Game 78: Royals 9, Twins 8

All They Do is Win (except when they don’t): Games 10-19

This is not a Whangdoodle though it serves the same purpose.

As they say, you can't win the Stanley Cup in November, but you can lose it. Minnesota seems to be hell-bent on avoiding that outcome. The Wild (11-5-3) currently have the best record in the Western Conference over the last 10 games (8-2-0) and are currently atop the Northwest Division, 5 points ahead of Edmonton and only 2 points behind Conference-leading Chicago.  Here's how they got there: Continue reading All They Do is Win (except when they don’t): Games 10-19

Weekly Wild Whangdoodle – Games 1-3

Another season has kicked off for the Wild, with quite a few new faces.  A quick rundown of those who migrated to the State of Hockey to begin the 2011-2012 NHL season.

Dany Heatley - Traded to the Wild from San Jose for Martin Havlat as the search for Marian Gaborik's heir continues.  Heatley has the potential to pot quite a few goals and he can be a power-play wizard.  The question is whether he will get enough chances to make the difference that a top-notch goal scorer can.

Devin Setoguchi - Traded to Minnesota from San Jose on draft day as part of a big deal that sent Brent Burns to the Sharks.  He's averaged 24 goals/year the last 3 seasons, and the hope is that his pairing with Koivu and Heatley will yield him plenty of opportunities to match or exceed those totals.

Brett Bulmer - Made the jump from Canadian Juniors straight to the opening day NHL roster.  He was a 2nd round pick of the Wild's in 2010, and he's only 19.  More of an energy guy than a goal scorer, and I'd expect him to spend some time in Houston this year, but it's a fun story that he made the team.

Nick Johnson - Spent last year with the Pittsburgh AHL affiliate before coming to the Wild.  Nothing special, but could be a role-player.

Darrell Powe - Traded to Minnesota from Philadelphia for a 3rd round pick (2013).  Checking-line winger, adjusted plus/minus and Corsi don't think much of him, but I haven't seen enough to really say anything.

Contrast those additions with the loss of Mittens, Brunette, Burns, Havlat and Madden.  The biggest impact on the offensive side might end up being a healthy Bouchard and Latendresse.  If those guys are healthy and productive, I think this team could be somewhere around a league average offense, which would be a nice change.

Defensively, they are about the same, although they lose the puck-moving of Brent Burns, they look to Marco Scandella and some younger guys to provide that.   They should be alright but nothing spectacular in that respect.

So average offense, and a passable defense, does that spell playoffs?  It's within the realm of possibility, but I think things need to break right (no injuries, some breakout seasons, etc.).

Continue reading Weekly Wild Whangdoodle – Games 1-3