Noon Number (November 27th): 3

What the hell....? - USA TODAY Sports

The Wild's next 3 games seem to have everyone quaking in their boots. I'm not sure why.

Tonight, the Wild take on the Phoenix Coyotes, followed by a home-and-home against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday and Saturday. There has been endless talk over the last week or so about how tough this stretch is and how it will show if this team is ready to compete or not. I agree that the game against the Blues was a big litmus test for the Wild, but, in an NHL where there aren't many easy games, I don't think anyone should fear the Avalanche or the Coyotes.

From the reports, and the talk among fans, you would think the Wild's upcoming schedule featured the Blackhawks, Sharks, Penguins and Bruins. Sure, PHX and COL are no slouches, but if a team is worried about playing them, then they should probably just start rebuilding now because they have no business being in the Stanley Cup playoffs. We're talking about two teams that missed the playoffs last year, not the Cup finalists.

Let's take a look at some of the numbers for the Wild, the Coyotes and the Avalanche to see how scary these match-ups really are.

**

Standings Points

TEAM

P%

RANK

Colorado Avalanche

.773%

2nd

Minnesota Wild

.680%

8th

Phoenix Coyotes

.667%

9th

The Avs have had a fast start, though the underling numbers suggest it's built on a house of cards (more on that later). From the media reports, you'd swear the Coyotes were leading the Conference when in fact they're behind the Wild.

*

Puck Possession

TEAM

FF% (5v5 Close)

RANK

Minnesota Wild

53.5%

7th

Colorado Avalanche

49.4%

17th

Phoenix Coyotes

48.6%

20th

The Wild are mixing-it-up with the big boys in terms of puck possession. The Avs are in the bottom half of the league, and the Coyotes are in the bottom-10. FenClose correlates very strongly with success so Wild fans should feel good about this. Avs and Coyotes fans should be concerned.

*

Sustainability

TEAM

PDO (5v5)

RANK

Colorado Avalanche

103.1

2nd

Phoenix Coyotes

101.3

7th

Minnesota Wild

101.0

9th

All 3 teams are top-10 in terms of PDO. The Wild's PDO is very much driven by their Sv%, while their Sh% is still one of the lowest in the league.

The Avs look like a strong candidate to collapse down the stretch when their Sh% and Sv% start to regress to the mean. They are being consistently out-possessed/out-attempted while getting unsustainable shooting and goaltending, so unless they've discovered some way to consistently get more high quality shot attempts for than anyone else and prevent high quality attempts better too, they are probably not as good as their standings position suggests and are likely to run into trouble down the stretch.

Just today, Rob Vollman of HockeyAbstract.com put together these "luck" rankings based on a bunch of different factors, and the Avalanche came out on top as the luckiest team in the league so far.

*

Powerplay

TEAM

PP%

RANK

Minnesota Wild

21.6%

7th

Phoenix Coyotes

21.4%

8th

Colorado Avalanche

19.7%

12th

The Wild have had the best powerplay of the group so far this year, though all 3 teams are in the top-half of the league.

*

Penalty-Kill

TEAM

PK%

RANK

Colorado Avalanche

84.3%

10th

Minnesota Wild

78.6%

25th

Phoenix Coyotes

76.1%

28th

The Wild and Coyotes are both fairly bad on the penalty kill, while the Avs are pretty good.

***

I'm not saying that there is no way the Wild can lose these games. What I am saying is that these teams are very beatable and are nothing to be afraid of. Being in the Western Conference, most games are gonna be tricky, and the next 3 for the Wild aren't any different, so why all the panic?

Follow me on Twitter for more Wild talk.

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