Noon Number (December 5th): 7

Jonathan Daniel

I'm subbing-in for Dan today. He'll be back tomorrow in my usual slot.

The Wild take on the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks again tonight after splitting a home-and-home with them earlier in the year. For today's Noon Number, I'm going to examine some of the numbers that both teams have posted since 2007 (the first season Behind The Net started tracking fancystats) to show the dramatically different directions both teams moved in during that time.

*

-The following table shows how each team fared in terms of the regular season standings and the playoffs each season between 2006-07 and 2012-13:

MINNESOTA WILD

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

Season

2006-07

Standings Position

11th

26th

Playoffs?

Yes

No

Round Eliminated

1st

-

Season

2007-08

Standings Position

7th

20th

Playoffs?

Yes

No

Round Eliminated

1st

-

Season

2008-09

Standings Position

19th

6th

Playoffs?

No

Yes

Round Eliminated

-

3rd

Season

2009-10

Standings Position

22nd

3rd

Playoffs?

No

Yes

Round Eliminated

-

Won Cup

Season

2010-11

Standings Position

21st

13th

Playoffs?

No

Yes

Round Eliminated

-

1st

Season

2011-12

Standings Position

24th

10th

Playoffs?

No

Yes

Round Eliminated

-

1st

Season

2012-13

Standings Position

15th

1st

Playoffs?

Yes

Yes

Round Eliminated

1st

Won Cup

I think the most damning thing about the underlying numbers that I will be showing you in a second is that the sample I am drawing from actually features 3 moderately successful years for the Wild. They made the playoffs in 2007 and 2013, and actually won their division in 2008. The Blackhawks, on the other hand, were still rebuilding from 2006 to 2008, so they had a couple of rough years at the start of this 7-year sample. I imagine if I had drawn th following numbers from 2009 to 2013, they would look even more lopsided in the Blackhawks favour.

*

-Here are some of the underlying numbers for each team in terms of goals, shots and unblocked shot attempts (Fenwick) both for and against per 60 minutes, along with where they ranked among the rest of the league in each category:

2007-2013 (5v5 Close)

Team

GF60

#

GA60

#

SF60

#

SA60

#

FF60

#

FA60

#

MIN

1.98

30th

2.37

20th

25.8

30th

30.5

23rd

36.3

30th

42.3

22nd

CHI

2.55

3rd

2.22

13th

31.8

2nd

26.8

2nd

42.4

6th

35.6

2nd

  • The most important stats to look at here are the Fenwick For and Fenwick Against. The Wild were downright pathetic when it came to playing puck possession hockey. Not only did they suck at getting shot attempts in the offensive zone, they weren't good at stopping them in their own zone either.
  • The Wild were the worst team in the league in terms of scoring goals, getting shots on goal and getting unblocked shot attempts.
  • I'll say it again, these numbers include 3 relatively successful seasons for the Wild and 2 awful ones for the Blackhawks, but you wouldn't think it from looking at this table.
*

-Here are some other interesting stats:

2007-2013 (5v5)

Team

Sh%

#

Sv%

#

PDO

#

OZFO%

#

DZFO%

#

MIN

7.66

20th

92.29

11th

1000

13th

27.8

30th

34.8

1st

CHI

8.23

8th

91.71

22nd

999

14th

33

2nd

27.4

30th

  • The funny thing about all this is that the Wild actually had a better PDO than the Hawks during this time, finishing with an even 1000, which means that were perfectly average in terms of shooting percentage and save percentage.
  • It's no surprise that the Wild had the highest percentage of defensive zone face-offs and lowest percentage of offensive zone face-offs in the league. When you're terrible at possessing the puck, entering the offensive zone, exiting the defenisive zone and creating pressure, then you're gonna spend a lot of time taking draws in front of your own goalie.
  • The Blackhawks were the complete opposite of the Wild, having the lowest percentage of defensive zone face-offs and the 2nd highest percentage of offensive zone face-offs.


**

So there's nothing too revelatory in those numbers. Everyone knows that the Wild have been terrible in recent years while the Blackhawks have been one of the most successful teams in the league.

Let's look at how each team is faring in terms of the stats I used above this season. Obviously this is a small sample size and things are liable to change, particularly with regard to GF60, GA60, Sh%, Sv% and PDO, which will all be heavily affected by shooting percentage and save percentage regression as the season progresses.


-Here are the underlying numbers so far this season:

2013-14 (5v5 Close)

Team

GF60

#

GA60

#

SF60

#

SA60

#

FF60

#

FA60

#

MIN

1.82

24th

1.55

4th

28.5

18th

23.9

2nd

36.4

21st

34.6

4th

CHI

2.86

5th

1.91

12th

34.8

1st

25.8

5th

45.1

5th

34.3

2nd

  • The first thing that jumps-out of these numbers is how much better the Wild have become defensively. They've gone from being in the bottom 1/3 of the league in terms of allowing allowing shots, to 2nd overall.
  • The team still isn't producing enough unblocked shot attempts offensively, but they have taken a huge step in the right direction. They've gone from being the worst team in the league at generating offence over the last 7 years, to being just below the middle-of-the-pack. They need to continue improving and generating more shot attempts, but at least they have sorted-out their defensive issues and have a good platform to build-on.
  • The Blackhawks have barely changed, continuing to dominate in all areas.


2013-14 (5v5)

Team

Sh%

#

Sv%

#

PDO

#

OZFO%

#

DZFO%

#

MIN

6.72

21st

93.67

6th

1004

12th

32.1

13th

31.6

17th

CHI

9.17

4th

91.89

22nd

1011

8th

33.5

4th

27.6

29th

  • While the Wild aren't producing enough shot attempts, they are still very snake-bitten in terms of goalscoring. Anyone worried about their Sh% being indicative of their talent and not just down to bad luck might want to note that even the awful Wild teams of past years, that featured Marty Havlat, Antti Miettinen, Devin Setoguchi, Dany Heatley and others in prime goalscoring roles. averaged 7.66% while this current team, that features Zach Parise and Jason Pominville, is shooting 6.72%.
  • The Wild have gone from having the highest percentage of defensive zone face-offs and the lowest percentage of offensive zone face-offs to being a middling-team in terms of both. They actually have a higher percentage of o-zone draws than d-zone draws this year, which is a huge accomplishment for the team.


***


So, while the Wild still aren't on the same level as the Blackhawks, the leap forward that they have taken this year with their systematic switch to a more puck-possession-focused playing style is nothing short of remarkable. If Chuck Fletcher and Mike Yeo were able to initiate this much progress in just a few short months, it's exciting to imagine what they could accomplish in the long-term with a talented prospect pool, a lot of pieces to trade and a lot of salary coming off the books.

I think this team is gonna have a strong finish to the year and make the playoffs fairly comfortably if they can get healthy and start playing the dominant hockey they played earlier in the season. Still, even If they end up missing out, I won't be panicking. This is still a work in progress.

Anyone who longs for the "glory days" of the Wild lucking their way to the top of the league standings in November 2011 needs to realise that the current team is on the cusp of something big and the proof is showing up in their numbers this year compared to recent history.


Follow me on Twitter for more hockey talk.


Noon Christmas Tune:

Seeing as we're now into December and Christmas is fast approaching, I'll be featuring a different Christmas song in each of the Noon Number's I write up until the big day.

Your 3rd song of the month is a typically weird and wonderful performance from Kate Bush:


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