[Wild About Numbers]: Statistical Breakdown Of The Wild's Potential 1st Round Opponents

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

With the Wild's playoff seeding secured, it's time to look at their potential 1st round opponents by the numbers.

In 2012/13 the Wild's goal for the season was to make the playoffs and any success on top of that was purely a bonus. They did make the playoffs (just about) and were easily outplayed by the Chicago Blackhawks on their way to a 4-1 series loss. This season, with a talented roster that Chuck Fletcher has painstakingly built over the last few years, making the playoffs was expected and to call this season a success the Wild need to make some noise while they are there and not just provide a team with Cup ambitions some warm-up games before meekly bowing out. Not to say the Wild need to win a round to be happy with their season, but they need to play like a team that belongs there and that might be a Cup contender in the near future.

they need to play like a team that belongs there and that might be a Cup contender in the near future

This is a far more talented roster than the Wild have iced in a long time (maybe ever) with a host of stars (Suter, Parise, Moulson, Koivu, Pominville) supported by good role players (Cooke, Brodziak) and a large group of talented young players, many of whom have stepped up to make big contributions this year (Granlund, Nino, Scandella). Their preseason goaltending worries amounted to nothing as the goaltending (regardless of who has been in net) has been mostly excellent. This is no longer a "just happy to be there" bubble team.

Come playoff time, they need to play like a team that belongs there and that might be a Cup contender in the near future.
Winning a playoff series can be something of a crap-shoot as 7 games is a very small sample and things like a goalie getting hot or a team shooting way above their talent level for a couple of games can be deciding factors. But the Wild's chances of getting out of the 1st round greatly increase or decrease based on who they play against. In this article, I'm going to break down the numbers for each team they could face and see who the Wild might be able to beat and who they are unlikely to stand much of a chance against.

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-Firstly, let's check out the current standings:

Standings_medium

  • Things are pretty changeable going into the last 2-3 games. Colorado could still catch St.Louis and Chicago aren't certain to finish 3rd either.
  • The Ducks have won the Pacific division and San Jose and L.A are locked-in as the 2nd and 3rd seeds respectively.
  • The Wild have the 1st Wildcard spot locked up but Dallas and Phoenix are still fighting it out for the other one.

-SportsClubStats.com gives the Wild the following chance at each of these 1st round match-ups (I've also included the Wild's regulation+overtime results against each team this season):

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-So, let's look at some numbers for each of these teams and then I'll break them down individually and assess how they match-up against the Wild [NUMBERS DON'T INCLUDE LAST NIGHT'S GAMES]:

WILD

DUCKS

BLUES

AVALANCHE

5v5 FF% S-A

49.1%

21st

51.0%

12th

54.4%

5th

47.2%

25th

EV Sh%

7.7%

17th

9.5%

1st

8.9%

3rd

9.0%

2nd

EV Sv%

93.2%

3rd

92.6%

10th

92.5%

14th

93.0%

4th

PDO

100.9

6th

102.2

2nd

101.3

4th

102.0

3rd

  • For each stat, I have included the team's percentage as well as where they rank league-wide. Being ranked higher in the "Against" stats means you're better at suppressing shots.


WILD

DUCKS

BLUES

AVALANCHE

5v5 Close CF/60

49.4

27th

55.5

16th

56.8

10th

52.4

22nd

5v5 Close SF/60

26.3

28th

30.7

8th

28.7

20th

28.5

22nd

5v5 Close CA/60

52.8

10th

55.8

16th

50.1

6th

58.4

23rd

5v5 Close SA/60

27.1

6th

28.4

12th

27.0

5th

30.5

22nd

5v5 Tied CF/60

48.1

28th

54.2

18th

56.1

12th

52.4

23rd

5v5 Tied SF/60

25.2

29th

29.5

14th

28.2

21st

29.0

17th

5v5 Tied CA/60

54.0

14th

56.9

17th

48.9

5th

57.7

21st

5v5 Tied SA/60

27.2

9th

28.6

13th

26.3

6th

30.6

22nd

  • These stats relate to how well each team generates and suppresses shots at 5v5 in various score situations. We don't just use regular 5v5 because of noise created by score effects
  • "Close" means within 1 goal in the 1st or 2nd period and when the score is tied in the 3rd or overtime. "Tied" just means when the score is tied.
  • CF/CA stand for Corsi For/Corsi Against. Corsi is shot attempts.
  • SF/SA stand for Shots For/Shots Against. Shots means shots on goal.


WILD

DUCKS

BLUES

AVALANCHE

PP%

18.0%

16th

16.5%

22nd

20.1%

6th

20.0%

7th

PP CF/60

89.4

22nd

102.8

11th

100.5

14th

83.4

28th

PP SF/60

48.9

22nd

53.0

13th

49.1

21st

50.8

18th

PK%

79.3%

27th

81.5%

18th

85.4%

4th

80.4%

24th

PK CA/60

87.2

3rd

105.5

26th

88.6

6th

104.3

25th

PK SA/60

50.3

12th

50.5

16th

43.3

3rd

59.5

26th

  • The above stats relate to special teams. I have included each team's PP% and PK% as well as stats for how well they generate and suppress shots and shot attempts.


-Based on the stats from the tables above, here is my analysis of each team:

Minnesota Wild

Minnesota_wild_2013-2014_rolling_10-game_5v5_close_ff__medium

  • The Wild are in the bottom third of the league in terms of puck possession and are 6th in PDO, which isn't good. They're not quite the Maple Leafs, but they've certainly ridden the percentages this year. I think their possession numbers are a bit misleading as the team missed Koivu, Parise and Spurgeon for some time this year and they are 3 key players in that respect. The truth is probably somewhere in between their standings position and their Score-Adjusted Fenwick ranking.
  • Their very high PDO is driven by their Sv%, which is 3rd highest in the league. Regardless of the injuries the Wild have had in net, they've been fortunate that 3 goalies they have dressed have played way above their heads and essentially put this team in the playoffs.
  • The Wild have had very little shooting luck this year, but that evened itself out over the last stretch of the season and they now rank 17th in EV Sh%. Not very high, but still middle-of-the-pack.
  • This team is absolutely terrible at generating shots. The only team worse when the score is tied at 5v5 are the Buffalo Sabres. This needs to be fixed next season if this team is going to compete for the Cup.
  • They're pretty good at suppressing shots, but their inability to create offence leads to negative puck possession numbers and some pretty boring hockey.
  • Special teams have been an issue of late, with the powerplay's reasonably high ranking mostly coming from early season success. Just like at 5v5, the Wild are bad at generating shots and shot attempts but good at suppressing them.
  • Overall, the Wild seem to be an average but unpredictable possession team who are terrible at generating offence but good at suppressing it who have relied heavily on their goaltending to get them into the playoffs. They're unremarkable at special teams.


Anaheim Ducks

Anaheim_ducks_2013-2014_rolling_10-game_5v5_close_ff__medium

  • The Ducks have benefited from a very high PDO driven by their Sh% but, to their credit, they are a positive puck possession team.
  • They're pretty middle-of-the-pack in terms of suppressing and generating offence at 5v5 with no outstanding strength or weakness.
  • Their powerplay has struggled but they do generate shots pretty well so maybe they have been a bit unlucky. Their PK is fairly mediocre.
  • Overall, they're a good team who have somewhat overachieved this season.


St.Louis Blues

St

  • The Blues are a team who have dominated in puck possession but also have somewhat overachieved with a very high PDO driven by their Sh%.
  • They're pretty decent at generating shots and excellent at suppressing them both at 5v5 and special teams. Their powerplay and penalty kill are both in the top-6.
  • Overall, they're an excellent team in all aspects of the game. Even if they have shot above their talent level this year, they are still terrifying.


Colorado Avalanche

Colorado_avalanche_2013-2014_rolling_10-game_5v5_close_ff__medium

  • The Avs are quite simply an awful 5v5 hockey team. They are one of the worst possession teams in the league who have enjoyed this amazing season based on the fact that they are riding insane goaltending while also shooting way above their heads.
  • For all the talk about their high-powered offence, they generate shots and shot attempts very poorly and aren't good at suppressing them either.
  • Their biggest strength that isn't completely luck driven is their #7 ranked powerplay which is a dangerous weapon. Their PK is pretty mediocre.

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So, I think it's pretty clear that the team the Wild stand the best chance of beating is the Colorado Avalanche. The St. Louis Blues are the team to avoid. The Anaheim Ducks are a tough test but would be preferable to the Blues.

Nothing is guaranteed in the playoffs, as I said earlier, it just takes a hot run of shooting or goaltending to carry a team to a series win. That being said, if I had to choose a team to meet in the 1st round that gives my team the best chance of winning, I'm going to pick the terrible puck possession team being carried by PDO every time. The Avalanche's luck will run out eventually but the question is, will the collapse happen during the playoffs or will we have to wait for next season?

One last thing, the Wild don't have a particularly good season series record against any of these 3 teams but data suggests that season series records tend to go out the window when it's playoff time so I wouldn't be concerned about that at all.

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What are your thoughts, Wilderness?


Follow me on Twitter for more hockey talk. Thanks to Extra Skater for all the numbers featured in this article.
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