[Wild About Numbers]: Did The Better Team Lose In The Wild vs Blackhawks Series?

Hannah Foslien

There is an argument to be made that the Wild outplayed the Blackhawks in their 2nd round playoff series.

As I have previously noted, the Wild ranked pretty low as a puck possession team this year and they have their goaltending to thank for dragging them into the playoffs. Still, their low ranking, as I discovered on Tuesday, isn't a fair representation of their actual talent. The Wild showed off that talent in the 1st round by dominating one of the worst possession teams in the league to the tune of 61.3% Fenwick For% at 5v5 Close.

Their 2nd round match-up against the Chicago Blackhawks was always going to be a much tougher test. The Blackhawks were the 2nd best possession team in the league this year and have been a possession juggernaut over the last few seasons. Before this series, I expected the Wild to get dominated and I felt that, to have any chance of victory, they would need to get some crazy goaltending and solid special teams.


-Here's how things actually played out in each game from a possession standpoint:

(5v5 Close)

Corsi For%

Fenwick For%

Score

Game 1

51.0%

57.1%

2-5

Game 2

41.8%

35.3%

1-4

Game 3

46.8%

38.1%

4-0

Game 4

62.5%

63.4%

4-2

Game 5

39.7%

43.9%

1-2

Game 6

55.7%

58.9%

1-2 (OT)

  • The Wild were the dominant team in Games 1, 5 and 6. They won one of these and lost the other two.
  • In the games where they didn't have the greater share of the possession, they also went 1-2, the win being their 4-0 victory where they slept for two periods before coming to life in the 3rd.
  • It's interesting that in Games 2 and 3, the Wild's fenwick was pretty bad but their corsi was much better, which suggests that blocked shots were a major factor in those games.


So, with those possession numbers, the Wild probably should've taken this series to Game 7 at the very least. Why didn't they? Well there are a couple of reasons.......



-Here is their even strength Sh%, Sv% and PDO for each game (PDO is the two %s added together with a score of below 1000 suggesting they were underperforming their shot differentials, while a result of over 1000 suggests they were outperforming them):

Even Strength

Sh%

Sv%

PDO

Game 1

7.4%

87.5%

949

Game 2

7.1%

85.0%

921

Game 3

13.3%

100.0%

1133

Game 4

12.0%

88.2%

1002

Game 5

4.2%

96.0%

1002

Game 6

3.1%

92.0%

951

Average

7.85%

91.45%

993

  • Two of the team's best performances ended in losses thanks to, in Game 1, a lousy night for Bryzgalov in net and, in Game 6, a stellar night for Crawford.
  • The Wild didn't get very good goaltending in Games 1, 2 and 4, but were able to win Game 4 thanks to some efficient shooting.
  • Overall, they posted a low PDO of 993. Their Sh% was 0.03% lower than their regular season average, while their Sv% was 1.65% lower.
  • The difference in Sv% is significant as their regular season percentage ranked 3rd in the league while their post season percentage would've been good for 25th.


-Another factor that played into the Wild's early demise was their special teams:

Powerplay

MIN

CHI

Game 1

0/3

2/4

Game 2

0/1

0/2

Game 3

1/4

0/2

Game 4

1/5

0/2

Game 5

0/1

1/2

Game 6

0/3

0/1

Success%

11.76%

23.08%

  • As you can see, both teams had vastly different results on the powerplay.
  • For perspective, the Wild's 11.76% would've placed them 29th in the regular season, while the Hawks 23.08% would've put them 1st.
  • You can see the games where the special teams really hurt the Wild in the above table. They won the possession battle in Game 1, but couldn't score on 3 powerplay chances, while the Hawks scored twice. Taking out the empty netter, that was a 2 goal game. Special teams competence would've given the Wild every chance to walk away with a win there.
  • Same again in Game 6; the Wild were the better team but couldn't convert on the powerplay with 3 attempts.
  • Special teams continue to be a huge black mark against Mike Yeo as a coach, going right back to his days in Pittsburgh where a lot of fans felt that he wrecked their powerplay. He needs to figure this out by next season.


-So, here are the important points of the series summed up in 1 table:

MIN

CHI

Possession

50.8%

49.2%

PDO

990

1010

*

Overall, the difference between the two teams in this series was marginal. The Wild were the better team in 3 games, 2 of them being at home. If it had gone to Game 7 like it probably should have, the Wild would've been underdogs, just because the Blackhawks put up much better numbers at home vs on the road but, after winning the possession battle in 2 out of the last 3 games, there would have been every chance they could succeed.

Still, the stats from this series are something the Wild can look back on with pride. They went toe to toe with one of the best teams in the league, if not the best, and in the end the difference between them was goaltending and special teams. Luck and bounces are a big factor in winning playoff series and the Wild didn't get many of them going their way in that series. They didn't get a game where Crawford totally capitulated nor did they didn't get a game where their powerplay just exploded. Things were close and cagey and, despite the Wild's good puck possession play at 5v5, the Hawks were able to get across the line in 6 games.

The playoffs are a small sample of games and it's important not to draw too many conclusions from them but this looks like a massive step in the right direction for the Wild under Yeo. We know Chuck Fletcher likes his analytics so I'm hoping he spends this offseason looking at what worked and what didn't work for the Wild and then bringing in players who can help them take that next step so that they are the ones who get to march on to the Conference Finals next season.

It sucks that the Wild are out and that the season ended on such a down note with the Wild losing a game they dominated, but there are massive positives to be taken away from this defeat and the playoffs as a whole.

What are your thoughts, Wilderness?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Follow me on Twitter for more hockey talk.

Thanks to Extra Skater, Hockey Analysis, Hockey Abstract and SomeKindOfNinja for all the data.

For a quick advanced stats 101, read this. For more in-depth stuff, read this.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Hockey Wilderness

You must be a member of Hockey Wilderness to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Hockey Wilderness. You should read them.

Join Hockey Wilderness

You must be a member of Hockey Wilderness to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Hockey Wilderness. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9355_tracker