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Secondary Scoring will be Wild's Key to Winning

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Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Wild and the Blues will match up very well. The Blues have some game-breakers in David Backes and Vlad Tarasenko (and TJ Oshie when the games go to shootout). However, the Wild seem to have the edge when it comes to secondary scoring, and this is going to play a key role in their series this year. Below are the Wild and Blues Forwards who have played more than 100 5v5 minutes this year, sorted by points per 60:

Player Name

GP

G/60

A/60

FirstA/60

Points/60

Shots/60

FONTAINE, JUSTIN

71

0.7

1.55

0.93

2.25

7.53

PARISE, ZACH

74

0.97

1.2

0.63

2.16

10.02

ZUCKER, JASON

51

1.59

0.47

0.47

2.06

10.2

POMINVILLE, JASON

82

0.79

1.16

0.74

1.95

9.13

VANEK, THOMAS

80

0.78

1.08

0.9

1.86

6.3

COOKE, MATT

29

0.82

1.02

0.41

1.83

4.69

SCHROEDER, JORDAN

25

0.68

1.14

0.68

1.82

10.69

GRANLUND, MIKAEL

68

0.49

1.3

0.68

1.79

4.95

COYLE, CHARLIE

82

0.58

1.16

0.58

1.74

5.69

CARTER, RYAN

53

0.28

1.38

0.69

1.65

6.07

KOIVU, MIKKO

80

0.45

1.11

0.61

1.56

5.73

BRODZIAK, KYLE

73

0.64

0.88

0.48

1.52

6.5

BERGENHEIM, SEAN

56

0.79

0.7

0.44

1.49

8.85

NIEDERREITER, NINO

80

0.86

0.62

0.31

1.48

7.38

STEWART, CHRIS

81

0.5

0.88

0.72

1.38

6.56

HAULA, ERIK

72

0.52

0.52

0.34

1.03

6.95

Player Name

GP

G/60

A/60

FirstA/60

Points/60

Shots/60

TARASENKO, VLADIMIR

77

1.4

1.4

0.67

2.79

10.72

SCHWARTZ, JADEN

75

0.92

1.32

0.92

2.25

8.12

OSHIE, TJ

72

0.81

1.44

0.98

2.25

6.88

BACKES, DAVID

80

0.83

1.32

0.72

2.15

7.39

STEEN, ALEXANDER

74

0.82

1.29

1

2.11

8.61

LEHTERA, JORI

75

0.69

1.33

0.95

2.02

4.86

STASTNY, PAUL

74

0.42

1.14

0.78

1.55

5.98

BERGLUND, PATRIK

77

0.68

0.81

0.37

1.49

8.19

JASKIN, DMITRIJ

54

0.9

0.45

0.18

1.36

8.23

REAVES, RYAN

81

0.53

0.53

0.26

1.05

4.82

OTT, STEVE

78

0.23

0.62

0.31

0.86

3.59

JOKINEN, OLLI

62

0.34

0.43

0.43

0.77

8.67

GOC, MARCEL

74

0.27

0.45

0.09

0.72

6.02

PORTER, CHRIS

24

0.27

0.27

0.27

0.54

6.47

These two forward corps are extremely well matched. Some would say the Blues have faster-scoring players, and it certainly seems that way. However, the Wild do have something going in their favor; the scoring rates for their lower lines does not drop off as much as it does for the blues. Here is the graph for the two teams' forwards, with the Y-Axis being points per 60:

You'll note that, while the Blues' forwards score at a higher rate through about the top 6, the rest of the Wild forwards score significantly faster than the Blues' forwards. In other words, the key for the Wild to win is going to be scoring from their bottom two lines.

Game Plan

The Wild could well be outscored in the top 2 lines; not by much, but by a goal or two. If the Wild can take advantage of the Blues' weaker lower lines, they have a good chance to win this series. Based on the lines I see coming out of St. Louis, the Blues know this and are trying to spread their top 6 talent across all four lines.

The Wild have a tough test in front of them, but it is far from insurmountable. The forward corps are matched well, but the Wild have strength in their depth, and it will be needed if they are to be successful. Haula, Nino, and company will definitely need to step up, and if Granlund could find his form from the last playoffs, that would be helpful (to say the least) as well. Ultimately, though, it won't be the Wil'd big knockers to win this one, it will be the depth and secondary scoring.

EDIT:

Huge thanks to Hockey Analysis for all the stats in this article.