Game 19 – Minnesota Wild @ Washington Capitals

MINNESOTA @ WASHINGTON

Well, that shootout loss to the Lightning kind of left a bad taste in my mouth (15 seconds away from a win! Argh!), but fortunately the Wild are right back at it as the East coast road trip continues.  The Wild’s strange luck avoiding big scoring stars looks like it might run out, after missing Gaborik and Malkin, it sounds like Ovechkin will play some in this one.

I realized the following fact last night.  In the last 11 games the Wild have allowed 1.76 goals per 60 minutes at even strength (which is not too bad).  On the other side of the coin, Minnesota has allowed 3.37 goals per 60 minutes while they are on the power play (which is very bad).  Think about that, the Wild have allowed shorthanded goals at almost double the rate they have allowed goals at even strength.  I really don’t like that.

Bold Prediction – Ovechkin will take at least 8 shots tonight, but not score.

10

Random 10 –

  • Asteroid – Kyuss – Welcome to Sky Valley
  • Drunkship of Lanterns – The Mars Volta – Deloused in the Comatorium
  • Girl’s Not Grey – AFI – Sing the Sorrow
  • Bladecatcher – Mastodon – Blood Mountain
  • Reflection – Tool – Lateralus
  • No Way Out – Stone Temple Pilots – No. 4
  • Conan Troutman – Kyuss – Welcome to Sky Valley
  • Right In Two – Tool – 10,000 Days
  • Crossroads – The Offspring – (self-titled)
  • I Did My Best – Soul Asylum – Let Your Dim Light Shine


Game 18 – Minnesota Wild @ Tampa Bay Lightning

MINNESOTA @ TAMPA BAY

Playing Toronto seemed to get Minnesota’s special teams back on track and Tampa is a team that has really struggled on the penalty kill (76.9%, 26th in the NHL) and not been terribly good on the power play either (17.6%, 21st in the NHL).  Through judicious pursuit of the charity point the Lightning have managed to remain above a point per game (6-4-5 record).

Bold Prediction – After their win over TB, the Wild realize they are 5-0 against the East and petition the NHL to switch conferences.

Game 16 – Minnesota Wild v. Dallas Stars

MINNESOTA v. DALLAS

Had to wear the classic North Stars jersey today.  (Never forget)

Here’s a look at the Wild leaders in advanced +/- (which essentially compares a player’s +/- to those of the team without them on the ice).  These haven’t been adjusted for quality of competition.

PLAYER EV
Clutterbuck +2.80
Scott +2.11
Hnidy +1.95
Zidlicky +1.72
Brodziak +1.47
——- ——-
Burns -1.10
Havlat -1.94
Schultz -2.35
Boogaard -7.68

Bold Prediction – Derek Boogaard, +1 tonight.

Inspiration

Random 10 –

  • Over It – Dinosaur Jr. – Farm
  • Flood – Tool – Undertow
  • Make Your Own Bones – Nothingface – Violence
  • If You Could Only See – Tonic – Lemon Parade
  • Just – Radiohead – The Best Of
  • Give Your Heart Away – Black Keys – Magic Potion
  • Idiot Wind – Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks
  • Sway – Heartless Bastards – The Mountain
  • Sugar – System of a Down – (self-titled)
  • Graveyard – Butthole Surfers – Locust Abortion Technician

The Triumphant Return of the Random 10 Story

The ball of paper ejects from the desk in the general direction of the wastebasket, but sails over it and joins the flood of rejected ideas threatening to overtake you from behind.  You should call for help, but you were adamant that you wanted to make your own bones on this one.  If you could only see the thoughts put to paper match with those in your head, that would be just perfect.  You prepare to give your heart away to another attempt, but instead you stare at the blank page like an idiotWind rustles the paper mountain behind you, reminding you of past failures, trying to sway your resolve.  Instead inspiration strikes; the sweet sugar of a momentarily brilliant concept.  The rejection of your own ideas is an idea.  That ominous graveyard of crumpled thoughts behind you has a purpose, it’s all part of your process, culminating in the imagining of this new approach.

It’s perfect.

Game 15 – Minnesota Wild v. Vancouver Canucks

MINNESOTA v. VANCOUVER

Wow, it’s been a long time since the Wild have played. Also, don’t tell anyone, but it’s been quite a while since the Wild lost a game. We’ve reached the point where one would expect the new systems of the new coaching staff to be in place. I would say that the next few weeks are going to tell us more about what kind of a team this is going to turn out to be than the first month did. First up on that quest is a division rival that the Wild get to face without having to go up against their all-world goalie. With Luongo on the shelf, it seems like a tantalizing opportunity to pick up some divisional points (the Wild have 2 so far this season, but they’ve given away 5 in 3 games).

Bold Prediction – The Wild (14th best on PP, best on PK) score at least as many power play goals as Vancouver (6th best PP, 19th on PK).

Second Six (or so) Pack

A look back at the last two weeks and how the Wild dealt with all of the Staal brothers:

MINNESOTA 3 – COLORADO 2 (SO)

ST. LOUIS 3 – MINNESOTA 1

MINNESOTA 3 – CAROLINA 2 (OT)  (STAAL #1)

CHICAGO 3 – MINNESOTA 1

MINNESOTA 3 – NASHVILLE 4

MINNESOTA 3 – NEW YORK RANGERS 2 (STAAL #2)

(STAAL #3) PITTSBURGH 1 – MINNESOTA 2

Record Home Away Goal Diff. EV-Time EVGF EVGA EVGF/60 EVGA/60
Games 1-7 1-6-0 1-0-0 0-6-0 –10 310:29 7 21 1.35 4.04
Games 8-14 4-3-0 3-1-0 1-2-0 –1 349:12 10 11 1.72 1.89
TOTAL 5-9-0 4-1-0 1-8-0 –11 659:41 17 32 1.55 2.91
PP Time PPGF SHGA PPGF/60 SHGA/60
Games 1-7 61:36 8 1 7.79 0.97
Games 8-14 39:09 5 2 7.66 3.07
TOTAL 100:45 13 3 7.74 1.79
SH Time SHGF PPGA SHGF/60 PPGA/60
Games 1-7 51:03 0 3 0.00 3.53
Games 8-14 38:34 0 3 0.00 4.67
TOTAL 89:37 0 6 0.00 4.02

Again, 5-9 isn’t quite where the Wild want to be right now, but hey 4-3 is improvement!  The question is now how much has this slow start damaged the Wild’s chances at a respectable record at the end of this season?

Let’s look at what they have to do to reach some milestones with regards to wins.  I broke down the schedule into the remaining home and away games.  Since the lockout about 1 in every 4.5 games (22%) goes to overtime (charity point!), that is pretty much constant regardless of the ability of the team, so it’s safe to project about 15 more overtime games in the remaining 68 games.  Assuming a 50/50 chance at winning those, that’s 8 losses that will still garner the Wild a point (I’ll arbitrarily split them up 4 at home, 4 on the road).

There are 32 games remaining on the road, projecting the Wild’s current record, they will go 3-29.  Now that’s very bad and not very likely, but I think we’ve got some good evidence this isn’t a terribly good road team.  In the 4 previous seasons, only two teams won less than 10 games on the road all season, so a reasonable floor for the road win percentage would be .250.  That puts the likely worst record from here on in at 8-24.  Toss in the games already played, and the projected overtime losses and that’s a road record of 9-28-4.  I’m willing to bet the Wild do better than that, so here are some other possibilities.

Win % Record in Remaining Gms Total Pts on Road
.250 8-20-4 22
.333 11-17-4 28
.400 13-15-4 32
.500 16-12-4 38

Same drill for home games. This time 36 games remain on the schedule, and the current .800 winning percentage is unlikely to continue, but what is the most likely outcome?

Win % Record in Remaining Gms Total Pts at Home
.400 14-18-4 40
.500 18-14-4 48
.600 21-11-4 54
.667 24-8-4 60

Given those four outcomes for home and road games, the range of possible points for the Wild runs from#1 draft choice (~62 points) to pretty likely playoff team (~98 points) without doing anything too unbelievable (usually more than 10 teams finish with more than 55 points at home each season).

So, again, the start of the season could have definitely gone better for the Wild, but given some improvement in the coming months, a respectable season hasn’t been ruled out.  Just in case you remain unconvinced, I give you this.

Sykora

That right there is Petr Sykora battling for a puck in the corner.  And if that is possible, anything is possible.