Game 23 Minnesota Wild v. Boston Bruins

MINNESOTA v. BOSTON

 

MRS MAK -Why don’t you get any comments on your hockey posts?

BIG MAK – Probably because the Wild stink.

MRS MAK – But so do your predictions, maybe if those were better the Wild would be better.

Well, there it is.  A challenge, pitting my predictions versus Wild performance.  Starting now.

Bold prediction – The Bruins don’t score a power play goal in this one (Bruins power play is at 15.2% and falling on the year).

Wild Trade Pouliot for Latendresse

Yesterday the Wild traded Benoit Pouliot to the Montreal Canadiens for winger Guilluame Latendresse.

Faceoffs at shoulder height?  He’s your man.

According to Behind the Net, Latendresse has had a bit of an offensive outage this season.  The Canadiens score at a rate of 1.0 G/60 with him on the ice in 5 on 5 situations (opposed to 2.2 G/60 when he’s on the bench).  Part of that is sample size, and part is playing with the bottom line, so it will be interesting to see where he ends up playing for Minnesota.  Last season, with more quality teammates surrounding him, Latendresse was much better in this regard (2.6 G/60 on the ice, 2.1 G/60 off the ice).

Using the Corsi rating system (again from Behind the Net, Corsi considers shots on goal instead of only goals), Latendresse has been one of the top 3 or 4 wingers on Montreal in the past two seasons with more consistency than with the straight G/60 numbers.  It seems like he could be a solid winger, but probably not going to be a pure scorer (the one goal so far this season is another indicator in that direction).

With the trade of Pouliot the Wild have let all of the top 5 picks in franchise history (2 – Gaborik and Pouliot) go since the end of last season. Overall I have this move as a push or a slight win for the Wild, but man it hurts when you have so few high picks to not have them turn into anything other than second or third line wingers.

Game 22 – Minnesota Wild v. New York Islanders

MINNESOTA v. NEW YORK ISLANDERS

The Islanders have 10 overtime games and 7 overtime losses in 21 games.  On the road they’ve had more overtime games (7) than not (5).  So get ready for some bonus hockey tonight.

Bold Prediction – OK, so it looks like last place in the division for now. I have to say my batting average is pretty poor on these things. So the Wild are going to lose. They are going to lose by a lot.  (But wait, what about the bonus hockey, you say? – They’re going to lose by a lot in overtime.  I’m sticking to my guns.  Even the directly contradictory guns.)

Game 21 – Minnesota Wild v. Phoenix Coyotes

MINNESOTA v. PHOENIX

The second quarter of the season starts now.  The Wild have dominated Phoenix in the past, and both teams are .500 over the last 10 games.  These are the games that the Wild need to start winning if they are going to pull out of the hole they dug in the first quarter of the season.

 

Bold Prediction – The first of four games at home for the Wild, by the end of this stretch the Wild will no longer be in last place in their division (currently – Wild 16 pts – Oilers 19 pts)

Wild Six (or so) Pack – Vol. 3

VANCOUVER 5 – MINNESOTA 2
DALLAS 2 – MINNESOTA 3
MINNESOTA 5 – TORONTO 2
MINNESOTA 3 – TAMPA BAY 4 (SO)
MINNESOTA 1 – WASHINGTON 3
MINNESOTA 4 – CAROLINA 5 (SO)

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
Games 15-20 2-2-2 1-1-0 1-1-2 0 288:02 13 7 2.71 1.46
TOTAL 7-11-2 5-2-0 2-9-2 –11 947:43 30 39 1.90 2.47

Another somewhat middling group of 6 (or so) games results-wise. A point per game is OK I guess, but continuing that pace isn’t going to make up for the poor start to the season. On the other hand, the Wild are definitely coming around on even strength scoring (helped by 4 even strength goals Sunday against Carolina). With six of the next seven games at home, this next stretch should be a chance to climb back toward an even record.

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
Games 15-20 43:18 3 2 4.16 2.77
TOTAL 144:03 16 5 6.66 2.08
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
Games 15-20 38:40 1 8 1.55 12.41
TOTAL 128:17 1 14 0.47 6.55

What happened to the penalty kill?  That is really disturbing and hopefully not indicative of a continuing trend, but in the last two weeks, both aspects of special teams were pretty bad.  Anytime a team is almost outscored on its power play something is going on.

Game 20 – Minnesota Wild @ Carolina Hurricanes

MINNESOTA @ CAROLINA

The Hurricanes have lost 14 games in a row (0-10-4), a streak that stretches back to include the last time these teams met and the Wild won in overtime. That streak is the longest winless stretch in the NHL since the lockout.

Bold Prediction – Hate games like this, the losing streak has to end at some point, but I think Carolina can wait at least one more game.  Wild win.

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.

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.

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.

Game 14 – Minnesota Wild @ Pittsburgh Penguins

MINNESOTA @ PITTSBURGH 

Last night was the first game of the season that the Wild never trailed.  Can they build on that against the defending Cup champions?  It’s a tall order, but once again they’ll face an Eastern Conference team without one of their top scorers.  After missing Gaborik against the Rangers, now they will miss Malkin when they face the Penguins.

Bold Prediction – No one will mention the obvious trend of top scorers in the East being too frightened to play against the dominat Wild (2-0 v. the East).

Game 13 – Minnesota Wild v. New York Rangers

MINNESOTA v. NEW YORK 

Anyone remember the last time the Rangers visited Minnesota?  Here’s a refresher.  Maybe it would be a good thing if injury kept Gaborik out tonight.

Yes, the much-anticipated return of Gaborik to Minnesota was to happen tonight, but a knee injury may keep him on the sidelines.  It’s too bad if he doesn’t play, I’d like to see the reception he would get from the home crowd.  Personally, I would cheer him if I were in attendance, but I’m guessing other may disagree with me there.

Bold prediction – The number of jokes made about Gaborik missing this game due to injury will not be affected by whether or not he actually plays.

Game 12 – Minnesota Wild v. Nashville Predators

MINNESOTA v. NASHVILLE 

 

Updating some stats I looked at a couple weeks ago:

Time spent behind – 378:46 (57%)

Time spent tied – 224:02 (33%)

Time spent with the lead – 67:15 (10%)

The Wild have trailed at some point in every game this season (they’ve had a lead in only 4 games).  Another little note, of those 67 minutes, the Wild have lead by 2 goals for only 2:12 (against San Jose).  That’s a ton of time where one mistake makes a whole lot of difference.  It’s just not fun to play that way, and I’m sure all involved are getting tired of it.

Bold Prediction – Final margin of victory tonight will be greater than or equal to two goals (not going to pick a team, but whoever wins will win by at least two).