It’s a rainy day in Southern California–a perfect time to stay inside and look at some early returns from the Minnesota Wild’s first three games. I’m having trouble navigating the behindthenet.ca site, so for now I’ll have to settle with just a basic look at Corsi-related stats. Once I figure out what I’m doing wrong over there I’ll be able to dig deeper and get into some more thorough analysis. All numbers posted below are even-strength.
Top Line: Parise-Koivu-Heatley
The first thing I see is that Mike Yeo has been capitalizing on the club’s three straight home games and using the top line in an opportune way. All three skaters have been started heavily in the offensive zone (65.2% for Parise and Heatley, 62.5% for Koivu) and all have faced soft competition (CorsiRel QoC of around -2.0 to -2.1 for Parise and Heatley and -1.9 for Koivu.) The skaters have jumped on the opportunity and directed pucks on net–Corsi On right around 7 for the wingers and an astounding 19.05 for Koivu. Obviously the sample is small that that’s impressive. The line has looked very good to my eyes, but I see that they haven’t had great puck luck, the three have on ice Sh% just over 4. This line is absolutely driving the Wild offense right now with CorsiRel of 14.5-14.7 for Heatley and Parise, and 31.4 (!!) for Koivu. We’ll see how the coach continues to use the top line on the road, but if the team wants to make the playoffs, they’ll need to get some offense out of the rest of the roster, which brings us to…
Second Line: Cullen-Granlund-Setoguchi
I wrote earlier this week about how I don’t particularly like Cullen on this line, but I see why Yeo has him paired with Granlund. I hope Yeo mixes up the pairings as the season goes on so for now I’ll hold my tongue. This line has been getting the tough competition–CorsiRel QoC of 2.8 for Cullen, 3.0 for Seto, and 3.3 for Granlund! Their possession numbers are paying the price for it, Granlund has a CorsiOn of -4.5 but Cullen (-10.8) and Setoguchi (-13.9) are seeing the ice tilted against them quite severely. Mike Yeo seems to be sheltering Granlund (OZ Start 60%) for sure and Setoguchi a bit (54.5%) with Cullen getting the nod defensively (45.5%). Granlund and Setoguchi have had a bit better luck, but their on ice Sh% are still pretty low (5.88 Setoguchi, 6.667 Granlund, and a big fat goose egg for Cullen.) I’m sure these usage numbers will change as the sample gets larger but I’m surprised to see this line get the brunt of the tough minutes when I thought they would go to better-established two-way players like
Third Line: Bouchard-Brodziak-Clutterbuck
Brodziak and Clutterbuck have a rep for playing solid 200-ft games, so I’m a little surprised to see their middling competition numbers–Bouchard has 0.5 CorsiRelQoC and the others actually negative, though just barely. Bouchard and Clutterbuck have a CorsiOn just over 5 right now while Brodziak is seeing a lot of rubber flying his way, with a -13.3. All three have OZ Start% north of 50 (56.5 Brodziak, 59.1 Clutterbuck, and 61.9 Bouchard) but they are winding up at the other end of the ice–OZ finsih% approaching 40. No es bueno. I like the composition of this line with the three bringing different playstyles to the table, so perhaps they need some more time to gel, but I’ll be keeping an eye on this line because these early numbers point to them being somewhat of a liability.
I don’t really want to get into the fourth line of Powe-Mitchell-Konopka, but the only number I’ll point out is their on ice Sv% of .909 (TM, ZK) and .917 (DP). Ouch.
The Wild blue line is hurting right now, but Jonas Brodin is slated to get the start tonight against Detroit. Scandella is down in Houston but I liked what I saw from him last year so I hope they bring him up soon. Dumba has been practicing with the team but hasn’t seen game action yet–I’d bet the money in my wallet that they don’t burn a year of his ELC but I sure want to see him get a couple games.
Spurgeon and Suter have seen the toughest competition of the defensemen, though their CorsiRelQoC are only about 0.7 to 0.8. Their CorsiOn is not great though, -9.5 for Spurgeon and -16 for Suter. The goalies haven’t helped either, as Suter has an on ice Sv% at .900 and Spurgeon .889. It looks like Spurgeon has drawn a couple penalties, which is good to see, but until the blue line gets a little clearer I don’t think there’s too much to squeeze out of these numbers.
I’m gearing up for continuing my podcast this weekend, should have it ready by Monday–if you have fantasy hockey questions, send them to hashtaghockey [at] gee mail dot com or tweet me @Hashtag_Hockey. Thanks for reading!