^^Having trouble embedding NHL videos into my blog so here’s the link.
Just a few thoughts on the first three games of the Minnesota Wild season so far–plus the start of a recurring column looking at Wild team possession stats.
- How much time does it take to turn a Quality Start into a non-Quality Start? For Niklas Backstrom on Tuesday night, it took about seven minutes. Backs played a great game though two periods and change, and then Martin Erat was the beneficiary of a botched 4-on-4 pass from Parise intended for Spurgeon, and Erat was off to the races. Backstrom skated waaaayyy out to the top of the circles and Erat mercifully decided not to go full-Lucic, but Backs mishandled the puck and it turned into a goal. Crappy play but honestly I’m just glad there was no collision and no injury. Backstrom is not the most durable goalie in the world and I’m not quite sure what he was trying to accomplish there. But at that point it was 2-1 against and the Quality Start was preserved even though the team found themselves behind late in the game. I normally try not to target guys from my hometown team on my fantasy squads, but Backstrom was there in like the 18th round so I picked him up. Of course I wanted the Wild to come back and win but I was also aware of Backstrom’s stats, so real late in the game I knew they would give him the hook and he would get tagged with just over a 2 GAA. But then good ol’ Pierre-Marc Bouchard gets called with a questionable slashing call and Mike Yeo has to put Backstrom back in for the PK, and he promptly gave up his third goal of the night with like 17 seconds on the clock. His final line was 0-1, .885 Sv% and 3.03 GAA. I’m not sure I would call it a choke job by Backs because that was just a weird fluky play that never should have happened, but as a proponent of Quality Starts, I feel like his final line wasn’t reflective of how well he played for 53 minutes, but that’s why they play 60.
- So this Zach Parise guy is prettay, pretttaayy good. I’m sure I’ll examine the Koivu-Parise-Heatley line in the near future, but for now I want to mention the club’s second- and third-lines, though they don’t really look like a clear no. 2 and no. 3 but sort of a hodge podge, with Granlund centering Cullen and Setoguchi on the “second” and Brodziak (YOU’RE MY BOY BLUE) playing the pivot between Bouchard and Clutterbuck on the third. Granlund is looking sharp, he’s a fantastic puck mover and at least so far, he knows how to avoid contact so hopefully he won’t get lit up. I see the value of putting him on a line with Cullen–Granlund could learn a lot from a vet like that but I don’t really think Cullen belongs on that second line. Setoguchi looks great, too. I heard a story about how he got hit by a truck before last season so I’m really liking how he’s played coming in to this year fresh. And the Brodziak-Bouchard-Clutterbuck line is definitely interesting to watch–three guys with three different skill sets but they seem to have good chemistry. Hopefully that line is something that will work out and stay together to do some damage. Brodziak and Clutterbuck are really good two-way players and they have the ability to turn defense into quick offense.
- Obviously, it’s WAAAY too early to put any meaning into these figures, but I’ll be tracking the Wild’s Fenwick and PDO in this space. As of now, the Wild have played three games with a Fenwick in their favor (.556 vs COL, .526 vs DAL, .513 vs NSH) for a total Fenwick of .533 which is promising. Yeah, Parise is good, I think I mentioned that. I just pulled these numbers myself from game reports and that figure is all-game Fen, not 5v5.
- PDO, on the other hand, is limited to even-strength, and the club has been playing well but you can’t say they’ve been lucky. Their PDO is right at a normal level, (1.003 vs COL, 1.036 vs DAL, 0.955 vs NSH) for a total PDO of 0.992. I’ll chart these numbers probably starting next week, with just three games a visual look wouldn’t really be anything to look at.
- I am proud to say I started a fantasy hockey podcast last week, and while I’ll get more into analysis for this season, for the very first few pods I wanted to share some tools that the savvy fantasy player should have in his/her toolbox for smart analysis of players. Episode 1 covers goalie stats, specifically even-strength Sv% as a better indicator of goalie play, and why Quality Starts are better than just W-L record. Check it out!
Thanks for reading, and make sure to follow me on Twitter, @Hashtag_Hockey. Until next time!