Welp, another home game, another shutout. *Yawn.* Seriously though, I’m not taking anything for granted.
- Darcy Kuemper looked on POINT tonight yet again. He’s really learning to close that five-hole, and he’s also making much better use of his size compared to last year. He does that move where he lays on his belly and locks his ankle to the pipe when the puck goes to the side, and thanks to his long lets it’s quite an effective tactic.
- Also the team around him is doing a great job of shot suppression, and even with score effects in play tonight, they still did a good job of limiting the Yotes shots and particularly chances.
- The numbers will change after tonight’s game, and I know they haven’t had success on the power play but the important thing is they are getting shots. Everyone knows Puck Luck is a fickle mistress, and as long as they keep putting a high volume of shots on net, good things will happen. They showed a stat during tonight’s broadcast that basically said Minnesota is the only team that is averaging 2.25 shots on goal per PP, and also they are giving up the fewest shots against while on the PK. If they can keep it up, that’s an excellent way to put your club in a good position to win night in and night out is to have good special teams.
- Charlie Coyle looked good tonight, scoring the game’s opening goal after signing a three-year extension this morning. Coyle is still just 22 years old, so we’ll really have a good idea of what kind of player he is when his contract expires. Of course, if he develops and becomes a great asset, he will cost a pretty penny, but the team has put itself in a good position here. Coyle is still learning how to be an effective power forward in the NHL, and he seems to be shooting the puck more and becoming much more of a netfront presence. Look at tonight’s goal, he gets himself in front of Mike Smith and then makes a nice play to tip the puck into the net off a Jared Spurgeon shot. I checked out Coyle’s hex tally chart earlier today, and he gets his shots from way down low right near the crease. Again, he’s just 22 so he’s poised to really show what he can do these next three years.
- Check out this gorgeous possession chart from tonight’s game:
The first period was a tight defensive game where both teams were playing defense first and really feeling each other out. I credit Mike Yeo with a good coaching move, whatever he told the guys during the first intermission really worked because they jumped on the Yotes to the tune of two goals early in the second. Then, and here’s the key, that possession differential keeps up over the course of the rest of the game. Just two years ago the Wild would have completely sat back on their heels and turtled, but not tonight. They took the fight to Arizona for the rest of the game. Love to see that.
- Ryan Suter is your Corsi leader for the evening at +13. Not too shabby, particularly because he’s been dinged as having bad possession numbers since joining Minnesota. Erik Haula is last at -7, though Dumba was -5…I think his cup of coffee might be coming to a close and he may be sent back to Iowa to work on his game.
- BONUS: Jared Spurgeon does not give a shoot
Thanks for reading and make sure to follow me on Twitter, @BobaFenwick. Podcast released later tonight, look for it on iTunes!
The NHL schedulemakers are starting to remind me of those people in the Hunger Games that sat up in the room and Truman-styled everybody. They knew exactly what they were doing when they scheduled this home-and-home with the Avalanche. Truth be told, the series went pretty much just like the Playoff series from last year except the Avs forgot how to score. Obviously with just two games we can’t make any conclusions but the Wild played great defensively to my eyes. Colorado made some unforced errors, sure, but credit the Wild for posting a 69.6% Fenwick rate at evens over two games. (Tops in the league.) Maybe this is the year that the Wild are able to turn the corner and finish as a top possession team. Recall that they started white-hot in terms of possession for about the first two weeks of last season too. Again, we’ll have to see more of a sample size against more teams, but it looks like injuries may be the only thing that could slow this team down.
- I’m working on a post on Brodin that should go up Tuesday. He’s made a couple of really great plays this season. And it’s cliche but I really think it’s the type of thing that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet–just really athletic or reflexive plays that show his anticipation and ability to play effectively in the offensive zone.
- The Wild played just as well in the first period and a half as they did at home on Thursday. They battled hard to get a two-goal lead (though several other pucks very likely could have gone in) and then shifted to a defensive strategy. You can see on the chart how score effects shifted right as MIN scored the second goal…a beauty pass from Vanek to Zucker right in the slot. He pointed right at Vanek because he was the one to really create that goal. (P.S. war-on-ice has updated their database for 14-15. check it out! they’re adding more features all the time.)
- It’s no secret that I have no love for Semyon Varlamov. But after watching his team hang him out to dry for two straight games, I actually started to sympathize a bit. The Wild played very physically against the Avalanche, with the new tandems of Koivu and Vanek plus Coyle and Niederreiter cruising around…and then there’s Ryan Carter who dropped out of the sky. Varly looked rattled but still made a number of great saves, so I give him props there. But the Wild were just unrelenting. Check out Coyle’s stick get inside the mask of Varlamov after the goal that was overturned. Ouch.
To me, one of the great things about the current state of hockey analytics is that it’s constantly changing, constantly evolving. Pople think stats like Corsi and Fenwick and our interpretations of them are very entrenched…and to a certain extent they are. But having followed the fancy stats for a few years now, one of the best things about each new season is that it brings a new crop of stats, data, and visualizations. Now…this year the change has been necessary after Extra Skater got scooped up by the Leafs. One of my favorite new additions this year is these great hex charts they have over at war-on-ice. I wrote a nifty introductory piece a few weeks back which I am very proud to say I titled, “Who Charted!?” If you need a refresher, head over to that post.
I saw a really great article over at a Devils blog called In Lou We Trust by John Fisher. The post looked at the Pete DeBoer era of the last three seasons, and examined shot patterns and how they related to personnel or systems. As pointed out in the article (and as something you should know anyway as an advanced stats connoisseur,) the league’s X-Y data for recording shots is lousy at best. There have been many studies that show how unreliable the data is. Howeverrrrr…..it’s still really fun to look at, and we have a couple of tricks we can use to reduce the effects of that bias. So let’s look at the Wild under Minnesota’s longest tenured pro head coach Mike Yeo. All data below are from the start of the 2011-12 season through the end of the 2013-14 season, playoffs excluded, 5v5 only. Continue reading
Bob and Dan discuss the blazing start to the Minnesota Wild season. Granlund-Parise, Haula-Nino, and Jared Spurgeon are covered, then a couple teams that could surprise in the Central division this year. Plus, hockey birthdays and a Wait, What? on Chris Pronger.
The 2013-14 Minnesota Wild season is underway, and DAMN if they didn’t put on a show tonight. I’ll try to keep these post-game writeups largely the same as last year, but the fancy stats world got shaken up a bit by the departure of ExtraSkater. Thankfully, war-on-ice.com launched their brand new Game Log pages today, and they do look sharp. Just find the Games tab on the top nav bar of their site. Let’s look at the stats for tonight’ s whupping of the Avs. Continue reading
Earlier today, the fellas over at war-on-ice posted an article that talked about their player history and player comparison features. You can check out the post here. I figured I would dip my toes in with a look at the Wild’s top two centermen, Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund. Koivu has been a cornerstone of the franchise, and will be forever known as the first ever permanent captain of the team, wearing the “C” on his sweater since 2009. Granlund has taken great steps in his first two seasons, flashing the eye-popping playmaking ability that he has always been known for. Last year, he also showed that his physical game is improving, and he was not intimidated like he was in his rookie year. Let’s look at some of war on ice’s comparison tools as we examine Koivu and Granlund side by side. The following charts are for the last two seasons, and unless otherwise specified, all feature ten-game rolling averages. I also want to be clear that I’m just doing some exploratory research here… Continue reading
This week, Bob and Dan discuss Ilya Bryzgalov, Mario Lemieux, plus hockey birthdays and a Minnesota Wild fantasy hockey preview. And as always, #talkinbouthats.
They say preseason hockey is useless, but it provides us a precious small sample size from which to wildly speculate. So, won’t you join me as I fire up the Conjecture Machine? The Wild rolled over the Penguins (without Crosby or Malkin) earlier this week, and the new lines were on full display. The combination of Parise-Granlund-Pominville sure looked impressive, with Pommer ending up with a Natural Hat Trick (last was an empty netter). Let’s check the GIFs of the first two goals–the quality of these isn’t great but I’ll figure out how to get better ones as the season goes on so bear with me. Continue reading
Bob and Dan discuss Zach Parise and his newfound appreciation of the controlled zone entry, plus Josh Harding kicking and Jason Zucker fighting. Then, the discussion turns to television and music: Bojack Horseman, Spoon, Walk the Moon, Motion City Soundtrack, Benjamin Booker, Hippo Campus, and Pink Floyd.
I’ve watched Marco Scandella for three years now, and he seems to be developing slowly but surely to my eye. Since about the middle of last year, I have been meaning to look into his underlying numbers, because I think he could be a decent two-way player. I would say he’s a “solid NHL top-four defender,” but @Garik16 reminded me once that 67% of NHL blueliners are top-four so that’s not really saying much. However, I also think Marky Mark is one of those guys who’s been around for a while and you forget he’s still fairly young so you sort of forget about him. Continue reading