Damned Lies and Statistics: Marco Scandella ($20M/5 yrs) may be the best blueliner on the Minnesota Wild

Back in September, I wrote about how I thought Marco Scandella could help the Wild take a big step forward this year if he continued to develop his game. Like many other fans, I have certainly enjoyed watching him have his breakout season, firing bombs from the blue line, jumping into the rush, and various other what-have-yous. Scandella’s improvement is definitely helping the Wild try to take the next step this year, and while he has been getting some coverage in the media lately, I have wanted to really dive into his underlying stats to look at just how important he is to this team, particularly as he gets ready to re-join the club for their final playoff push. Continue reading Damned Lies and Statistics: Marco Scandella ($20M/5 yrs) may be the best blueliner on the Minnesota Wild

Hashtag Hockey Podcast ep. 38 – The Goalie as “Just the sixth man out there”

In this episode, Bob and Dan discuss the Minnesota Wild’s acquisition of four players during this season, including Devan Dubnyk, Sean Bergenheim, Jordan Leopold, and Chris Stewart. The guys talk about whether the goalie is “just the sixth man out there” and how a team plays psychologically when they get a new netminder. Plus, hockey birthdays, craft beer, and a super brief music recommendation.

Damned Lies & Statistics: Sean Bergenheim has quite the fancy stats resume

Here’s what I know about Sean Bergenheim: He’s Finnish and thirty years old, he has never cracked 20 goals in the NHL, nor has he eclipsed 200 shots on goal in a season, and he recently requested to be traded out of Florida. That’s everything I know, and it took me about thirty seconds to check his wikipedia page. From there, I went to another site you might be familiar with, ownthepuck.blogspot.com, and brought up Bergenheim’s HERO chart, which represents a player’s usage-adjusted stats over the last few years. (For a refresher, check out my recent posts on the topic.) I didn’t quite believe what I was seeing, so I rebooted my desktop and my modem just to be sure. When I came back, this is what I saw: Continue reading Damned Lies & Statistics: Sean Bergenheim has quite the fancy stats resume

Snap Shots: One #MNWild chart to see after tonight’s win against #FlaPanthers – playoff odds, last year and this year

The Wild played their third game in four nights tonight against the Florida Panthers, after playing back-to-backs on Monday and Tuesday. While we were arguing about whether it was a success to collect three points against the Canucks and Jets, the club was back out on home ice against the upstart Panthers. Minnesota got the win, but it was like watching a mirror match, as both teams played a heavy dump and chase game. As the great philosopher Hubert J. Farnsworth opined, “Perfectly symmetrical violence never solved anything!” Continue reading Snap Shots: One #MNWild chart to see after tonight’s win against #FlaPanthers – playoff odds, last year and this year

Snap Shots: Dubnyk’s first ten vs. Kuemper’s first ten

Disclaimer: This post was written prior to the Winnipeg Jets overtime loss on 2/10/15.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Darcy Kuemper just fine. When he was playing well and they were trying to put the silly “Kuemperor” moniker on him, who stood up for Mister Darcy the Gentleman Goaltender? ME! There’s no two ways about it, though, he’s just not able to be an impact performer consistently enough for the team to rely on him right now. He had some great games this year (anyone remember his first handful of starts?) How easily we forget.

After being traded to the team and stringing together his own ten starts with the Minnesota Wild, there can be no denying that one guy has made the difference in turning around the season: Devan Dubnyk. He’s played out of his mind since joining the club, including back-to-back shutouts that earned him first star of the week honors. There’s talk of re-signing him past this year, which I don’t think would be a bad idea–as we’ve seen, all it takes is a steady goaltender for this team to realize their potential. I don’t want to throw shade necessarily, but I do want to temper some expectations for Dubnyk’s continued play. I do admit, I started this post several days ago as a caution against jumping to conclusions…but Dubnyk has continued his above-average play, and it’s clear he’s given the rest of the team a shot to the arm.

Here’s a quick infographic I put together comparing Kuemper’s and Dubnyk’s first ten starts. If you need a refresher on Quality Starts, “In order to record a Quality Start, the starting goalie must stop at least a league average number of shots (typically 91.3% prior to 2009-10, and 91.7% since), or play at least as well as a replacement-level goalie (88.5%) while allowing two goals or fewer.”

Dubnyk vs Kuemper Copy

For as great as Kuemper’s first games were this year, looking back on them now, they don’t hold up quite as well…and certainly when compared to what Dubnyk has done. Your eyes are not deceiving you–Dubnyk’s even-strength save percentage was in fact higher than his overall save percentage. This is a sure sign of regression–no goaltender can keep up those numbers. Dubnyk’s four shutouts eclipsed Kuemper’s three shutouts, but a better stat to look at is quality starts. Kuemper only put together 5 quality starts in his first ten games, while Dubnyk has been more consistent, with 7 QS in his first 10 games. While Dubnyk has played outstanding, the Wild really just need a consistent backstop. I will continue to monitor Dubnyk’s quality start numbers, as solid, consistent goaltending is what Minnesota needs more than anything else if they hope to make the playoffs.

Overall, Dubnyk has been somewhat of a revelation for a team that was completely in a free fall before the All Star break–they won six games in a row to catapult them right back into the Wild Card race. No doubt his future will be decided based on how well he plays down the stretch and the eventual fate of this club this season, but for as well as he’s played this year, the signs point to an extension for Dubnyk, who has almost single-handedly rescued the Wild season.

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!

#MNWild week in review 2/2/15 – 2/8/15: Can’t, won’t, don’t stop

The great thing about hockey (all sports really, but moreso the ones with seasons less than 100 games) is that they are so dynamic. There’s a saying that goes “You can’t predict baseball” and really, it should apply to hockey as well. Who could have predicted that after the awful stretch the Wild went through in December and particularly January, that they would be able to rekindle the high-octane team that came blazing out of the gates to start the year? Minnesota continued its winning ways this week, with two huge victories against two division opponents. A check of the standings puts the Wild at ninth in the Western conference, and wouldn’t you know it if their next two games are against the next two teams they need to leapfrog, Vancouver and Winnipeg. Let’s check out the wins from last week.
Continue reading #MNWild week in review 2/2/15 – 2/8/15: Can’t, won’t, don’t stop

Snap Shots: One chart to see before tonight’s #MNWild vs #Avalanche game

Nothing sparks a rivalry like a hard-fought postseason series, so it’s no surprise that Wild fans circle Avalanche games on the schedule. Since Nino Niederreiter’s Game-7 overtime winner, Minnesota and Colorado have taken different paths to puck possession, although they find themselves having taken a similar path to the “outside-looking-in” playoff bubble to this point. Here’s a look at the two teams’ 10-game rolling Corsi% since the first game of the year. (Which, if you recall, was a 5-0 demolition at the Excel Energy center.) Continue reading Snap Shots: One chart to see before tonight’s #MNWild vs #Avalanche game

Damned Lies and Statistics: Vanek a worse than a replacement level defender, and Granlund a one-dimensional but elite playmaker?

Today, I’m continuing my look at the Wild forwards’ ranks in terms of usage adjusted possession, scoring, and today, individual shooting. Check out my recent post for a description of the data. Recently, I looked at the Zucker-Koivu-Pominville line, and today I’m moving to another line that has some serious potential if they can get some chemistry developed. Continue reading Damned Lies and Statistics: Vanek a worse than a replacement level defender, and Granlund a one-dimensional but elite playmaker?

#MNWild week in review 1/26/15 – 2/1/15: Playoffs odds jump to 15%

The Wild came back from the All-Star break with a monumental task in front of them in terms of making the playoffs. With such a lousy December and early January, Minnesota’s playoff odds after losing to the Red Wings last week sat at just over 6%. More importantly to my mind, they have four teams to pass in the standings, and that’s just to make the 8-seed and win the right to get destroyed by Chicago, Anaheim, or upstart Nashville. Things are looking dire, there’s no two ways about it. BUT, this is the same team that pulled themselves up from a terrible spot last year and not only made the second season, but made the second round. In the immortal words of Lloyd Christmas…”So you’re saying there’s a chance!!”

Jan 27 @ Edmonton: 2-1 Wild

5v5 Goals Shots Corsi Penalties Faceoffs
Wild 2 25 55 2 19
Oilers 1 18 47 1 28

In the first of a three-game road trip through the old Northwest division (ah, memories…), the Wild generally did a good job handling the lowly Oilers and earned a regulation win thanks to a capital-B BEAUTY of a goal by Charlie Coyle. If you haven’t seen the highlight, you owe it to yourself to take a minute and check it out.

Coyle scooped up a neutral zone turnover and appeared to skate wide of the net before tucking it back at the literal last possible moment and sneaking it over the goal line. It was a great goal, and certainly what we would classify as a “NO NO, GO GO!” play. Coyle has not really made huge strides forward this season but he has flashed some of the size/speed/handles combination that the club undoubtedly wants to see more of. Nino Niederreiter scored the other goal of the game for Minnesota, planting himself right in front of the goal and collecting a neat little feed off another Oilers turnover. The Wild have looked a bit better on the forecheck this week, so let’s look for more of that as they close out the season.

Jan 29 @ Calgary: 1-0 Wild

5v5 Goals Shots Corsi Penalties Faceoffs
Wild 1 32 55 1 28
Flames 0 26 57 1 28


Devan Dubnyk stole the show in this game, though Jonas Hiller did everything he possibly could to keep the Flames in this game. This one could have easily been 2 or 3 goals for the Wild if not for Hiller. Although, on the other hand, Calgary put up a good fight after about the first period, and Minnesota looked a little too passive to me. Credit Calgary for fighting back but the Wild looked like they were trying not to lose as opposed to trying to win. But, another regulation win means another two points in the standings. There were more than a couple defensive breakdowns late in the game, as the Flames got themselves two separate 1-on-0 breakaways that Dubnyk thankfully saved, and right down to the final horn Calgary attempted desperately to tie the game.

Minnesota has not played as well lately but they are still the best team in the league at shot suppression (26.9 shots against per game, 1st) so to be honest, if Dubnyk can keep up his solid performance, the Wild will certainly pick up some points in the standings. Whether it will be enough to make the postseason remains to be seen, but winning their first two games back after the All-Star Break is certainly putting their best foot forward. I’ll update this post tonight to include the Canucks game (three hours before the Super Bowl, good job good effort scheduling guys.)

Feb 1 @ Vancouver: 4-2 Wild

5v5 Goals Shots Corsi Penalties Faceoffs
Wild 2 15 26 3 23
Flames 2 25 42 3 22

The Wild came out rather flat-footed to start this game, and did not register many shots on goal. But, they made their opportunities count and played some solid defense to leg out a 3-0 lead midway through the third period. They had a goal waved off which was probably the right call, but if they had let it stand this game may have been very different. Vancouver scored two goals in the span of a minute, the first on a snap shot through the five hole, and the second on a very clever goal by Daniel “Shooty” Sedin, assisted by Radim Vrbata and Henrik “Passy” Sedin.

In today’s NHL, teams can close gaps on you in a hurry! The Wild have collapsed in a number of games just like this one, but they effectively played a bend-don’t-break style, and it paid off. Thomas Vanek’s game winner is exactly what the Wild need to do more of: a shot off a controlled zone entry, not an extra pass, not skating down the boards and feeding the puck to the center. The Wild do a nice bit of forechecking, and just as it looks that Vancouver is going to break through, a costly turnover in the neutral zone ends up on Vanek’s stick. He’s got Granlund streaking in, but he opts to shoot and he buries a great-looking slapshot, bar down.

The Wild’s playoff chances jumped up a full 5.7% after today’s game, to 17.8%. Up next, a pair of Conference III opponents, with Chicago and Colorado  coming to town, before another Canucks matchup rounding out the home stand. Minnesota still has a lot of climbing to do if they want to have a shot at the postseason, but they can only play the team in front of them. An extra day of rest should help this week, and if Dubnyk can continue his solid play, then maybe…just mayyybeeee, this team could make some noise.

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!

Damned Lies and Statistics: #MNWild Jason “Bad Mother” Zucker is a better goal scorer than Ovi, Tavares!?

I strongly believe you don’t need to throw out a lot of numbers to understand a data set. That’s why I like visualizations so much…the better ones are on some level simply intuitive when you look at them, like the decreasingly popular player usage charts–they present a lot of data but they aren’t straining to look at.

Well, wouldn’t you know it if a cool new viz popped up on the interwebs today! It was developed by a guy named Domenic Galamini, a teenager from Ontario who has done some really cool other visualizations lately. Basically, all he did was grab some data from two of the big stat databases, war-on-ice and puckalytics, and throw them into Tableau. Continue reading Damned Lies and Statistics: #MNWild Jason “Bad Mother” Zucker is a better goal scorer than Ovi, Tavares!?