10-28-14 at boston

Wild Game Recap: 10-28-14 at Boston – Turning the tables

Question: How does a team get the bad taste of a third period comeback loss out of their mouth? Answer: Go out and complete your own third period comeback win. Great determination tonight by the Wild, overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the third period against a Boston team that doesn’t look nearly as good as they have in recent seasons. The first two periods were very even in terms of possession, but toward the end of the second period, even as they gave up the third goal against, the Wild were in the process of putting their foot on the accelerator. Let’s go straight to the game chart: Continue reading

game fen chart wild at rangers 10-27-14

Wild Game Recap: 10-27-14 at Rangers – Escape From New York

Welp. That game was a sight to see. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team give up five goals in a period, let alone five in the *third* period. I’d written previously about how the team seemed to be finishing out games differently this year compared to last year, but the start to the game was so crazy it’s hard to sort out what to focus on from this game.

The Wild are officially in a slump on the PP, as they received TWO MAJOR PENALTIES in the second period in addition to a couple more minor penalties, and came out with exactly zero point zero goals. I believe I counted sixteen straight power play minutes, and they just looked disorganized on the man advantage. And I think when they did get it together, they are collectively gripping their sticks too hard, they seem to be pressing and forcing things through. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that they won’t continue this scoreless PP streak through the whole season, but let’s have an idea out there, eh fellas! THUMBSUPLETSGOOOO Continue reading

Hashtag Hockey Podcast episode 33: This is the window

Bob discusses the Slava Voynov situation and why it’s important for people, especially dudes, not to hide from the issue of domestic violence. Then, on a lighter note, Ben Scrivens and Jimmy Howard’s masks raise awareness for important issues and local foundations (like the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta http://www.schizophrenia.ab.ca/). Dan joins the show to run down the Wild’s recent surge of offense, whether Vanek and Koivu are the best combination, the Coyle extension, and Kuemper’s scorching start.

wild vs ari 10-23-14

Wild Game Notes: 10-23-14 vs Arizona Coyotes

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:

wild vs ari 10-23-14
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

spurgeon streaking in vs ARI

Thanks for reading and make sure to follow me on Twitter, @BobaFenwick. Podcast released later tonight, look for it on iTunes!


Wild Game Recap 10-11-14 at Colorado – Your place or mine?

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.


wild under yeo all shots

Damned Lies and Statistics -The Minnesota Wild shooting tendencies under Mike Yeo

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

Hashtag Hockey Podcast episode 32 – Wild vs Avs: plus ca change, et cetera

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.

Wild Game Notes: 10-9-14 vs Colorado Avalanche–The Shellacking

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

koivu granlund toi

Koivu vs Granlund: Finnish Face-off

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