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  • 2011-12 Minnesota Wild Compared to Past Teams: Which is a Better Comparison?


    These two teams are constantly brought up as teams that outplayed their talent, beating teams they shouldn't beat, and having similar fancy stats as the Wild. The problem we have found with this line of reasoning is that those Stars and Avalanche teams saw their success slip much sooner than the Wild of today. To me, that suggests that something else is different between the teams. Maybe even something that cannot be quantified.

    Perhaps, a new comparison is needed. We'll try that, too.

    There will, no doubt, be debate and stats thrown around in the comment section. We present this not as a critique of the stats, but simply as a counter point to be considered.

    The Tired Comparison

    Here is how the teams stack up:


    The first thing that jumps out is number of games played by the Avs at this point in their season, compared to the points they had earned. Four more games played, and one fewer point. This was good for just seventh in the league, and fourth in the West. Clagary had passed them for the division lead, and the slide was in full effect.

    The Stars of last season are a slightly better comparison, having played just one fewer games, but still sitting with seven fewer points. Last time I checked, there are no seven point games in the NHL. Their record was good for seventh in the league, due mainly to tie breakers, as there were six teams tied with 36 points at this point in the season.

    In other words, both of the teams the doubters love to point to had fewer points in the same or more games played, were ranked six or seven spots lower in the league than the current Wild team, and were winning a smaller percentage of points available.

    Somehow, the comparisons don't seem to fit anymore. Regardless of what happened to those two teams, the current Wild team has had more success for a longer period of time. Time for this line of thinking to die.

    Better Comparison

    As a replacement, let's look at the teams that were, in fact, at the top of the NHL for the past 20 years:


    Looking at this comparison, not only should Wild fans be confident in their teams' ability to continue this through to the end, they should likely buy some season ticket packages to secure playoff priority.

    Now, granted, the playoff results are a mixed bag. There are four Stanley Cup Champions, one Stanley Cup runner-up, two trips to the conference finals, five to the conference semi finals, and seven first round exits. But that's the playoffs. The same Stanley Cup playoffs that make heroes out of normal men, and make President's Trophy winners look stupid.

    Six teams in the last 20 years have been first on December 12 and finished first in the league. Another six have finished first in their conference. Three finished second, one third, two fourth, and one each in sixth and seventh.

    Maybe someone in the advanced stats world can tell us how each of the teams listed above looks compared to this year's Wild, maybe they don't care. I don't. The PDO, Corsi, Relative Corsi, etc of each of these teams may provide some insight. Maybe they won't.

    The point here is, with the Wild in first place in the league on December 12th, past performance of the league says they have a pretty good shot at continuing that success through to the end of the season.

    (Note: Historical data provided by ShrpSports and NHL.com)

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