Way back in the preseason, I wrote an article examining the impact of a new head coach to a hockey team. The bottom line was that teams improved by nearly 6 standings points on average, but Boudreau’s first two clubs improved by an outlandish 23.5 points on average. The Wild, of course, saw a massive jump in their own standings numbers compared to the previous season, jumping from 87 to 106 points. If it hadn’t been for the disastrous slump in March, the Wild likely would have reached, if not surpassed, the 20 point improvement mark. As it is, an increase of 19 points was a welcome sign that Chuck Fletcher found the best man available when he hired Boudreau.
Some other numbers that show the stark change in the Wild’s performance from last season to the inaugural season under Boudreau:
There may be a temptation to dismiss all of this with a wave of the hand and claiming that “nothing matters but the post-season”. To a degree, sure, it doesn’t matter how well you played during the regular season so long as you make it to the playoffs. Ultimately, every team is looking to take home the Cup. But it would be shortsighted to see how this team performed under Boudreau and not be encouraged. This team was a legitimate contender this year that ran into a hot team and a hot goalie. The pieces are there for this team to contend next season as well. Boudreau, and his staff, are a big reason for that.
Statistics courtesy of www.hockeyreference.com
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