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  • What Can John Hynes Do To Get the Most Out of the Wild?

    Image courtesy of © Brad Rempel - USA TODAY Sports
    Kalisha Turnipseed


    The Minnesota Wild officially have a new coaching staff after firing head coach Dean Evason and assistant coach Bob Woods. General manager Bill Guerin immediately hired John Hynes, who has coached the New Jersey Devils (2015-2020) and Nashville Predators (2020-2023). The Wild were one of the NHL’s worst teams in the first quarter of the season, but now they get a fresh start. Will a coaching change make a difference not only in the regular season but also in the playoffs? Yes, because Hynes can construct a team capable of beating anybody. 

    Let's start with team stats, starting with their performance at even strength. 

    After beating the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday, the Wild are: 

    • 5th in the NHL in high-danger goal percentage (HDGF%) of 57.78% at even strength. 
    • 8th in the NHL in high-danger save percentage (HDSV%) of 83.33% at even strength. 
    • 13th in the NHL in expected goals for percentage (xGF%) of 51.13%. 
    • 21st in the NHL in goals for percentage (GF%) of 47.87%. 
    • 24th in the NHL in save percentage (SV%) of 89.51% at even strength. 

    The Wild are excellent at converting high-danger chances. However, their goals percentage is disappointing because they score 6.65% below expected. They're a good team defending high-danger areas. However, they need to work on their overall SV%. 

    On the power play, the Wild are:

    • 9th in the NHL in expected goals-for percentage (xGF%) with 90.86%. 
    • 12th in NHL in HDGF% (87.50%). 
    • 19th in NHL in HDGF% (83.33%). 
    • 27th in the NHL in shots percentage (SH%) with 8.57%.
    • 28th in the NHL in GF% with 75%. 

    The Wild have been disappointing with the man advantage. They're expected to convert on 90.86% of their chances but scored 15.86% below expected. Their shooting percentage is nearly dead last in the league. They need to convert their chances better. 

    On the penalty kill, the Wild are:

    • 26th in the NHL in SV% (81.75%). 
    • 32nd in the NHL in HDSV% (58.82%). 

    They need to convert their even strength HDSV% to the penalty kill. If Hynes can get the Wild to protect scoring areas better, they'll improve. 

    The Wild are trying to find consistency in their game. Hynes needs to construct a lineup with a mix of skill and grittiness. Starting with the top line. Patrick Maroon is the 1st candidate because he leads forwards in 1st assists with 6. A big forward who can do a blend of everything, Maroon is a valuable veteran presence for the Wild. Joel Eriksson Ek leads Minnesota’s forwards with 48 shots. Thanks to his stellar two-way play, Eriksson Ek has been one of the team’s most consistent forwards. These two get to join Kirill Kaprizov, the best player when he’s at his best, on the first line. 

    Marco Rossi has been another player who’s been consistent, and he’s cementing himself as a regular. He starts the 2nd line. He leads forwards in SH% with 19.35%. He’s 2nd in goals for percentage (GF%) with 57.14% for forwards. His expected goals for percentage (xGF%) is 52.22%, which is 7th for forwards. That means Rossi has scored 4.92% above expected. 

    Rossi's performance should jumpstart Matt Boldy, who desperately needs momentum. He's 4th in xGF% at 53.30% but 10th in GF% with 38.89, which is horrible. Scoring 14.41% below expected. If Marcus Foligno leads the team in GF% of 68.75 compared to Boldy’s GF%, then you know Boldy is playing poorly. 

    Ryan Hartman deserves to be in the top-six more than Marcus Johansson. He plays with more sandpaper and works harder than Johansson. Not to mention, he also adds some offensive flair to his game. He’s 3rd in high-danger goals-for percentage (HDGF%) of 68.75 for forwards. He’s 3rd in shots with 35 for forwards. He may not be as fast as Johansson, but he’s been more consistent. 

    Mats Zuccarello gets to spread the depth around, starting in the bottom six. That’s how Hynes can monitor his minutes. Dewar needs a jolt offensively, and Zuccarello is capable of helping him out thanks to his shooting and playmaking abilities. Zuccarello’s 4th in shots with 34. He’s 6th in HDGF% of 61.11%. Dewar’s 12th in GF% of 30.77%. On the positive side, his HDGF% is 75%, 2nd for forwards.

    Johansson can regain his mojo by playing alongside Zuccarello and Dewar, which should make for an exciting line. Johansson is 8th in shots with 19 for forwards; ideally, he’d shoot more under Hynes. Johansson’s HDGF% is 55.56, which is 8th for forwards. He’s still above average for the Wild scoring on their high-danger chances. With these changes, Johnasson should play consistently, and the Wild have a top-nine capable of giving opponents many headaches. Finally, you have the 4th line consisting of Marcus Foligno, Freddy Gaudreau, and Brandon Duhaime. Vinni Lettieri is the 13th forward. 

    Hynes should keep the same defensive pairings. Jonas Brodin, Brock Faber, Jake Middleton, and Jared Spurgeon should remain in the top four, with Zach Bogosian as the 5th defenseman. Jon Merrill and Alex Goligoski will rotate as the 6th defenseman, but it would be nice to have Dakota Mermis instead of them. He’s 4th among defensemen in blocked shots, with 17, and 5th in On-Ice save percentage (On-Ice SV%) of 90.82%. For a minor league defenseman, he’s regularly showing his defensive value. 

    Here’s where special teams get interesting. The best shot generators at even strength get to be on the power play. The top unit consists of Eriksson Ek, Kaprizov, Boldy, Hartman, and Faber. The next unit consists of Gaudreau, Zuccarello, Rossi, Maroon, and Brodin. Each player plays their role accordingly. 

    Hartman takes Eriksson Ek’s place and starts as the net front pest. Hartman is too good of an agitator not to be placed here. Many goalies must be agitated and chirped at because it causes chaos and scoring opportunities. Eriksson Ek moves to the bumper position, where he can utilize his shot more and cause deflections on net. 

    Kaprizov and Boldy are the quarterbacks of the top unit. Their job will be to get pucks to Eriksson Ek and Hartman because they’ll clean up the garbage. Faber is going to have his game elevated more. He’s currently 2nd in shots with 24 for defensemen. He’s going to pile up many assists just by playing smart hockey. Faber is an elite skater, and his defensive awareness is good. 

    Maroon gets to be the agitating pest on the next unit. He’s bigger than Hartman and has some silky mitts, too. That makes Gaudreau the bumper because he has an above-average shot to get pucks on net. Zuccarello and Rossi are the quarterbacks who are responsible for getting pucks to Gaudreau and Maroon. Brodin leads defensemen in shots with 34 and is tied with Zuccarello in shots. His brilliant skating and stellar defensive awareness should make up for a dangerous unit. 

    The veteran players Minnesota extended in the offseason get to highlight the penalty-killing units. Zuccarello, Foligno, and Hartman are the team’s best shot-blocking forwards. Their job will be to block shots and clear pucks out. They will initiate a forecheck but don’t play to score unless an opportunity presents itself. Eriksson Ek, Brodin, Middleton, Spurgeon, and Faber are the rest of the penalty killers. Now Hynes has a penalty kill to clog up shooting and passing lanes. 

    We are entering a new era of Wild hockey. This is Hynes' team now, and he needs to get the most out of his group. Hynes’ arrival needs to be the turning point of the season where the team not only finds more consistency at even strength but also special teams, making them more effective. More structured. Minnesota has the potential to be better than what they were under Evason. Is Hynes the right replacement? We’re about to find out.

    All stats via NaturalStatTrick.com.


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    I’m sure he will take them to the most Minnesota Wild finish of all which will be a bubble playoff team and us drafting in the 15-20 range like we usually do.

    Edited by TCMooch
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    Patrick Maroon is the 1st candidate because he leads forwards in 1st assists with 6.

    I'm not quite sure I agree with this article. After last nights game against the Preds, they sure look they got their energy back and the PK has been stellar, 8 for 8 in the last two games. Gus Bus is looking more relaxed and confident. The D is playing better in front of him by blocking shots and timely clears. The PP even looks better even though they only went 1 for 5 in that same time span. They have been moving the puck and getting good looks. The tempo that the guys are playing with is something that had been rarely shown this season and I like it! They are scoring goals again.

    I'm still wondering why only Evanson and Woods were relieved of their duties and the rest of the coaching staff stays put? Maybe to have some input on the system that the team plays with (Communication)? The D has been playing poorly so Bob had to go as well is my thought.

    Whatever happened in the locker room and on the ice since the firing is quite noticeable. "Keep it up Boys!"

    Consistency needs to be priority!!!

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    5 hours ago, Backwoodsbob said:

    The D has been playing poorly so Bob had to go as well is my thought.

    I think the PK was the main thing. Woods was in charge of the PK and defense. BG said that he offered to fire Woods last year but DE was adamantly against it so he did not. Ultimately that may have been what caused DE his job. He was admirably loyal to his assistant coaches.

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    1 hour ago, Up North Guy said:

    I think the PK was the main thing. Woods was in charge of the PK and defense. BG said that he offered to fire Woods last year but DE was adamantly against it so he did not. Ultimately that may have been what caused DE his job. He was admirably loyal to his assistant coaches.

    I was thinking the same here.

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    I'm curious to see how the penalty kill continues to perform under Heinie.  Game one was against the Worst PP in the league and game 2 against his former team, so he has some insight against them.  I was absolutely loving how they were stopping them on the entry versus Nashville .  I hope to see more of it in future games. 

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