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  • Why Haven't the Wild Been As Successful At Home This Year?

    Luke Sims

    Remember in the prime Ryan Suter and Zach Parise era, when the Minnesota Wild were dominant at home? They could not wait to play in front of their fans and the rocking Xcel Energy Center. Even last year, the Wild were 31-8-2 at home. But they are 13-8-1 this year, so what has happened to their success at the X?


    From 2013-14 to 2017-18, the Wild went 123-57-25 with a ridiculous 72% point percentage when playing at home. However, those teams only won one playoff round before going through a retool that eventually brought Kevin Fiala, Kirill Kaprizov, and Matt Boldy into the fray.


    With the Suter and Parise regime out the door last year, the Wild rekindled that overwhelming success at home by winning over 30 games and only losing eight in regulation. They also finished fifth in the NHL and second in the Central, so they were not too shabby on the road, either.


    This season?


    The NHL average for home winning percentage is .590%. The Wild are only marginally better on home ice than the NHL average and their performance on the road. The Wild have 27 points at home and 27 on the road this year. They have a slightly better winning percentage at .614% at home and .587% on the road. The difference is one more win at the X and two more overtime losses away.


    Their power play has been lethal at home. The Wild cash in more than 30% of the time, which would rank among the Top-5 in the NHL. But they only convert 19% of the time on the road. Strangely, they’re better at killing penalties on the road, though. The Wild penalty kill is barely over 75% at home, Bottom-10 in the league. But they kill almost 82% of power plays on the road.


    They have a 52% goal for percentage at home and a 50% goal for percentage on the road. Both of these stats are middle-of-the-road compared to the rest of the league. However, the Wild play a little tighter at home, shooting just over 30 shots per game and letting up just over 29. They shoot over 32 shots per game on the road and let up 30.5 shots. In short, the Wild are not dramatically different on the road or at home this season. The only really noticeable stat is the dramatic jump in power play percentage at home vs. away this season. Otherwise, they are playing pretty similarly.


    So what has changed?


    Well, apart from the hockey gods choosing to spite the Wild for various reasons, there is no glaring reason that the Wild have not played as well at home this season.


    You win hockey games by putting the puck in the net more than other teams. The Wild have been doing that, but good Wild teams of the past all potted the puck at a strong rate. From 2014 to 2018, the Wild finished 14th, 6th, 14th, 1st, and 8th, respectively. All marks were at the top or at least in the top half of the league. In the last two years, the Wild have finished 2nd and 1st in shooting percentage.


    So far this year, Minnesota has struggled to shoot the puck efficiently. They sit at 22nd in the league when it comes to shooting percentage and 25th in goals per hour. The offense has not been consistent outside Kaprizov, and the Wild have had improved goaltending, not necessarily improved defense.


    Losing a dynamite scorer like Kevin Fiala was always going to hurt Minnesota’s offense. Everyone knew that. But was he enough to bury the Wild’s shooting percentage? Not entirely.


    The Wild dominated at home by shooting the puck effectively in front of their home fans. However, Minnesota has seen regressions in shooting percentage from many of their players, like Marcus Foligno, Ryan Hartman, and Boldy. The defensive effort has not been as consistent, and the team has been injured during the first half of the season.


    The Wild struggled to find their identity for a large part of the beginning of the season, and they have not been consistent on offense, defense, or in the net. I believed they were rounding into form, but recently they have lost the cushion they had in the Central division with some poor play on the road.


    The Wild better hope they regain their offensive form from past years if they hope to contend in the wide-open Western Conference. Especially when they start coming home.


    All stats via Evolving Hockey or Statmuse unless otherwise noted.

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