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  • Why the Wild Failed, and How do we Fix It?


    Yes, just as every morning the Sun will rise, every Wild playoff appearance the past few seasons has ended with the Blackhawks bouncing the Wild from the second season. It's becoming a little tiresome wouldn't you agree?

    With all the drama surrounding the Wild and Hawks playoff meetings, life would seem to be just a little bit simpler if we didn't have to see them at all this go around (thanks Nashville. You had 1 job to do...)

    Part of the Wild's problem when running into the Blackhawks has been some historically poor PP time. Given the Wild's sseason long PP struggles, I wouldn't pretend to think this will be a difference maker for the Wild. Not seeming to be able to figure out how to crack an oppositions PK with the first PP is maddening to watch. A decent PP would be a welcome change however.

    In the 2013 campaign, the Wild managed to go 0/17 on the PP against the Hawks, and even gave up a shorty. In 2014, just 2/17 on the PP. Overall, a mark of 2/34 gets you (and hold on to your seats, big number alert) a whopping 5.9% conversion on the PP in 2 playoff series against the Hawks.

    The Blackhawks were not exactly lighting it up on the PP either, but they definitely were no slouch with the extra attacker. In 2013 they were just 2/13. In 2014 they posted an improved mark of 3/13. Overall, 5/26 in 2 postseasons against the Wild, good for 19.2% conversion over those 2 post seasons. By comparison, the Hawks have definitely outplayed the Wild with the extra attacker.

    Now the Wild might not be able to improve on their PP numbers by much, but if they can manage to not break so often on the kill, it would go a long way towards helping get this monkey off their back. With the Wild killing penalties a touch over 86% this season, it's not tough to make the argument that we should expect the Wild to bring this stifling PK to this series.

    Continuing with the numbers game, we can examine the fancier side of the argument against the Hawks in the past 2 post seasons.

    While the numbers do improve, pretty vastly in some areas when you compare both post seasons side by side, they do not offer me much comfort in believing the Wild will indeed improve on these too much against a proven playoff powerhouse like the Blackhawks again. Luck has simply not been on the Wild's side. While it's great to see their possession get a boost, faceoffs and offensive zone starts remained elusive against the Hawks and when things are pretty notted up, the Hawks are simply scoring more 5v5 goals.

    While the core bits are still in place with Minnesota, we've seen a lot of secondary changes here. Somewhat refreshing to know we are throwing new parts at the Hawks each year. Yet a difference in outcome has not been found. Do the Wild have what it takes to best the Hawks this go-around? Well, I don't want to spoil my picks for our series prediction piece which is forthcoming, so I'll leave a little mystery, for now.



    The series really comes down to who is going to do it better at even strength. The Wild have found a great bend-but-do-not-break defense this season, and their transition game against the Blues was really the difference maker in even strength scoring. For the Wild to break-through the Hawks this time, we will need to see all elements of their game come together. Getting hemmed in our own zone for large stretches like we saw against the Blues is not a recipe for success against the Blackhawks. They will make you pay.

    Wild vs. Hawks, take 3. This is going to be fun kids. Let's play!

    Fancy numbers come courtesy of war-on-ice

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