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  • [Wild About Numbers]: Did The Better Team Lose In The Wild vs Blackhawks Series?


    As I have previously noted, the Wild ranked pretty low as a puck possession team this year and they have their goaltending to thank for dragging them into the playoffs. Still, their low ranking, as I discovered on Tuesday, isn't a fair representation of their actual talent. The Wild showed off that talent in the 1st round by dominating one of the worst possession teams in the league to the tune of 61.3% Fenwick For% at 5v5 Close.

    -Here's how things actually played out in each game from a possession standpoint:

    So, with those possession numbers, the Wild probably should've taken this series to Game 7 at the very least. Why didn't they? Well there are a couple of reasons.......

    -Here is their even strength Sh%, Sv% and PDO for each game (PDO is the two %s added together with a score of below 1000 suggesting they were underperforming their shot differentials, while a result of over 1000 suggests they were outperforming them):




    -Another factor that played into the Wild's early demise was their special teams:


    -So, here are the important points of the series summed up in 1 table:


    Overall, the difference between the two teams in this series was marginal. The Wild were the better team in 3 games, 2 of them being at home. If it had gone to Game 7 like it probably should have, the Wild would've been underdogs, just because the Blackhawks put up much better numbers at home vs on the road but, after winning the possession battle in 2 out of the last 3 games, there would have been every chance they could succeed.


    Still, the stats from this series are something the Wild can look back on with pride. They went toe to toe with one of the best teams in the league, if not the best, and in the end the difference between them was goaltending and special teams. Luck and bounces are a big factor in winning playoff series and the Wild didn't get many of them going their way in that series. They didn't get a game where Crawford totally capitulated nor did they didn't get a game where their powerplay just exploded. Things were close and cagey and, despite the Wild's good puck possession play at 5v5, the Hawks were able to get across the line in 6 games.

    The playoffs are a small sample of games and it's important not to draw too many conclusions from them but this looks like a massive step in the right direction for the Wild under Yeo. We know Chuck Fletcher likes his analytics so I'm hoping he spends this offseason looking at what worked and what didn't work for the Wild and then bringing in players who can help them take that next step so that they are the ones who get to march on to the Conference Finals next season.

    It sucks that the Wild are out and that the season ended on such a down note with the Wild losing a game they dominated, but there are massive positives to be taken away from this defeat and the playoffs as a whole.



    What are your thoughts, Wilderness?


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    Thanks to Extra Skater, Hockey Analysis, Hockey Abstract and SomeKindOfNinja for all the data.


    For a quick advanced stats 101, read this. For more in-depth stuff, read this.

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