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  • [Wild About Numbers]: Low Event Hockey & The Minnesota Wild


    As much as it annoys us when other fans say the Wild are a boring team, those criticisms have been somewhat justified. From the days of Lemaire's trap, to the mediocrity of the Todd Richards-era teams to the Yeo era, the Wild have been terrible at generating shots on goal but, at times, have been excellent at suppressing shots. That leads to games of hockey where not a whole lot happens.

    Generally a lot of excitement comes from games with frequent scoring chances and, in Wild games, there just aren't many. During Mike Yeo's first 2 years as head coach, the Wild were pretty reliant on the dump and chase strategy which, when you don't have players good enough to consistently retrieve the puck and win battles behind the net, means that most possessions end in a dump and a turnover. It could be excruciating to watch at times.

    -On to the numbers:

    In the chart above, what is being measured is each team's Corsi For Per 60 (CF60) and Corsi Against Per 60 (CA60) over the last 2 seasons at 5v5 Close ("5v5 Close" is when the score is within 1 goal during the first 2 periods or tied in the 3rd or OT, used to negate score effects). Corsi events are shot attempts (goals, saves, blocks, misses). I've just gone with the 2 previous seasons because, in Yeo's first year he was essentially coaching an AHL roster so results are skewed.

    The teams towards the bottom left quadrant are the low event ones while the teams towards the top right play a more high event style. You can see the Wild have been the 8th best team at suppressing shot attempts against at 5v5 Close but have been pretty awful at generating shot attempts.

    Now, let's compare that to this season.

    The numbers I will be using in these tables are based on Fenwick instead of Corsi. Fenwick is the very same only it doesn't include blocked shots. It correlates very strongly with scoring chances and winning games which is why it's the de facto team stat (Corsi correlates better with Time On Attack but not so much with scoring chances).

    Fenwick For% (FF%) at 5v5 Close is what people are talking about when they say "puck possession".

    -Here's how the Wild did over their first 5 games last season:

    -Here's this season so far:


    -Most importantly, here's an average comparison of the two:



    It's still extremely early doors, but there are some signs that the Wild might be breaking free of their low event past and playing NHL hockey the way it should be played. We've heard so much over the last year about how the Wild are moving towards analytics and particularly in relation to the advantages of controlled entries over dumping the puck. Even Zach Parise has professed to being a convert to that line of thinking. The early evidence is that the organisation's subscription to this new philosophy is paying dividends as the team has been continually gaining the zone with control and generating scoring chances. I hope it continues throughout the season and beyond because it's been fun to watch.

    Everything is trending in the right direction. Those extremes probably aren't sustainable, but it's a hell of a good start.


    What are your thoughts on all this, Wilderness? Leave a comment and share on Facebook and Twitter.

    Data courtesy of War_On_Ice and Stats.HockeyAnalysis

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