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  • Wilderness Walk: Is This Just Regression To the Mean?

    Image courtesy of © Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
    Thomas Williams

    The Minnesota Wild have now won every single game under John Hynes's reign, and in dominating fashion. Three games, six points. It now begs the question: Would this have happened anyways, or is he really bringing something new to the table that is earning these victories?

    One of the major problems -- perhaps the major problem -- was the Wild not getting any saves before Evason was fired. Now, the tandem of Filip Gustavsson and Marc-Andre Fleury have allowed just three goals on 80 shots under Hynes, a miraculous .962 save percentage. Maybe they would have done this anyway, but we'll never find out.

    Another issue was the Wild not being able to really score any goals, especially on the power play. Well, they have scored 13 goals on the 102 shots on goal they have thrown at the opposition and have scored three of those goals on the eight power-play opportunities they have had. We do have to recognize that sometimes a new coach provides a jump to players. Historically, it has always been like that -- whether it is actual changes to the system or just players trying to impress the new guy.

    To add another wrinkle to all of this, it's not like they faced the toughest competition either. The St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators are fairly equal in terms of talent, compared to the Wild, and the Chicago Blackhawks are straight up awful.

    Maybe it's a useless question, but it is something to just wonder if this streak was under Evason if he would still have had his job at the end of the season.

    That's Wild

    • Speaking of bouncing back, the Wild are returning to form after going through their worst-case scenario. [Hockey Wilderness]
    • It was a showcase of the Wild's youth on Sunday, as Marco Rossi and Brock Faber powered the Wild past the Blackhawks and earned some big remarks. Calder Trophy, anyone? [StarTribune]

    Off the trail...

    • Grading ESPN's preseason predictions and seeing what they missed, and what they got right. [ESPN]
    • Fighting in the NHL actually increased through the first quarter of the season. [The Hockey News]
    • The Pittsburgh Penguins are desperate to find some sort of scoring and they are using a new approach to their power play. [NHL dot com]

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    Wins are wins, however you get them.  This team couldn't buy goals or stops a week ago.  They proved they can beat three divisional opponents pretty decisively.  It is up to them to keep the upward trajectory going.

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    22 minutes ago, MNCountryLife said:

    Our PK looks different and noticeably better.  This change appears to be coaching related but time will tell us if these changes hold up to the smell test.....or not.  

    Chicago has the worst PP in the league and St Louis the 2'd worst. I'd give a lot of credit to having Spurgeon back and getting up to speed. He has to be one of the best shot blockers on the team. 

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    1 hour ago, Disco Strangler said:

    I'd give a lot of credit to having Spurgeon back and getting up to speed

    No doubt Spurgeon helps.  Spurgeon should own a PHD on how to properly play D in the NHL.  There are other things I see as well though.  Such as the PK protecting the blue line vs the red.  As well as, playing a high bred of constantly pressuring the puck vs being completely passive.   I don't think you can discount those changes completely.  That being said, time will tell to what extent it is helping (if at all)... as we play more teams and ones that are better at the PP.  So far I like the change.

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    Lost in the shuffle of this may be the firing of Woods. He was in charge of the defense and the PK, which was getting worse the longer he was there. This may be the best tactical part of the shake up. 

    Evason seemed like more of a leader of men type of coach, he left the Xs & Os to his assistants. But, his insistence on keeping Woods may have proven to be his downfall. 

    Next, Dwyer was brought in to help with the PK. But, IIRC, Dwyer was a forward not a defender. Who's in charge of the D? I'm not sure we have anyone? But, the D look to be playing much better.

    So, is this really just a coach bump or something else? Protec has been saying all along that if you can fix special teams the team will be alright. The PK seemed to be fixed, and the PP started scoring. That's a good recipe for some wins. 

    But, it goes further than that. Evason wasn't very flexible changing up lines. Hynes might be. For instance, on Sunday, we saw Hartman playing 4th line. Was it punishment for the suspension? Was it just where he fit? We also saw what someone else predicted, not quite sure who: Faber playing PP minutes.

    For me, the eye test reveals a team playing much more structured and getting far more chances. I don't think that is just the coaching change, but it seems like they have dialed back some of their aggression, a tactical move. They also seem to be moving more cohesively like a unit, perhaps a tweak in strategy. 

    The real thing, though, is they are playing Western Conference teams that are lower in the rankings. I think we found out that the Eastern Conference up and down are better than the West at this time. Now we have an opportunity to make up some ground. 

    So, to answer the question in the title, I don't think it's regression to the mean, that helps, but there are other factors that are equally contributing.

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    5 hours ago, mnfaninnc said:

    So, to answer the question in the title, I don't think it's regression to the mean, that helps, but there are other factors that are equally contributing.

    Assuming the mean is something like puck luck... then yeah I think there is a little bit of that going on.

    Assuming the mean is the Wild being a playoff team... then yeah we are regressing towards the playoffs.  (yeah I said that right)

    Assuming the mean is the players not having their heads up their ass... then yeah they seem to be regressing towards being turtleheads.  

    I think it is fair to say that there has been a change is style as well as a change in psychology and also a change in luck and it is all regressing towards?

    The 20th pick?

    (I'm actually much more optimistic but having fun)

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    I think the regression was actually referring to 2 things:

    1. shooting %
    2. save%

    At least that's how I took the title. I think puck luck is a different animal. That's where odd things suddenly happen, like pucks hitting stansions and giving players open nets to shoot at.

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