Five notable numbers from the 2013-14 Wild season
54.3 -- The average number of shots in a Wild game. Only New Jersey games (52.3) averaged fewer. In contrast, Senators games averaged 67.5 shots, the most in the NHL. For that reason, you often hear the Wild called a “low event” team (while others just call them “boring”). But at the end of the day, it’s not the sum of shots or chances that has a huge impact on outcomes; it’s the difference between the two opponents. Proof? In 2013-14, the top teams in terms of shot differential were San Jose, Chicago, Los Angeles, NY Rangers, St. Louis, Boston, and Anaheim. Two of those teams met in the Stanley Cup Final, and all of them made the playoffs. The Wild, meanwhile, ranked 21st, suggesting they’ve still got some work to do when it comes to controlling possession.
48.6% -- The Wild’s Fenwick close rating, which also ranked them 21st in the NHL. This is, obviously, related to the point made above re: shot differential (Fenwick is the number of unblocked shot attempts). Minnesota actually started the season among the top teams in terms of pucks possession -- remember the story about how they’d embraced analytics? -- but as the following chart from Extra Skater shows, the club didn’t remain up there with the elite of the league:
Injuries to key players like Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu most definitely had something to do with the decline in possession, but that’s still not a chart any team wants to see.
45 -- Power-play goals scored, the 22nd most in the NHL. This is one of the areas where the addition of Thomas Vanek could change things. The Austrian sniper has scored 113 times with the man advantage during his career, and Minnesota general manager Chuck Fletcher said he targeted Vanek in part because he “wanted somebody that could help our power play.”
53 -- Power-play goals surrendered. Only five teams allowed more: Arizona, Toronto, NY Islanders, Ottawa, and Florida. Notice anything about those five teams? Yeah, none of them made the playoffs. So in a very tough Western Conference, improving the penalty kill in 2014-15 could go a long way for the Wild.
.913 -- Minnesota’s team save percentage, to which five goalies contributed. Given all the injuries they had to endure at arguably the most important position, that’s not too bad. In fact, it ranked them in a tie for 13th in the NHL.