Goaltending dragging down good Wild team

The Minnesota Wild are a team that is going through some turmoil as we hit the halfway point of the 2014-15 season.  The coach is throwing tantrums in practice, the power play has been impotent all year, and the goaltending is the worst in the league.

The good news is that they are a top 10 Score-Adjusted Fenwick team.  They have a S.A.F of 52.7%, good for ninth overall in the league.  Score adjusted possession metrics are one of the best ways to predict future success.  Teams that have the puck more often are successful more often.

In fact, since the 2007-08 season teams that finished with a Score-Adjusted Fenwick of 52.7% (Minnesota’s current mark) overwhelmingly qualify for the playoffs.  An amazing 92.6% (38/41) of the teams qualified during this time frame.  This season all eight teams who are above Minnesota in possession are currently in a playoff spot.  Minnesota would be just the fourth team to not qualify with possession this good.  Does Minnesota have anything in common with those other three teams?  The answer is yes.

 

Team Record (rank in conf) 5v5 Save % (rank) S.A.F. (rank)
2010-11 St. Louis 38-33-11 (11th) .910% (29th) 52.7% (7th)
2012-13 New Jersey 19-19-10 (11th) .912% (26th) 55.0% (4th)
2013-14 New Jersey 35-29-18 (10th) .914% (25th) 53.4% (6th)
2014-15 Minnesota 18-18-5  (12th) .899% (30th) 52.7% (9th)

Terrible goaltending can be a death sentence even if you are great at possession.

Certainly being the 25th (14.3%) ranked power play in the league isn’t helping but the driving force behind Minnesota’s struggle in the standings is goaltending.

How many teams have overcome 30th ranked goaltending to make the playoffs since 2007-08?  Just one, the 2009-10 Ottawa Senators.

 

Year Team 5v5 Save % Record (rank in conf) Goal differential S.A.F (rank)
2007-08 TB .901% 31-42-9 (15th) -44 50.0 (16th)
2008-09 TOR .902% 34-35-13 (12th) -43 49.6 (15th)
2009-10 OTT .899% 44-32-6 (5th) -13 51.9 (9th)
2010-11 OTT .909% 32-40-10 (13th) -58 48.9 (22nd)
2011-12 TB .903% 38-36-8 (10th) -46 46.6 (29th)
2012-13 CGY .893% 19-25-4 (13th) -32 46.8 (23rd)
2013-14 FLA .908% 29-45-8 (15th) -72 49.0 (21st)
2014-15 MIN .899% 18-18-5 (12th) -10 52.7 (9th)

 

The biggest difference between when Ottawa made it in 2009-10 and the current Minnesota Wild is that Ottawa was in a playoff spot on January 12.

On January 12, 2010 Ottawa was seventh place in the Eastern Conference.  They were one point from falling into ninth place, but they in a spot.  Minnesota is currently seven points out of a playoff spot with teams like Los Angeles, St. Louis, Winnipeg, and Dallas to jump over.  The Wild needed to stay afloat in the standings during the first half to have a chance and they just haven’t.

When Minnesota starts to evaluate the coaching and roster personnel at the end of the season they could save themselves a lot of time and just jump right to the goaltending position.  Firing the coach and making major trades would be an overreaction.  With average goaltending Minnesota is a playoff team in 2014-15.

The season may be shot for the Wild but they should not panic moving forward.  Their overall roster is in a good place.  Just fix the goaltending.

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