Welcome back to Around the Central Division. Every two weeks we will take a look at how the seven teams out in #ConferenceIII have performed and their story lines (ignore that it’s been three weeks since the last one).
Here is the rolling 20 game Score-Adjusted Corsi percentage for the Central Division:
The Minnesota Wild usurp St. Louis Blues for top spot. The addition of Devan Dubnyk has breathed new life into the Wild. Dubnyk and the Wild have gone 8-1-1 over their last ten games while posting a league best +15 even strength goal differential and a respectable 51.8 Corsi percentage.
Devan Dubnyk has been on fire. In the last ten games played he has three shutouts and seven quality starts. Dubnyk has almost single handily pulled the Wild back into the playoffs. Mikko Koivu carried the offense for his team, scoring 3 goals and 9 assists over the 10 games. Zach Parise and Nino Niederreiter lead the Wild with four goals each.
There are some concerns that the Wild may fall short once Dubnyk eventually cools down. Especially given the dichotomy in shot metrics between the Wilds top and bottom players, leaving them vulnerable to the NHL’s deeper teams. Currently Micah McCurdy’s playoff chance model using shot metrics has the Wild’s playoff chances well above 50, with 73.4 percent probability.
Last time Nashville struggled in the wins column, but excelled for 5-on-5 situations. This time we have a bit of a flip. The Predators went on a six game win streak, giving them a 8-2-1 record over the period. For even strength though they only carried +1 goal differential and a 51.6 Corsi percentage, decent but much lower than last time’s 57.4.
The bulk of the Preds offense came from their blue line. Rman Josi put up a goal and 8 assists, while Shea Webber posted four of each. Filip Forsberg continues his bid towards the Calder Memorial cup with seven points in eleven games.
Shot metric models currently have Predators essentially in the playoffs with 100% probability. While anything can happen, the combination of strong underlying numbers and a returned Pekka Rinne bodes well for the gold jerseys returning to the post-season.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues had a strong showing once again. They were outscored by 2 goals at 5-on-5 but still came out with a 6-4-0 record. The Blues also performed well in the shot metrics department, controlling 53.1 percent of 5-on-5 shot attempts.
Vladimir Tarasenko may contend for the league’s highest scoring second line forward. The young winger continued his strong play with six goals and three assists. Alex Steen lead the team in assists with 6.
The Blues picked up underrated forward Marcel Goc. Goc is not the analytical darling he once was, but his 51.9 percent Corsi has been a major upgrade to the Blues bottom end compared to the 44.2 number Maxim Lapierre was carrying. Currently shot metrics have St. Louis with a 99.9 percent chance in seeing the post-season.
The Colorado Avalanche have forgotten that they are long shots for the playoffs with a 3.6 percent chance by shot metrics and have ignored that they should probably try focusing on the future. Not that players should ever tank, but management should try optimizing assets.
The Avs went 5-5-0 despite being severely out attempted at 5-on-5. The Avs posted a 45.8 Corsi percentage but outscored their opponents by 2 goals due to carrying the league’s second highest shooting percentage over the time period.
Gabriel Landeskog and Jarome Ignla each lead the Avs in offense with 8 points each. Nathan Mackinon also came back into discussion after a strong performance that included a hattrick. Tyson Barrie has developed into one of the leagues best offensive defensemen; this time period he scored five goals and two assists.
The Chicago Blackhawks of late have been a far cry from the cup contenders of the past. The Hawks were outscored for 5-on-5 situations by 10 goals, worse than any non-Edmonton NHL team over the same period. Even their 51.3 Corsi percentage is not typical of the team’s usual dominant selves.
Marian Hossa lead the Blackhawks with an impressive seven goals and two assists. The goals dry up after that though, as the Hawks have struggled in the shooting percentage department. The team has only scored on 4.8 percent of shots at 5-on5, lower than anyone besides the Arizona Coyotes.
Let’s be honest. The Blackhawks are still a formidable team and have way too much talent for that shooting percentage to stay that low forever; however, their recent dip in Corsi has been maintained for sometime and may be indicative that the Hawks future may not be as bright as their past unless things change. Still, shot metrics have Chicago at a 95.2 percent probability in making the playoffs.
After enjoying the development of Michael Hutchinson emerging as one of the league’s best goaltenders, the Jets seem to have no luck. Although, part of their pain has come from their own fault.
The Winnipeg Jets have been elite in the possession numbers. Only the LA Kings sport a higher Corsi than the Jets 56.4 numbers. Their 91.9 save percentage is average for 5-on-5 and their 6.4 shooting percentage is not optimal but no where as damaging as the Blackhawks’ numbers.
So where is the losses coming from?
Penalties. The Jets lead the league in short handed minutes per game, and that number has been rising. The Jets have been average in short handed goals against per minute over the season, but their large number of minutes has lead to the league’s second worst total short handed goals against. Not only have the Jets been allowing more short handed situations, but their goaltenders and skaters have been struggling during these minutes.
Too many penalty minutes, too many chances against on the PK, and not enough saves… this is not a recipe for success. The Jets hold a 78.7 probability in making the playoffs, but the loss of Evander Kane (due to the big trade) and Mathieu Perreault (due to injury) and their penalty problems are not helping.
After climbing back into conversation, the Stars have almost fallen out again. A 4-5-2 losing record -7 goal differential for 5-on-5 hasn’t made things much better.
The Stars posted a decent 51.8 percent Corsi over their eleven games and scored on 7.5 percent of their shots, but can’t seem to buy a save. Dallas goaltenders combined for a 89.9 save percentage, and that’s for 5-on-5!
Tyler Seguin’s injury hurts the Stars, but they do have some formidable offensive options beyond the young star. Jason Spezza and Jamie Benn have both combined for 14 points over the eleven games. John Klingberg has grown into one of the league’s better offensive defensemen with eight points over the same time period.
The Stars chance for playoffs is an estimated 13.5 percent probability and has been falling. They will need to turn things around starkly if they are going to avoid an early summer.