Garret Hohl contributes to Hockey Prospectus as well as Jets Nation, Hockey Graphs and the Winnipeg Free Press. Follow him on Twitter @GarretHohl
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.
To start off here is the rolling 25 game Score-Adjusted Corsi percentage and goal differential for the Central Division:
(Images curtosey of War-On-Ice)
The Minnesota Wild have ridden their hotstreak and Devan Dubnyk right into playoff conention. The Wild have gone 6-2-0 over the last two weeks, while posting a +8 even strength goal differential which was again the best in the league for the time frame. Even the underlying numbers have been improving, with the Wild posting a respectable 54.2 Corsi percentage.
The Wild’s offense has been carried throughout the team, with Jason Pominville, Zach Parise, and Mikael Granlund each leading the team with six points each.
Devan Dubnyk continues his rampage. In the last ten games played he has three shutouts and seven quality starts. Six of Dubnyk’s last eight starts have been statistical quality starts. Dubnyk hasn’t been slowing down and he is taking a huge workload with 25 starts in a row.
The most interesting change with Dubnyk is the Wild’s shot metrics with and without Dubnyk. The Wild started strong in this department but collapsed as the season progressed. A new goalie though may have instilled some confidence in the team or caused Mike Yeo to play a more shot differential friendly system. Either way, the Wild is looking more and more like a real deal.
The Wild had a busy trade deadline week. They acquired Jared Knight, Chris Stewart, Jordan Leopold, Sean Bergenheim, and a 2016 7th round pick for Zach Phillips, Justin Falk, 2017 2nd round pick, 2015 5th round pick, and a 2016 3rd round pick.
Micah McCurdy’s playoff chance model using shot metrics has the Wild’s playoff chances with a 90.6 percent probability, a huge leap over two-weeks ago.
The Chicago Blackhawks had a very interesting two weeks. The Hawks underlying numbers were very midling, with a +1 5-on-5 goal differential and a 51.8 Corsi percentage, but collected four wins and a loser point in their six games.
Jonathan “Captain Serious” Toews lead the Blackhaws with four goals and two assists in six games. Marrian Hossa though is not far behind though with five points over the same period. The real driver of the Hawks recent success has been goaltending. Chicago has experienced a league top 94.7 save percentage over the time period.
Shot metrics have Chicago all but in with a 98.2 percent probability in making the playoffs, three percentage points over last time.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues once again posted respectable numbers, a 4-2-1 record, a +3 5-on-5 goal differential, a 53.5 Corsi percentage. With the Nashville Predators recent losing skid, the Blues also move close to leading the Central Division in the standings.
Vladimir Tarasenko seems to be a regular staple for discussions here. The speedy, young forward scored seven points, leading the Blues over the period. T.J. Oshie and Jaden Schwartz also collected seven points as well. With a heavy game, solid possession numbers, and extremely deep scoring, the Blues could be a strong contender in the playoffs.
The Blues deadline were also busy over the deadline week. They picked up Olli Jokinen, Robert Bortuzzo, Zbynek Michalek, a mid-round conditional pick, and a 2016 7th round pick for Joakim Lindstrom, Ian Cole, Maxim Letunov, a late conditional pick. They also picked up Adam Cracknal for future considerations.
Shot metrics have a 100 per cent chance in making the playoffs, at least until the first decimal point.
The Avs posted a winning record 4-2-1 despite being severely out attempted and outscored at 5-on-5. The Avs posted a league worst 38.1 Corsi percentage, lower than even the Buffalo Sabres. They were also outscored their opponents by 3 goals, the sixth lowest in the league.
Why they have been winning is due to some of their youth pieces picking up the pace. Gabriel Landeskog and Tyson Barrie lead the Central Division with nine and eight points respectively over the time frame. Ryan O`Reilly also picked up a respectable six points in seven games.
For the trade deadline the Avalanche picked up Matt Clark, Jordan Caron, a 2016 6th round pick, and Freddie Hamilton for Michael Sgarbossa, Maxim Talbot, Paul Carey, and Karl Stollery.
Despite posting a winning record, the Colorado Avalanche’s playoff probabilities have actually dropped, down to 1.2 percent, due to the window closing and possibility for all the stars to align perfectly.
The Winnipeg Jets continue their middling record with a combination of goaltending slumps and terrible penalty differentials have dragged the Jets. The Jets posted a 3-2-1 record, a -1 5-on-5 goal differential, and a 52.0 Corsi percentage.
The Jets offense has been driven by Andrew Ladd with seven points, although Michael Frolik and Blake Wheeler have given their support with six points. Although, Blake Wheeler posted that point production with missing two games due to injury.
The Jets replaced some roster spots left open with injuries, picking up Lee Stempniak and Jiri Tlusty for Carl Klingberg, and two mid-round picks.
The Jets have seen their playoff chances drop, although only slightly, despite winning games because all the teams around them seem to be winning just a little bit more.
The Dallas Stars continue their fall out of the playoff picture with a 3-3-1 record and a -2 goal differential for 5-on-5. This is despite posting the leagues third best 57.5 Corsi percentage.
The Stars struggles in net continue. The Stars goaltenders have only saved 88.1 per cent of shots against, and that’s at 5-on-5! It will be interesting to see how the Stars react to this. Do they try to find a goaltender in the offseason or stand pat and hope for Kari Lehtonen return to league average?
Tyler Seguin returned to the Stars line up, although apparently he is not at 100% yet. They have missed the elite scorer. The Stars offense was led by Cody Eakin with four points, followed closely by John Klingberg and Vernon Fiddler at three.
The Stars chance for playoffs has fallen from 13.5 percent last time to 3.0 percent. While Seguin’s return may bump that number a bit, it looks like the Stars will be on the outside looking in.
At the deadline, the Stars traded Erik Cole and a 2015 3rd round pick for Mattias Backman, Mattas Janmark, and a 2015 2nd round pick. They also sent Anders Lindback and a 3rd round pick to the tank machine for Jhonas Enroth.
Nashville made a big splash in the trade market. They picked up Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli for Olli Jokinen, Brendan Leipsic, and a 2015 1st round pick.
Despite their post-deadline struggles, the Preds did not perform too badly by the underlying numbers. They have an even goal differential for 5-on-5 and a Score-Adjusted Corsi percentage of 51.9 Even their PDO is not severely off with their opponent’s 5-on-5 shooting percentage only being 0.3 percentage points above their own.
Special teams has been the root of the Preds struggles, specifically their 88.9 save percentage goaltending for all minutes. While a 7.2 shooting percentage leaves some to be desired, the Predators won’t improve their recent 2-6-0 skid without their netminder stopping pucks.
The bulk of the Preds offense has come from unusual places during their losing streak. Mike Fisher, Craig Smith, and Matt Cullen have all combined for six points over the Predators past eight games.
Shot metric models currently have Predators essentially in the playoffs with 100% probability, just like the St. Louis Blues. The real question currently to ask is which team will win top seed in the division.