Playoff preview: Avs vs. Wild

Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild

Records and head-to-head

Avs: 55-22-8

Wild: 43-27-12

Head-to-head:

Colorado won four of five this year. Interestingly enough, the two teams each won five of the 10 games over the last two years. Five were separated by one goal and the other five by two goals.

As analysts we focus on the certain things that lead to winning, and disregard other things that also lead to winning. We do this because some things that lead to winning can help us make predictions about how a team will perform in the future, while other things are less repeatable qualities.

The Colorado Avalanche rocketed their way to the third best point total in the league largely through things that aren’t generally seen as repeatable traits. The Avalanche have come through in the biggest moments of the year more frequently than any other hockey team, and the average importance of their individual goals was highest in the league.

The Avalanche play large parts of their games in their own end, and they’ve achieved success through making the most of their opportunities and their opponents making the least of theirs. A key feature to analytical research in hockey suggests that this isn’t a sustainable method of success. There is much to suggest that the Avalanche’s exceptional ability to score goals on a per shot basis isn’t completely driven by luck, as they’re shots have come much closer to the net then average.

The Minnesota Wild are an interesting team, but interesting is not a synonym for ‘good’. In the Avalanche they’ll have an opponent who will let them have the neutral zone possession their top forwards look for and the Wild have a mobile defensive corps that seems perfect to combat Colorado’s potent counter-attack play.

The Wild’s top heavy forward group might cost them in the key minutes, where the Avalanche’s depth might be an advantage. But if the Wild do get a lead, they have an extremely helpful forward group in Matt Cooke and Jason Pominville have combined for an excellent 44 CF% in defensive zone faceoff starts.

Offense GVT:

Avalanche: 38.9(4th)

Wild: 2.1 (25th)

Defense GVT:

Avalanche: -12.2 (24th)

Wild: 18.9 (5th)

Goaltending:

Avalanche: 14.8 (4th)

Wild: 3.6 (13th)

Special teams

Avalanche: Power play 19.8% (5th) – penalty kill – 80.7 (24th)

Wild: Power play 17.9% (16th) – penalty kill – 78.8 (27th)

Key-Match Up

Game 5. These two teams have some of the biggest home/road splits in the league this year, so don’t be surprised if Minnesota goes back to the Pepsi Centre for the fifth game with two wins to show for their time in Minnesota. This series is going to be closer then their regular season points might suggest, and the Wild are going to need to win in Colorado to have a chance.

Key Stat

22%. The average value in win probability of Avalanche goals this season, highest in the league. With peripherals painting this team as a pretender much more then a contender, the Avalnche will need every bit of that clutch magic in the playoffs.

Prediction: Avs in 7

 

About Matt Pfeffer

Matt Pfeffer is a contributor to The Hockey News and Hockey Prospectus, where he also manages the statistics on the site. He is the statistical analyst of the Ottawa 67's of the Ontario Hockey League, and has consulted for several pro hockey teams.

2 thoughts on “Playoff preview: Avs vs. Wild

  1. “The two teams each won five of the 10 total games. Five were separated by one goal and the other five by two goals.”

    Avs were 4-1 against the Wild this year. Any reason you chose to write this based on the last two years?

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