StaTuesday: Wild vs. Jets – tale of the tape
The playoffs are finally upon us, and after battling their way to the third spot in the Central Division, the Minnesota will take on the Winnipeg Jets in the first round.
It’s a tough matchup for Minnesota, one that pits the Wild against one of the league’s premiere Stanley Cup contenders, a high-scoring squad that ranks near the top of the league in most major offensive categories.
The Wild are averaging 3.05 goals per game, right around the league average. They have a 40-goal scorer (Eric Staal), a 30-goal scorer (Jason Zucker), a 20-goal scorer (Mikael Granlund) and nine players with at least 10. Nino Niederreiter and Zach Parise, both of whom missed significant time this year, would have reached 20 or 30 goals given a full season.
|Joel Eriksson Ek||F||16||6||10|
Across the board, however, the Jets’ scorers are just a bit sharper. Winnipeg boasts the league’s second-highest-scoring attack at 3.33 goals per game, and has done so with relative efficiency. The Jets are averaging just 32.2 shots on goal per game, two full shots per game off the league lead. Patrik Laine scored 44 this year, Kyle Connor scored 31 and Nikolaj Ehlers came up just short with 29.
There’s also a significant caveat buried in those numbers: Defenseman Ryan Suter is out for the season. And while Suter won’t typically blow anyone away with his offensive contributions, the veteran was in the midst of a career season. Suter was leading the team with 45 assists when he went down, 24 of which were primary assists, the assist that immediately preceded the goal.
Defensively, there’s still a lot to like about the Wild, which boasts a deep blue line even without Suter. Rookies Nick Seeler and Carson Soucy have stepped up nicely to fill the void, while Suter’s defensive partner Jared Spurgeon is set to return soon after missing more than a month after suffering a partially-torn hamstring.
However, while goaltending has been one of the Wild’s great strengths in the past, Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck has been one of the league’s best goaltenders this season. Hellebuyck has the league’s third-best save percentage amongst full-time starters (at least 50 games played) at .924 and is tied for second with a 2.36 goals-against average. Devan Dubnyk has struggled at times this season, and ranks ninth with a .918 save percentage and eighth with a 2.52 GAA.
The special teams battle favors the Jets as well. The two teams are virtually even on the penalty kill, but the Jets’ power play has soared this season.
Led by Laine and his 20 power play goals, the Jets shined with an extra skater, converting on 23.4 percent of their power play opportunities.
Check out the full breakdown below.
|Goals For/GP||3.05 (11th)||3.33 (2nd)|
|Goals Against/GP||2.79 (11th)||2.63 (5th)|
|Shots/GP||30.2 (27th)||32.2 (15th)|
|Shooting % (5v5)||8.2 (8th)||8.6 (5th)|
|Faceoff win %||49.8 (16th)||52.4 (5th)|
|Power play %||20.4 (18th)||23.4 (5th)|
|Penalty kill %||81.3 (13th)||81.8 (9th)|
|Total penalty minutes||684 (18th)||697 (16th)|
|Power play goals||49 (19th)||64 (4th)|
Statistics courtesy of NHL.com