Breaking Down “The Streak”, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Regression

(WARNING: The title of this post is sooooooooooo much better than it’s contents. Proceed at your own risk.)

So, here we are, Wild fans. 8 games. Eight. Friggin. Games. Ocho Gameos.

The Streak.

I’m a bit on edge.

But you know what? I want to feel better. So I downloaded every Animorph book that exists, and am now on The Visitor (Somehow, I managed to not get laid tonight. Weird). But now that I’ve decompressed a little bit, let’s look at what the Wild have done on this streak, and try to figure out what’s wrong (other than injuries, I’m really sick of talking about them), and what can be fixed. 

Shots

It’s been the Wild’s big problem all year. Watching this team hold on and make the extra pass when they ought to shoot it. The Wild have been outshot by 5.6 shots per game. Yuck.

But you know what? Shots haven’t been the issue during this streak. The Wild have averaged 28.6 shots per game in during the streak, up two from their season average of 26.4. And they haven’t allowed many more shots, either. They’ve only allowed 29.6 shots per game. During this 8 game losing streak, they’ve only been outshot by 8. Not too bad.

And what’s more, they’ve managed to not get outshot by a huge amount in games. There were only two games during this streak where the Wild were outshot by 10. Contrast that to the previous 7 game win streak, where the Wild were outshot by 10 or more 4 times (with an additional game where they were outshot by 9!). Stat gurus, eat your hearts out.

But I want to draw attention to the stats right now, because, for the first time in a long time, they offer some hope for this team. During this streak, the Wild have scored 10 goals on 237 shots. That makes for a paltry 4.2 shooting percentage. To put that in perspective, the highest shooting percentage in the league belongs to the New York Rangers at 10.9, while the worst shooting percentage in the league belongs to the LA Kings at 6.9. I figure a baseline shooting percentage would be at about 9%. The Wild have been scoring at an 8.6% clip this year.

This isn’t gonna happen forever. The Wild aren’t going to shoot at 4.2% for the rest of the season, just like the goalies won’t save 94% of their shots. The Wild are due for a regression, but this time, a good one.

Power Play

Put this breaking news in between “Marty Brodeur is Old” and “NHL Hitz 20-03 is Awesome”: The Wild have a mediocre to bad power play. However, we should be seeing some regression (HA!) here too. The Wild have gone 2 for their last 24 opportunities, at an 8.3% clip, down from the 18.4% they had on the season prior to this slide. Think the Wild are going to have an 8% power play forever? Don’t count on it. Especially if Mike Yeo tries something with the power play, like, say, putting Heatley on the point, or maybe anything at all.

So What?

Yeah, is there a flaw to the idea of regression? Absolutely. A coin lands “heads” 7 of 10 times doesn’t affect the probability of the next ten flips at all. It could be that the Wild are taking shots from lower percentage spots on the ice. But the Wild aren’t this team that’s lost 8 games in a row, just like they aren’t the team that was first in the NHL. Injuries and puck luck have had them hurtling in the standings, and both things should level out. This losing streak is tough to watch, and the regressionists are piling on at this point. But the nice thing to take away from this is maybe, juuuuuust maybe, the Wild have some progression to the mean coming up.

I suppose that not facing Pekka Rinne will help that.

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