The Minnesota Wild have had quite the up and down 2014-15 regular season. The beginning of the year had them as an elite possession team that was being weighed down by atrocious goaltending.
The first 20 games of the year Minnesota had a sparkling Score-Adjusted Fenwick of 56.4%, second best in the entire league. This did not translate into a high degree of success because goaltending during this same time period was 29th ranked with an EVSV% of .900.
The goaltending even led to some whispers of Mike Yeo being on the hot seat.
Then came along Devan Dubnyk.
On January 13th the Minnesota Wild were last in the Central Division with a record of 18-18-5. Half the season was over and things were looking grim.
January 14th was Devan Dubnyk's first start with the Minnesota Wild and since then things have been much better. Dubnyk has gone 21-7-1 since coming over from Arizona. Minnesota's EVSV% since Dubnyk's acquisition ranks sixth overall in the league with an EVSV% of .935.
They now sitting in the first wild card spot one point ahead of Winnipeg and three points ahead of Los Angeles.
The goaltending has improved but now Minnesota's possession game has slid just a little bit. Minnesota was second overall in the first 20 games of the year in Score-Adjusted Fenwick as previously mentioned, but when we take the last 20 games as a sample size it shows they have fallen back a little.
In the last 20 games Minnesota's Score-Adjusted Fenwick is 11th overall at 51.7%. Still good, but not the same level of dominance displayed at the beginning of the season.
Another quality area of Minnesota's game is their penalty kill. It ranks first in the NHL at 87.2%.
When you combine great goaltending with solid even strength play and elite penalty killing you have quite the recipe for success.
If Mike Yeo and the Wild can somehow figure out how to hit those marks from earlier in the season on the possession front they will be one of the more underrated teams entering the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Are they really the matchup that other teams are going to want to go up against come playoff time? My answer is no.
Thanks for reading!