Splitting Numbers Or Hairs?: A Look At Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild In The Second Round


For the third time in three years the Minnesota Wild will face Chicago Blackhawks in the playoffs.

Two years ago, the Blackhawks dealt the Wild a five-game exit in round one. Last season it was a six-game departure in the second round. Now the Wild are looking to break through the Blackhawks so they can play in the conference finals for the first time since 2002-03.

Gone Puck Wild’s Jon Nomland wrote about how critical production out of Minnesota’s younger players is for them to get by Chicago. Now here’s a look at some of the numbers for the matchup.

Minnesota was paced in scoring by Zach Parise (33 goals + 29 assists = 62 points), Jason Pominville (18 + 36 = 54), and Thomas Vanek (21 + 31 = 52). The Hawks were led by captain Jonathan Toews (28 + 38 = 66), Patrick Kane (27 + 37 = 64), and Marian Hossa (22 + 39 = 61).

Between the pipes Devan Dubnyk will man the crease for the Wild while Corey Crawford has been slated as the starter for the first game of the series Friday for Chicago. Crawford and his backup Scott Darling flip flopped in their first round victory of the Nashville Predators. Dubnyk is a Vezina Trophy finalist as top netminder, after posting a 27-9-2 record to go along with a 1.78 goals against average, .936 save percentage, and five shutouts. Crawford registered a 32-30-5 record with a 2.27 GAA, a .924 SP, and two shutouts.

On the power play Minnesota was dreadful on the season, converting at a 15.8% clip, while Chicago was a little better at 17.6%. While short a man the Wild had success with a league-best 86.3% and the Blackhawks sat in 10th at 83.4%. Minnesota did a good job staying out of the box against the St. Louis Blues in round one, and must be wary of the talent laden across both Chicago power play units.

This postseason has success on the power play by the Wild who scored on four of 12 chances. Chicago’s power play in round one against the Preds was as productive as the Wild’s was throughout the season – 15.8%. While Minnesota wasn’t much of a threat on the power play through the regular season, their power play personnel is still dangerous. Both teams will probably try to avoid taking unnecessary penalties, as we saw the Wild and Blues do in the first round.

Now a gander into some advanced stats shows Chicago with an advantage in the possession numbers. Minnesota finished the 2014-15 season 10th in the league with a 52.1 Fenwick For %, and Chicago was seventh with a 52.7 FF%. Fenwick omits blocked shots, instead only looking at shots on target and missed shots, while Corsi includes blocked shots. The Corsi difference for the opponents was far more pronounced this past season, as the Wild had a Corsi For % of 51.0 (16th in the NHL) and the Blackhawks were up at 53.6 – second in the league, just behind the Los Angeles Kings.

Of course the reigning Stanley Cup-champion Kings won’t be able to defend their title, having missed the playoffs, so you’ll have to keep an eye out for Chicago and Minnesota going forward, as both have dangerous teams.