This is the third and final article for my series previewing the Wild and Canucks “Play-In” Series.
I will be reviewing the war between the Wild and Canucks, no pun intended.
Reviewing the Series Using WAR
Using Evolving Hockey’s WAR (Wins Above Replacement) which measures a player’s value in wins and takes into account all aspects of the game.
So using their WAR, which team was better this season?
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Using JFresh’s WAR roster generator for 2019-2020 for both the Wild and Canucks, input the lines reported via The Athletic’s Michael Russo and Thomas Drance.
The Wild starting lineup had 24.8 WAR meanwhile the Canucks have 19.3 WAR.
There were some surprises on both rosters including players like Mats Zuccarello (1.3 WAR), Ryan Hartman (1.6 WAR), and Sutter (0.7). These were players that probably were overlooked by many, but the WAR metric displays that these players actually had quality seasons.
On the contrary, players including Luke Kunin (-0.6), Tanner Pearson (-0.6) and Bo Horvat (0.1) did not have as strong of seasons as their point production may have made it look like.
While WAR is not completely conclusive, it is a very reasonable stat and has a ton of value.
1) The Wild have a better overall team than the Canucks. The Wild have a better defensive core and more quality depth. The Wild have five top-4 defensemen and are quite the opposite as the forward heavy Canucks.
2) The Canucks are very dependent on two factors which are above average goaltending from Markstrom and their top 6 forward group heavily producing. Most importantly, Elias Pettersson, the best forward on the Canucks and already a top player in the NHL, needs to be stifled. Limit his production, and the Canucks are a totally different team. The Canucks rely heavily on their offensive production. Vancouver has one of the more deadly offensive teams in the league, specifically the powerplay in which they ranked 4th this season.
3) The Wild have two weaknesses: lack of star power up front and below-average goaltending. The Wild had the worst goalie tandem in the league this season, which negatively affected the team to a degree so massive that if the Wild had average goaltending this season, they may not have to compete in the play-in series. With the below-average goaltending, they still managed to have a Wild Card Competing team.
What do you feel are the keys to this series between the Wild and Vancouver? Drop a comment or leave a reply on our Facebook/Twitter post.