North Score, playoff edition: Chris Hine breaks down three analytical points from Wild and Wolves home playoff games. Here's an excerpt, and read more at startribune.com/northscore.
Wild winger Charlie Coyle had relief and frustration in his voice at the same time.
Coyle said the Wild was frustrated in its attempt to gain control in the offensive zone during the first two games of its playoff series against the Jets.
But in its 6-2 victory in Game 3 on Sunday, Coyle said the Wild made the needed adjustments — adjustments that seemed simple — in order to fix that aspect of its game.
The difference, he said, was the Wild supported the puck from the defensive zone to the neutral zone and the neutral zone to the offensive zone against the Jets' 1-4 defense that gave the Wild fits in Winnipeg.
"The first few games we kind of just throw it in for the sake of throwing it and we were putting guys on islands," Coyle said. "There was no support there and we don't get anything from it. It ruins our game and then it's a downhill spiral. We do those little things, support and talk and we'll get those chances and find the back of the net like we did [Sunday]."
The common advanced metric that shows just how tough it was for the Wild to gain control in the Jets' zone is Corsi — or overall shot attempts whether they are on goal or not. The thinking is the more shot attempts, the more time a team is in its offensive zone. Through the first two games of the series, the Wild — who traditionally never has a high Corsi number — was downright putrid in that department.
The Jets had 70 shot attempts during 5-on-5 play in Game 1 to the Wild's 41. In Game 2 it was 59-25 Jets.
In Game 3, the Wild closed that gap (44-34 Jets). Not only did four of the Wild's goals come during 5-on-5 play, the Wild was also able to get some key penalties in the first period against the Jets thanks in part to its play in the offensive zone.
Coyle said the Wild was more poised and deliberate in its attack against the 1-4 zone.
"When we take the ice when we can and move your feet first, it kind of puts them back on their heels and they're not sure what to do and things open up," Coyle said. "Guys supporting each other. That's hockey."