If you are inclined to look at the Minnesota Wild's recent stretch with a glass-is-half-full approach, you could spin it this way: the Wild has been outshot by a wide margin and outplayed in large part over the last seven games, but it has still managed to go 4-2-1 in that stretch.
That's the sign of a good team, your optimism would tell you, since finding a way to grind out wins when you aren't playing your best is an important marker of a successful season.
A pessimist, though, might see it as a warning sign. After Wednesday's game at San Jose, the Wild plays four consecutive games against Vegas and Colorado, the teams the Wild is chasing in the West standings. The next three after that are against St. Louis, the team directly below the Wild in the standings. If Minnesota doesn't improve its play in those games against better competition, it could pay the price with a tumble down the standings.
I talked about that with Wild beat writer Sarah McLellan on Wednesday's Daily Delivery podcast.
Click here to listen if you don't see the podcast player.
Here are a few specific numbers that bear out the Wild's recent dip in play:
*Minnesota has attempted 162 shots on goal in the last seven games, while opponents have tried a whopping 259. While some of that disparity can be attributed to two lopsided losses to Colorado during that stretch, it continued against St. Louis and San Jose. And the losses to the Avalanche by a combined 11-1 score should be a warning for those upcoming games against Vegas and Colorado.
*Some of that is the style the Wild plays ... but Minnesota had been outshooting opponents on a regular basis. The Wild is now 12-4 when it outshoots opponents and just 8-6-2 when opponents shoot more. Those numbers tell you there is not only a correlation between shooting more and winning more, but also that the Wild had outshot opponents 16 times while being outshot just nine times before this recent seven-game stretch.
*From an analytics lens, this shows up in both Corsi and Fenwick — similar ways to measure puck control. The Wild's percentage in both cases has dipped below 40% over the last seven games; in a better stretch since the COVID pause but before this seven-game dip, the Wild was up over 50% in Fenwick and near it in Corsi.
*And again: Not all shots are created equal. But if we look at just the last two games against St. Louis and San Jose, in 5 on 5 situations the Wild gave up 20 "high-danger" chances combined and only had nine "high-danger" chances of its own. That it managed a win and a shootout loss, getting three of a possible four points, is a testament to capitalizing on limited chances, high-end finishes (like Kirill Kaprizov vs. the Blues) and strong goaltending from Cam Talbot.
But against Colorado during that stretch, they weren't so lucky. In a different category, scoring chances, the Avs had a whopping 66 in 5 on 5 situations in those two games while the Wild had just 23. That's not just getting outshot or outscored. That's getting severely outplayed.
A team can survive and scrape together wins against lesser competition over short stretches when it plays like that. But against better competition, it won't fly. So if you watch the Wild at San Jose on Wednesday night, monitor not just the scoreboard but the way the Wild is playing.
Getting two points and some confidence in its overall game heading into a tough schedule stretch could be vital in defining the Wild's season.