TORONTO – When it comes to analytics, Nino Niederreiter “doesn’t know a whole lot.” Yet, for much of his four seasons with the Wild, Niederreiter has been an analytics darling.
Take this season: Entering Wednesday’s game against the Maple Leafs, according to corsica.hockey, Niederreiter led the Wild in Corsi (shot attempt differential while at 5-on-5, a possession measure) at 55.7, in goals-for percentage at 57.92 (30th among NHL forwards) and was fifth in scoring chance-for percentage at 58.33.
The numbers also show the Eric Staal and Erik Haula lines motor more efficiently when Niederreiter is on their left wing.
Niederreiter doesn’t know why other than maybe it’s just the way he plays. His strength is puck protection, which enables him to play a lot in the offensive zone.
“My main goal is to handle the puck down low, in the corners and try to get to the net, which is something I can help do on every line,” Niederreiter said. “Obviously you know when you feel good or you feel bad and things are going the way you want them to go or not, but overall, analytics, I try not to pay too much attention to it.”
Niederreiter ranks second on the Wild with seven goals, fourth with 15 points and eighth among forwards in average ice time (14:34 per game).
Niederreiter can become a restricted free agent if not re-signed by July 1. He says there have been no contract discussions yet with his agent.
“I have no idea how that’s going to go,” Niederreiter said. “It’s something out of my control. I’ll focus on playing my game and hope I can stay here as long as possible.”
Devan Dubnyk made his 300th career start Wednesday against the Maple Leafs.
“It’s a lot, and I guess most of them probably piled up the last couple years,” Dubnyk said before the game. “It’s been fun, and fingers crossed there can be some more.”
Since coming to the Wild, Dubnyk is 70-41-11 with a 2.05 goals-against average, .928 save percentage and 14 shutouts in 126 games, leading the league in games, shutouts, save percentage and goals-against average and ranking second in wins in that span.
“I know we don’t get as much press as the people up here, but he’s been as good as any goalie in the league,” coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Boudreau returned to Toronto with his best friend and former Maple Leafs teammate, John Anderson, for the first time while coaching together.
“He always knows his stuff and he knows the game and I know he’s got my back,” Boudreau said of Anderson, one of the best minor league coaches in history who also scored 282 goals and 631 points in 814 NHL games. “Add those things up, it makes for a good partner to work with.”
Asked his best moments with Anderson in Toronto, Boudreau, who assisted on Anderson’s first goal as a Leaf and in juniors, joked, “The best moments are untellable.”
There’s no dagger
Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher attended the peewee game of his 12-year-old nephew, Will, on Tuesday night. Will, a goalie, won for the Ted Reeve Thunder.
“He was a brick wall,” Fletcher said of Will, who got to meet Dubnyk and offered the NHL veteran some goalie tips.
The Thunder’s goal song is the Fratellis’ “Chelsea Dagger,’’ the same one used by the Chicago Blackhawks, who have knocked the Wild out of three postseasons in Fletcher’s tenure. Out of respect for Uncle Chuck, Will and 11-year-old brother, Owen, who runs the music in the rink, changed the goal song for Tuesday to the Wild’s former goal song, “Crowd Chant” by Joe Satriani.
“I was glad not to hear ‘Chelsea Dagger,’ ” Fletcher said.
• With illness going around the Wild, winger Teemu Pulkkinen was recalled but didn’t play.