Mike Yeo said in his postgame news conference Tuesday that the Wild probably didn’t get the outcome it deserved in a 1-0 loss to Chicago that put Minnesota in a nearly impossible 3-0 series hole.
Fans might roll their eyes at that — and yes: when you score zero goals in a game and fail to bury golden chances, it’s hard to say you didn’t get exactly what you deserved.
But: Statistically speaking — numbers that back up the eye test — Yeo was right in many ways. Let’s take a look at some of the stats and figures that told the story from the game:
65: That’s the number of shots the Wild attempted, a fairly staggering number. That includes 30 on net, 16 that went wide and another 19 that Chicago blocked. The total of 65 represents Minnesota’s Corsi number for the game, while Chicago had just 41. By comparison, Chicago had a 55-52 edge in Game 1 and a substantial 63-51 advantage in Game 2, per War on Ice.So the Wild was much better than it was in the first two games and was getting looks, particularly in the second period as this shot chart demonstrates (S=saves, B=blocked shots, M=missed net. Click to enlarge).
28: Scoring chances for the Wild, per War on Ice, compared to 23 for Chicago. But a lot of those scoring chances disintegrated into those 19 blocked shots. More telling, perhaps, was the inability of snipers Jason Pominville and Mikael Granlund to finish point-blank chances (unlike Patrick Kane, who buried his for the game’s lone goal). Having clinical finishers is a stat that’s hard to measure, and that stands as the biggest difference through three games so far.
22 of 59: The Wild was miserable in the faceoff circle, winning just 22 of 59 draws against Chicago on Tuesday. During the 2014-15 regular season, Minnesota won 49.5 percent of faceoffs, while Chicago won 51.9 percent — a slight edge, to be sure, but nothing like the huge disparity Tuesday. Many came in critical situations, including an offensive zone draw for the Wild with 45 seconds left that went to Chicago for a clear. Minnesota couldn’t do much with offensive zone draws all night, stifling other scoring chances.
4 of 176: Here’s the number that everyone will fixate on for the next 48 hours. In NHL history, a team that goes down 3-0 in a series has come back to win just four times while losing 176 times. (Those numbers on the link are through 2014, and two more teams in the NHL first round went down 3-0 and lost). Those are obviously terrible odds (barely 2 percent), though if there is a silver lining there is this: it’s happened just five times total in MLB, NBA and NHL playoffs, but four of the five times have been in the NHL.
(Yes, that’s the proper Dumb and Dumber quote. Learn it. Love it. Don’t mess it up).
Yes, there’s a chance. If you want further optimism, consider that in three of the four playoff series the Wild has ever won, it has had to rally from big deficits — 3-1 against Colorado in 2003, 3-1 vs. Vancouver in 2003 and 3-2 against Colorado last year. Yes, none of them were 3-0 against a Chicago team this dangerous, but still. Also, this Wild team cannot be left for dead. We tried that already this season, and then Minnesota acquired Devan Dubnyk and made this improbable run to even be here.
The formula is this: Keep plugging away like the Wild did in Game 3, get Corey Crawford to become the vulnerable goalie he is against everyone but Minnesota, and try to start piecing wins together one at a time.
The numbers show the Wild very easily could have won Tuesday. It’s no consolation now, but it does mean all hope is not lost.