The Minnesota Wild are in a predicament. They have out-shot their opponent 76-53 through 137 minutes of hockey, created the majority of the scoring chances, and dominated advanced stats. But they are down 0-2 in their series, largely due to the heroics of St. Louis net-minder Jake Allen. Per Elias Sports, teams that go down in a series 2-0 only have a 14.1% chance of winning the series. After all, winning 4 of 5 after is no simple task. This is only made more difficult by the fact that Minnesota lost its home ice advantage and has to split in St. Louis to avoid a sweep.
In Minnesota’s current situation, the main contributing factor to the struggles is a snakebitten offensive core. A few players have been on cold streaks, including captain Mikko Koivu who hasn’t scored in his last 16. Perhaps more important is the strength of St. Louis defense over the last 10 games, only surrendering 21 goals. In order for Minnesota to regain a foothold, one of these trends will need to reverse. A goal per game, even against a prime Patrick Roy, simply isn’t good enough.
All over but the crying, right? Well, not quite. Although a 14.1% chance sounds like a longshot, there are more factors to success than one might consider. PDO can really only trend upwards from here, and the bounces are far more likely to turn than not. There is due reason to suspect the unlikely. Minnesota is intimately familiar with the back of the twine – they finished only 2 behind Pittsburgh at 183 Goals For on the season, despite a roster with far fewer superstar names. Devan Dubnyk actually had a better season than Jake Allen 5v5, and is certainly capable of stealing a game of his own. And St. Louis has had wild swings of fortune just as often as Minnesota has. Minnesota, evidenced by a wonderful Wilderness writeup, was indeed beginning to trend back upward. The team stumbled mightily through early March, but recovered quite nicely in the home stretch – winning their last 4 games in convincing fashion. By their relatively dominant, but ultimately fruitless, on-ice performances in the first 2 games, one might believe these successes were not aberrations.
If we discount the overblown importance of home ice advantage in modern hockey, the situation seems far more salvageable than many observers might believe. As Bruce Boudreau said, “it’s not as dire as they think.” They just should be sure to win the next one.