Yeah, I know… this is hockey and not the NBA.
I’m not talking about Bob Pettit here.
(That’s an old-school St. Louis NBA reference, kids. Google it.)
Going into Wednesday’s potential elimination game at Scottrade Center, the Blues own a 3-0 lead over the Minnesota Wild in the best of seven, first-round Stanley Cup playoff series.
The Blues insist on keeping the red light turned off; the Wild have scored only three goals in three games despite outshooting their tormentors 117 to 79 overall, and 94-55 in 5-on-5 situations.
The Wild are dominating the Corsi possession rating in this series to a crazy extreme; there’s no truth to the rumor that the metric soon will be renamed the Koivu Rating.
Blues goaltender Jake “The Brake” Allen is putting a stop on the Minnesota offense; he’s made 94 saves on 95 even-strength shots on goal.
Allen has only increased the Wild’s frustration by smothering the puck instead of letting it squirt free for potential tap-in rebounds.
Allen is also getting a little help from his friends Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Joel Edmundson, Colton Parayko, Carl Gunnarson and Robert Bortuzzo. On the rare occasion that Allen permits a rebound, the Blues defensemen are there to move it out of harm’s way.
According to the metric specialists at the essential Corsica Hockey, Minnesota has only six even-strength shot attempts on rebounds. And you can make that a mere seven rebound shot attempts in all situations.
Think about that for a second…
To repeat …
The Wild have put 94 even-strength shots on goal this series, and only six have come on rebound attempts. That’s represents a puny 6.38 percent of their 5-on-5 shot total.
And in all situations, only seven of the Wild’s 117 shots on goal were put there by rebounds … or 5.98 percent.
Keep in mind that during the regular season Minnesota made money on rebounds, ranking 6th in the NHL in rebound attempts in all situations … and was 7th in the league in 5-on-5 rebound attempts.
Despite the heavy disparity on shots, the Blues have nearly matched the Wild on overall rebound shot attempts in the series. St. Louis has five to Minnesota’s seven … and that includes a slight 6-4 Minnesota advantage on even-strength rebound shot attempts.
I think this is significant.
The Blues will not let stray rebounds clutter Allen’s space.
The Note has used exceptionally efficient housecleaning to set up a series sweep.
The Wild haven’t been able to crash the net on a regular basis. And when the Wild do get into those high-danger spots in front of Allen, they haven’t found many unclaimed pucks. It’s one of the reasons for the Blues’ 3-0 hold on the series.
Finally, if I may hit you with more digits from Corsica before I go.
— The Blues’ have quelled the Wild’s odd-man rush game with disciplined zone defense and sound positioning. Minnesota has only six shots on goal off the rush over the first three games. Despite being at an acute disadvantage in puck possession, the Blues have nearly as many shots (four) on rushes.
— According to Corsica, the average distance of even-strength shots launched at Allen in the series is 38.08 feet. Only two of the 16 postseason teams have kept opponents shooting from a longer average distance. This is notable for another reason: during the regular season, the Wild’s average shooting distance was 31.31 feet at even strength. The Blues’ collapsing zone has forced Minnesota to shoot from a deeper distance than usual.
— And that, of course, goes a long way in explaining why Allen has faced a heavy volume of low-danger shots in this series. The count: 62 low-danger shots in all situations; 53 low-danger shots at even strength. And he’s stopped every one of them. Jake has also made saves on all 33 medium-danger shots including 27 coming at even strength.
–– Minnesota has only 14 high-danger shots against Allen at even strength. He’s made saves on 13 of the 14.
— That .928 save percentage on high-danger shots is remarkable. As a point of reference, Allen had an .812 save percentage on high-danger shots at even strength this season. And during his regular-season hot streak that began Feb. 2, Allen’s save percentage on high-danger shots was .857.
— One more metric: Allen has 5.15 Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA) during this series; that’s a big number for only three games and ranks No. 1 among all goaltenders in the first round.
— The quote to sum it up: “I don’t know what it is — well, it’s obvious that it’s offense,” Wild captain Mikko Koivu told reporters after his team’s 3-1 loss in Game 3. “We can’t find any holes there right now. We have to figure that out soon.”
Thanks for reading …