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Myers: No advanced analytics needed, the Wild dropped a clunker in game one

Jess Myers and Kirsten Krull break down the Wild's season-opening loss to the New York Rangers.

NHL: New York Rangers at Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) drinks water during the third period Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022 against the New York Rangers at Xcel Energy Center.
Brace Hemmelgarn / USA TODAY Sports

ST. PAUL – The lesson of the baseball movie “Moneyball” was that using advanced math and intense analytics, teams could find new ways to win games in sports that have been played roughly the same way for more than a century.

The reality of the Moneyball era is that the Oakland Athletics were successful, for a little while, on a small scale, and now have faded into mediocrity or worse.

Similarly, the folks who dive into hockey’s advanced statistics that analyze everything that happens on every square inch of ice will tell you that Thursday’s season opener for the Minnesota Wild was there for the home team to win. They peppered New York Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin early, often and consistently. They brought the home crowd — ripe with anticipation for 2022-23 after the last regular season was the best in Wild history — to its feet again and again, especially when Kirill Kaprizov was doing magical things with the puck, as he is prone to do.

And after all of that sound and fury, the Wild got blown out of their own building, falling behind by four goals three times in the third period and settling for a 7-3 loss to a deep and talented Rangers squad that many pundits have penciled in for a spot in the 2023 Stanley Cup Final

The offense, frankly, was pretty good. Kaprizov moved the puck, paired with Mats Zuccarello. Joel Ericksson Ek had eight shots on goal. Matt Boldy scored twice — goals he said he would happily give back if it meant getting a win. The Wild had a 12-3 shots lead at one point as the crowd of 18,000-plus roared in anticipation. And for all that they found themselves in a 3-0 hole after 20 minutes due to a defensive effort that produced a one-word description from top-line center Ryan Hartman in the postgame locker room.



He’s not wrong.

Wild netminder Marc-Andre Fleury took the loss, making 28 saves on 35 shots in a disappointing season opener for the veteran.

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, so beloved by fans after coming to Minnesota in a trade last season, wasn’t good, and he admitted as much. Fleury even hinted that he had lost count of how many times that red light behind him had been illuminated.

“It’s a new season and we’re at home trying to get things going,” Fleury said, after allowing a touchdown and the extra point on 35 Rangers shots. “Giving up seven goals, you know – I think it’s seven – it’s very frustrating. It’s not fun. You wake up, get back here tomorrow and get ready for Saturday.”

It doesn’t take an advanced mathematics degree to glance at the schedule and see that 1/82 of the season has elapsed. That means there’s lots of time to fix and tweak things. That was the message of hope from the Wild after a clunker dropped them to 16-2-4 all-time in their Xcel Energy Center opener.

“It’s game one. I don’t think it’s panic button, for sure. It’s a tough game but it’s game one,” Boldy said. “We’ve got 81 more to go so we’ve got to find our identity for sure, but it’s definitely not panic button for sure. We’ve got really good players in here and just gonna come ready to play next game.”

The calendar will tell you that happens on Saturday when the Los Angeles Kings come to visit. No analytics needed.


Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at jrmyers@forumcomm.com, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
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