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On-Ice Review: Wild Did Well In Limiting Shots

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

Over the next few months, Wild.com will take a closer look at some of the areas of the Minnesota Wild's 2015-16 season, from players, to systems, and everything between.

Though it didn’t have the greater share of shots or shot-attempts, the Minnesota Wild finished in the top-third in the NHL in terms of shot-suppression in 2015-16, not allowing a high number of shots against.

The Wild played some of the lowest event hockey in the regular season, meaning, Minnesota and its opponents combined for a very low number of total shot-attempts on a game-by-game basis. The Wild averaged just over 105 total shot-attempts — for and against — per 60 minutes this season. That was the sixth-lowest in the NHL.

It's why, in spite of finishing in the bottom-third in team shot-attempts percentage, Minnesota still finished 10th in fewest shots against in the NHL.

Part of that is a testament to what the Wild excels at in its defensive zone when it doesn't have the puck. At even-strength, the Wild's opponents tallied the fourth-most missed shots against of any team in the NHL. The Wild also blocked the eighth-most shots in the NHL when play was at 5-on-5.

So though the Wild wants to be in possession more, how it defended, and how it clogged shot lanes when it was trying to win back possession was among the best in the league.

That fits in with Minnesota's defensive identity, a fast-paced, in-your-face pressure style that doesn't afford time and space on the puck.

It's a shape that can keep attacking teams on the perimeter, and the Wild also allowed the 10th-fewest high-danger scoring chances against this season.

Other small factors contributed to how effectively the Wild was able to suppress shot totals. Minnesota finished third in the NHL in faceoff percentage, including Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula, and Jarret Stoll combinig to win 53.6 percent of their draws.

Losing a defensive-zone faceoff is a good way to start a sequence that produces a shot or shots against, but the Wild was efficient in that regard. Minnesota was in the middle of the pack in terms of starting shifts in its defensive zone, doing so 32 percent of the time (15th in the NHL). Overall, the Wild wasn’t putting itself in too many defensive situations, and when it was, could either win a faceoff, or keep teams to the outside.

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