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Wild Getting Key Contributions From Top Players

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild has played 33 games, or just over 40 percent of its schedule, as it entered the Christmas break.

Entering last season's Christmas break, the Wild had a record of 16-12-3, or a points-percentage of .565. Minnesota's record of 18-9-6, with a points-percentage of .636, through this season's Christmas break has surpassed last year's mark. 

There have been different individuals who have contributed to Minnesota's strong start, and with a break in the schedule, takes a look at some of those strong performers and reminds you that All-Star voting is open to select the captain of each division.

Devan Dubnyk

Coming off a season in which he won the Masterton Trophy, Dubnyk has again been stellar in the crease for the Wild.

Dubynk's four shutouts are tied for third in the NHL, and one behind the league-leader. He has a .916 save percentage to go along with a 2.39 goals against average. Dubnyk's numbers look even better at even-strength. His .929 save percentage at 5-on-5 is 13th among goalies, coming off a 39-game stretch last season for the Wild when Dubynk had the fifth-highest even-strength save percentage at .939.

Dubnyk's 14 wins are tied for 10th-most among goalies, and he also missed four-plus games after sustaining a mild groin strain.

Mikko Koivu

While Koivu is known for his stout defensive play, and continues to be a front-runner for the Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward, he is having a career year offensively.

Koivu leads all Wild skaters with 29 points, which, through 33 games, puts him on pace for 72 points, which would be a career-high. 

Koivu's 21 assists leads all Wild skaters, and is tied for 12th most in the NHL (and ninth-most among forwards) as he is on pace to set a career-high in the category. Koivu is also second on the Wild with nine power-play points.

The offensive production hasn't interfered with Koivu's defensive play. He's tied for 27th in the NHL in scoring, despite starting over 28 percent of his shifts in the defensive zone, and over 38 percent in the neutral zone. Those shifts are also coming against top competition. Ten of the top 27 scorers in the NHL play for Central Division teams, three others are on teams the Wild has played twice, and five others are on teams the Wild has faced once.

So of the NHL's top 27 scorers, the Wild has faced 18 of their teams, and Koivu is charged with matching up against them.

In that group of 27, no player has a higher scoring-chances for percentage than Koivu, at 62.2 percent. His plus-86 differential in scoring chances is 30 higher than the next closest player among the top 27. Koivu also has the highest shot-attempts percentage of that group at 56.80 percent. 

Koivu is fifth overall in faceoffs won this season (428), and is 11th overall with a faceoff win percentage of 56.1.

Zach Parise

Despite missing eight games with a sprained MCL, Parise still is tied for the Wild lead with 11 goals this season. Three of Parise's 11 goals have been game-winners, tied for most on the Wild, and already matching Parise's total from the 2014-15 season. 

Parise has nine assists to go along with his 11 goals, and his 20 points is tied for fourth on the Wild despite the time he missed. He has been a driver of puck possession, with a shot-attempts percentage of 52.30.

He also plays a big defensive role in the Wild's gameplan, matching up against one of the other team's top lines on most nights. In spite of that, the Wild still generates more scoring chances for than against when Parise is on the ice (194 for versus 170 against), and with Parise on the ice, the Wild is most effective at generating scoring chances (32.13 per 60 minutes).

Ryan Suter

The elements of Suter's game that have been constants have remained: Suter has been a workhorse, a defensive curmudgeon, and a player that can be used in all three phases of the game. 

What's been different about Suter this season has been his offensive pace.

Suter is off to the quickest scoring start to a season in his career, with 24 points in 33 games. Suter's current 82-game pace of 59 points would shatter his previous career high of 46.

He leads all Wild skaters with 10 power-play points and eight power-play assists. He has two game-winning goals, one shy of matching a career-high.

Suter is still playing big minutes, averaging 28:16 per game, and averages more even-strength ice time per game (23:01) than any other skater in the NHL.

All of the underlying numbers paint the picture of a dominant defenseman. His relative shot-attempts percentage of 6.18 is 15th-highest among defensemen, meaning he greatly impacts the Wild's puck possession. When Suter is on the ice, the Wild is over six percentage points possession-wise than its average number when he's off the ice.

Thomas Vanek

With a clean bill of health this season, Vanek has flourished, tied with Parise with 11 goals this season.

Four of those have come on the power play, also tied with Parise for the team-lead.

Watching Vanek play, you can see the differences in his game from this year compared to last. The creativity is always present, and hasn't waned as he jumped from line to line (Vanek has played 80 or more minutes with five different forwards this season).

His 24 points are tied for second on the Wild, as are his seven even-strength goals. His eight power-play points rank third on Minnesota, and Vanek leads the Wild with a 16.2 shooting percentage.


As the official halfway point of the season approaches, voting for the 2016 NHL All-Star Game is open until Jan. 1. To help make sure the Wild is well-represented in Nashville, make your opinion heard here and vote.

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