Minnesota Wild fans have a lot to cheer about so far this season. That's despite the fact that the Wild sit in 20th spot overall in the NHL, sporting a completely middling 4-3 record so far this year.
Wild fans can cheer the otherworldly play of goalie Darcy Kuemper. But his unreal start to the season will fade.
The better, more sustainable news may be that the Wild have the best line in hockey: Zach Parise, Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville.
Let's take a look at the amazing possession play of this Wild trio so far this season.
Corsi Stat Darlings
So far this season, the Parise-Granlund-Pominville line has played together for 26.14 percent of the Minnesota Wild's 5-on-5 minutes. That's 15 percent more than any other line combination on the team.
On the power play, this trio (along with Mikko Koivu or Thomas Vanek as a fourth forward) has accounted for 56.2 percent of the total power-play minutes.
In short, this unit has been leaned on heavily in the season's early going.
Despite the heavy minutes, Parise, Pominville and Granlund have managed to maintain fantastic possession stats.
As of Tuesday evening, all three were ranked in the top 10 of Corsi For Percentage (CF%) in the NHL;
- Parise in third spot - 65.3 CF%
- Pominville in seventh spot - 64.1 CF%
Granlund in ninth spot - 62.4%
*stats courtesy of Puckalytics.com
The only other teams with three skaters in the top 20 of the CF percent leaderboard are Chicago and St. Louis. However, the qualifying skaters for the Blackhawks (Jeremy Morin, Patrick Sharp and Marcus Kruger) and the Blues (Joakim Lindstrom, Paul Stastny, Patrik Berglund) have never played together on the same line for their respective teams this season.
*all line combination stats courtesy of Leftwinglock.com
Great Possession, No Results
Unfortunately, the great possession play of this Minnesota Wild trio may not be helping the team.
Corsi For Percentage (explained in full here) is derived by calculating the number of shots a player takes (shots on net, missed shots, and blocked shots all count) compared against the number of shots taken against that skater's team while that skater is on the ice.
The higher the CF percentage, the more that player is controlling the play (shots can only happen if you have the puck and are in the offensive zone).
This means that a player with a lot of shots, even ones that don't result in goals, can post a positive Corsi For Percentage without actually scoring goals, which a team needs to win a hockey game.
These unsuccessful types of shots seem to be fueling Parise, Granlund and Pominville's play.
On the season, Parise's shooting percentage is 7.5 percent, down from his career average of 11.3 percent. Granlund's shooting percentage remains at zero (no goals this year), down from his career average of 6.5 percent. Jason Pominville's shooting percentage is 13.6 percent, right on his career average since joining the Minnesota Wild. Altogether, the line has mustered only 7 goals this season.
So, while the possession play of Zach Parise, Mikael Granlund, and Jason Pominville has been dominant, their extra puck possession and shots on goal have yet to yield more offensive production.
Perhaps this explains why the team remains mired in 20th overall in the NHL standings.
In the end, the extra puck-possession time sure doesn't hurt the Wild. But, until this trio begins to translate their possession stats into goals, the Minnesota Wild are unlikely to climb up the standings.
What do you think, Minnesota Wild fans? Are you happy that the Parise-Granlund-Pominville line is possessing the puck so well? Or do you need to see more goals scored by the Wild's top line before you're impressed?