Minnesota Wild: God-awful without Lemaire? Or just unlucky?

Through nine games (including Friday's game against the St. Louis Blues), the Minnesota Wild have been horrible. At 2-7-0, they're 2nd-last in the NHL, ahead of only Toronto, a team whose failures are well-known. But Minnesota has some new problems: defense. With Jacques Lemaire coaching them, defense has always been a strength, but in their first year without him, they've fallen apart.

Let's put some number on that decline:

2009-10

2005-09

Save Pct

886

918

Goals

3.33

2.44

Shots on Goal

26.0

27.2

Missed Net

10.7

11.6

Blocked Shots

13.1

12.1

Total Shots

53.1

53.4

Minnesota is giving up fewer shots on goal than they did when Jacques Lemaire was the coach, but those shots are resulting in substantially more goals against. So is this unparalleled in Minnesota's recent history? Not really - over a nine-game stretch, they've posted a save percentage worse than 886 nine times since the lockout. Their worst performance was in games 9 through 17 of the 2007-08 season, when they went 2-7 (like this year) and had an 876 save percentage.

So even with Niklas Backstrom in goal and Jacques Lemaire behind the bench, the Wild still have two or three stretches every season where they're as bad as they've been so far this season. But usually their offense doesn't collapse at the same time, so they win more than two games during their defensive swoon. And it hasn't happened at the beginning of the season before - both bad starts and good starts tend to get magnified because they started from zero.

One last thing to look at - how far away are the shots on goal Minnesota is giving up?

2009-10

2005-09

Average Shot Length

32.0

35.9

In the last four seasons, Minnesota never gave up shots from this close to the goal. The next worst figure was 32.4 feet - during a stretch last year when they went 2-9 in late February and early March to take themselves out of contention for the playoffs. And now they're worse than that, the worst performance Jacques Lemaire's vaunted defensive system put together in four season? I guess the Minnesota Wild are toast...

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