Jared Spurgeon is the Key to Success
Minnesota Wild defenceman Jared Spurgeon is one of the most underrated players in the National Hockey League. He does more than just score points and defend shots. Spurgeon is an all-around player who can stop opposing teams from attacking the net, while also providing goals and assists. The 30-year-old has played in Minnesota for his whole career and is going into his seventh Stanley Cup Playoffs (if Minnesota wins the Play-In Round).
Minnesota is known for its defensive depth and has recently been a defensive-minded team. Unfortunately, this leaves Spurgeon in the shadows, but, he has thrived in the role he is in. Ryan Suter is no doubt the top defenceman in Minnesota’s depth chart, but as the National Hockey League evolves to a more speed-based game, Suter has struggled. Going up against players such as Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, Suter struggles to defend his blinding speed.
Spurgeon is the player on Minnesota’s roster who can defend these players. Sadly, his performances fly under the radar and he does not receive the appreciation he deserves.
Statistically, Spurgeon has produced solid numbers for the Minnesota Wild. This season he had 12 goals and 20 assists in 62 games, including a hat trick in a 5-3 win against the Edmonton Oilers. These statistics are nothing spectacular, but he also provides valuable production in other aspects. Spurgeon’s possession metrics are what is really intriguing.
For those of you who do not know, Corsi is a statistic used to measure possession based on shots on goal. If the measurement is above 50%, the team possessed the puck more than their opponent. Spurgeon has a Corsi For Percentage (CF%) of 52.4%. As mentioned earlier, this means that while Spurgeon was on the ice, the Minnesota Wild had more possession of the puck. Naturally, the more possession you have the more scoring opportunities you have.
The previous statement can be backed up by the team’s shooting percentage while Spurgeon is on the ice. Remarkably, the Wild have an 11.9% shooting percentage while Spurgeon is on the ice. This shows how impressive this is. Let’s look at this in terms of a game situation.
This season Spurgeon averages 22 minutes and 34 seconds on the ice per game. Minnesota averages 30.1 shots per game this season. Spurgeon’s time on ice per game over sixty minutes, multiplied by the average shots per game comes out to about 11.3 shots per game where Spurgeon is on the ice. 11.3 multiplied by .119 (shooting percentage) comes out to Spurgeon being on the ice for 1.34 goals per game with the shooting percentage of the Wild. Although he does not always get a point, his possession of the puck creates chances.
The Play-In Series
Spurgeon will be heavily relied upon to defend high profile players such as Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks. Not to mention Calder Memorial Trophy Finalist, Quinn Hughes. This will prove to be a big challenge as the youth of Vancouver looks to defeat Minnesota.
Spurgeon will need to provide defensive support as well as offensive production. Goals have been hard to come by for Minnesota in the playoffs. Spurgeon needs to step up and create opportunities that he was creating in the regular season. If he does this, it will greatly increase Minnesota’s chances to advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.