ST. PAUL, Minn. — The morning of Dec. 2, Dean Evason led the Wild coaches’ usual staff meeting at the TRIA Rink.
Evason doesn’t use a separate office, as his predecessor, Bruce Boudreau, did. Instead, he has a desk in a room shared with his assistants, so they can communicate more quickly. There’s a big screen TV above Evason’s desk, and on this day, he went over clips from the previous night’s win over Edmonton.
One of the first topics? How the game broke down from an analytics perspective.
Enter Mat Sells, the team’s vice president of hockey strategy.
He’s the Wild’s one-man analytics staff.
“What did you see, hockey-wise?” Sells asked. “What did you see on the scoring chances?”
The staff discussed. And then the 39-year-old Sells presented the data.
“What Mat Sells does for us is he dummies the numbers down,” Evason said.
For example, they started breaking down their next opponent, Anaheim, and Sells told the staff the Ducks had the third-highest rate in the league at dumping the puck. That gave the coaches something to work with when creating a practice plan, which included retrievals and breakout drills.