Jan 11, 2012, 7:18 PM EDT
The Wednesday Wake-Up Call is where we pick a struggling player and kindly ask him to SNAP OUT OF IT ALREADY. COME ON. YOU’RE BETTER THAN THIS!
Niklas Backstrom, G, Minnesota Wild
Key stats: 1-6-2 in last eight games played.
Cap hit: $6 million annually
Most have pinned Minnesota’s recent slide — the Wild have lost 11 of their last 13 — on a lack of scoring. The 29th-ranked offense in the NHL is averaging just over two goals per game and has gone in the tank of late…but that’s not the only reason Minnesota has dropped from first in the Western Conference into a dogfight for eighth.
The other reason: Niklas Backstrom hasn’t been very good.
After dropping a 2-1 shootout decision to the Islanders back on Dec. 17, the Finnish netminder has struggled to keep pucks out of the net. After the loss to New York, Backstrom allowed four goals in three consecutive contests — against Vancouver, Edmonton and Colorado — before allowing three in each of his next three against Edmonton, Phoenix and Calgary. Five of those six games ended up in defeat with the last one, a 3-1 loss in Calgary, being especially troublesome as Backstrom allowed three goals in a 9:13 span in the final period.
The Wild need Backstrom to be at his best for a variety of reasons. One, they’ve sunk $6 million bucks into his services this season, a fair chunk of change for a team that’s not spending to the cap. Two, the health of backup Josh Harding has been dicey — he missed all of last year with a knee injury and part of this season with a head injury — and he’s yet to prove capable of handling the starting load.
Bottom line: To avoid an embarrassing collapse, Minnesota needs its No. 1 netminder to show the form that made him a former Vezina nominee.
So wake up, Niklas Backstrom. Your team needs you.
- Playoffs tonight: Bruins and Red Wings look to finish things in Game 5 1
- Video: Senators’ captain Alfredsson discusses his future 10
- Penguins put on a ‘clinic’ in semifinal series win over Senators 26
- Report: NHL to present Glendale with Coyotes ownership plan next week 12
- Discuss: Penguins knock off the Senators in Game 5, headed to conference final 68
- Video: Morrow’s goal off the foot stands after review 5
- Maloney signs long-term contract as Coyotes GM 7
- Playoffs Tonight: Penguins aim to finish off Senators 20
- Kings’ Quick ‘didn’t have to work hard’ in shutout win over Sharks 7
- Discuss: Kings dominate Game 5, one win away from Western Conference final 23
- Report: NHLPA director Fehr wants to address issue of fighting (114)
- Question for commenters: What, if anything, needs to be done about the officiating? (101)
- Discuss: Bruins rally in third, take 3-0 series lead (99)
- Discuss: Detroit takes 2-1 series lead vs. Chicago (95)
- Discuss: Rangers stay alive with OT win (87)
- Pacers even series with Heat
- Penguins bounce Senators | Highlights
- MST: Rosberg wins pole in Monaco | Highlights
- Tennis.com: Can anyone stop Serena at French?
- Tennis.com: Is French still Nadal's to lose?
- Tigers' Sanchez loses no-hitter in 9th vs. Twins
- PST: Report: Openly gay Rogers to play for Galaxy
- Play Video: Highlights: Penguins crush Senators to move on
- Play Video: Neil hits Murray below the belt
- Play Video: Morrow's goal up for review in Game 5
- Play Video: Phantom penalty called on Crosby
- Play Video: I was there: Bruins stun Maple Leafs in Game 7
- Play Video: Top-seeded Blackhawks on brink of elimination