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Harding starts, Kuemper backing up for Wild in Game 5

May 9, 2013, 2:05 PM EDT


Minnesota’s crease conundrum is solved — for now.

On Thursday, head coach Mike Yeo said Josh Harding would start Game 5 for the Wild, and would be backed up by rookie netminder Darcy Kuemper.

That might seem like a fairly ordinary decision, given the Harding-Kuemper combo has been used repeatedly during this series.

But this was anything but ordinary.

In Game 4, Harding — who assumed starting duties when Niklas Backstrom got hurt during warmup prior to Game 1 — left the game after the first period with what appeared to be a leg injury (‘Hawks captain Jonathan Toews landed awkwardly on Harding’s left leg.)

That forced Kuemper, 23, into his playoff debut.

What’s more, the injury to Harding meant Minnesota was without a backup goalie, forcing Backstrom into emergency relief (he was listed as a healthy scratch, but quickly got dressed and sat on the bench.)

During Thursday’s gameday skate, it seemed unclear who would get the nod for Game 5.

Mike Russo of the Minnesota Star-Tribune reported both Harding and Backstrom didn’t “look good” in stopping shots, and that Yeo was having mini-meetings all over the ice, often involving goalie coach Bob Mason.

The Wild and ‘Hawks get things underway tonight (9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) at the United Center.

  1. Clark Street Sports - May 9, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    Reblogged this on Clark Street Sports.

  2. dtrb10 - May 9, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    All we had to do was beat either the Flames at home or the Oilers at home in the couple games of the season and we would have played the Canucks. For that reason I think Yeo should be fired. we lost 4-1 and 6-1 to both those teams and we could have secured a playoff spot with those games. instead we have to win on the road to get the 8th seed when we would have had at least the 7 seed with one on those wins.

    • alexbaymac - May 9, 2013 at 4:57 PM

      A little early to be calling for his head, isn’t it? (And I’m in the Hawks corner).
      Other than the mini-whine (pun intended) about face-off cheating, which seems to be all the rage this year, I have been impressed with Yeo & the Wild in general. This has been a real series, unlike what many pundits predicted after the season ended. Of course, at the beginning of the season, they had the Wild as the favorite to win the West!

    • unshavenjunk - May 9, 2013 at 5:40 PM

      Why would you want to fire Yeo? I agree we had higher expectations than losing in the first round of the playoffs. You have to hold the players responsible for some of the losses. I understand the frustration, but unless a top tier coach is available I think it would be a horrible idea to fire Yeo. He knows our young players better than anyone, give him some credit for Zucker and Brodin playing so well. Give him a full year with this team and I bet we will see better results next year–if not than we can talk about replacing him.

    • chicagobtech - May 9, 2013 at 6:03 PM

      Fire Yeo? Give the guy three seasons before even considering going that route.

  3. 950003cups - May 9, 2013 at 6:59 PM

    So Cory Schneider plays through a pulled groin. Had some great games. That’s what is called HEART. Backstrom is dogging the series. He’s scared to get shelled going in to FA. I don’t buy his “tweak” for a second. I’m telling you guy, it will soon be apparent that he could have played through the “tweak” no problem. Wait till after Wild is eliminated for it all to open up.

    And on keeping Yeo?

    They were healthy for the most part, and they make the playoffs on the last game? Sure, he’s a great coach.

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