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Harding sick, Wild forced to start Backstrom

Jan 2, 2014, 4:02 PM EDT

hardinggetty Getty Images

The Minnesota Wild lost their sixth straight game on Tuesday, but at least goaltender Josh Harding stopped 21 of 23 shots against the St. Louis Blues. Unfortunately, he’s sick and consequently won’t be available for tonight’s contest against the Buffalo Sabres.

This will be the fifth time in seven contests that Harding is on the sidelines. He recently missed four games while he adjusted his treatment for multiple sclerosis.

Niklas Backstrom surrendered 17 goals in four contests during Harding’s last absence. He’ll be back between the pipes tonight.

“Here’s another opportunity for Back, and hopefully he takes advantage of it,” Wild coach Mike Yeo told the StarTribune. “Last year, when we needed to win that last game against Colorado, he came up with a great performance. I actually feel pretty good that he’s going to come out and do the same thing tonight.”

This is a game that Minnesota should win and maybe has to for the sake of Yeo. There’s been ongoing speculation about his job security given the Wild’s recent struggles and their overall disappointing showing so far this season.

He recently addressed the issue by telling his players that he doesn’t want them feeling sorry for him.

The Wild also placed 33-year-old forward Zenon Konopka on waivers today.

  1. strictlythedanks - Jan 2, 2014 at 4:35 PM

    Get well soon Josh.

    This is really salt in the Wild’s wound.

  2. clarke16 - Jan 2, 2014 at 7:05 PM

    Harding’s sick and they need to play Backstrom?! That means two more goals in the back of the net for the opposition. Better fire the Head Coach.

  3. mp1131211 - Jan 2, 2014 at 7:36 PM

    Yeo to players: Feel sorry for me.

  4. mp1131211 - Jan 2, 2014 at 7:39 PM

    This sucks. Yeo might as well just throw the pads on himself. Give Backy the night off and let him enjoy his millions while he’s still making it.

  5. bryguy39 - Jan 2, 2014 at 8:59 PM

    backstrom should never of been resigned! Should of went after Ryan Miller!

  6. cmmorgan32 - Jan 3, 2014 at 12:04 AM

    Well Backstrom haters, isn’t it amazing what happens when Minnesota can actually play a decent game of hockey? Backstrom was in net tonight and he certainly didn’t look like the liability some of you make him out to be.

    bryguy: Why would Minnesota have opted to go after Ryan Miller? There would arguably be no difference in performance and fans would make Miller the scapegoat that Backstrom has become.

  7. clarke16 - Jan 3, 2014 at 2:21 AM

    Have you looked at his save percentage recently? That’s not NHL worthy–and tonite he looked good. What was it? 18 shots and he only let in one goal?! Get well soon, Harding. The season depends on it…

    • cmmorgan32 - Jan 3, 2014 at 6:03 AM

      What is an NHL worthy save percentage? Jeff Frazee had a 1.000 save percentage last season. Does that mean he’s an NHL worthy goalie? Harding managed a .863 save percentage last season. Is he an NHL worthy goalie? The fact is the bulk of the games Backstrom has played in weren’t “out of reach” games for Minnesota. If Minnesota actually played halfway decent hockey on the road, some of those losses could have easily been wins.

      If you want to look at stats, how about Minnesota being ranked #29 in goals per game. Do you know what Minnesota, Buffalo, NY Rangers, Calgary, Florida, Nashville, and New Jersey all have in common? They are all at the bottom of the league in goals per game (Buffalo dead last) and they are all currently without playoff spots.

      The fact of the matter is that Minnesota’s struggles (especially recently) are not entirely Backstrom’s fault (like some people seem to think). It doesn’t matter who you have in net if your team can’t score goals. The Rangers, Blue Jackets, and Sabres all have goalies who are supposedly “elite” goalies. Also, they are all former Vezina winners too. So why are their teams in their current spot? Can Backstrom play better? Obviously, but it’s irrelevant if the rest of the TEAM doesn’t improve too.

      • clarke16 - Jan 6, 2014 at 1:13 AM

        The point is–if you’re only scoring 2-3 goals/game, it’s vital that you have a goaltender who can consistently hold the opposition to less. That’s how you score the W. Backstrom doesn’t have that anymore–if he ever did.

        This is reality for the Wild until they can bring in a couple more pieces of the puzzle that they now lack…

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