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Thursday (Time for Wild's Backstrom to step up) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand under NHL news Updated: December 19, 2013 - 8:51 AM

 

Josh Harding has played so startlingly well this season that it's easy to forget he was the No. 2 goalie coming into the year for the Wild.

 

Without his league-leading 1.51 goals against average, the Wild very likely would be buried in the standings. Instead, they are right in the playoff race.

And now we are going to get a glimpse of life without Harding, who is undergoing a minor adjustment in his treatment for multiple sclerosis. The great news across the board -- piled onto the fact that Harding is able to play at such a high level in the first place -- is that this sounds like a minor, planned thing. If all goes according to what the Wild say, Harding is expected back Dec. 27 against Winnipeg.

The Wild faces the Penguins, Rangers and Flyers -- three road games in five days -- leading up to their holiday break, which is followed by that Jets game and Harding's expected return. The Wild can ill-afford a major slip-up on this trip, and adding to its point total in the absence of Harding is essential in the crowded Western Conference.

That basically means this: It's time for Niklas Backstrom, the No. 1 goalie heading into the season and for the past several before it, to step up. The veteran, who will turn 36 in February, signed a 3-year deal this past offseason worth more than $10 million total.

He had offseason sports hernia surgery and has battled numerous other ailments while posting numbers that, over the span of a full season, would be career lows. He has a 2-5-2 record, a goals against average of 2.93 and a save percentage of .900.

That goals against average ranks 36th in the NHL; Harding's, of course, ranks No. 1. Plain and simple, a team that seems to win a lot of games 2-1 and 3-2 needs the stingy old Backstrom to emerge in these next three games -- and quite possibly more down the stretch to give Harding more breaks.

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Cincinnati 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
Baltimore 0
NY Yankees 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
Toronto 0
Philadelphia 0 Top 2nd Inning
NY Mets 0
Boston 2 Top 1st Inning
Tampa Bay 0
Miami - T. Koehler 6:35 PM
Atlanta - E. Santana
Cleveland - D. Salazar 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Vargas
Detroit - J. Verlander 7:10 PM
Chicago WSox - S. Carroll
Texas - S. Baker 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Oberholtzer
Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks 7:15 PM
St. Louis - S. Miller
Colorado - C. Bergman 8:40 PM
Arizona - J. Collmenter
Oakland - J. Lester 9:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
Los Angeles - D. Haren 9:10 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Washington - J. Zimmermann 9:10 PM
Seattle - F. Hernandez
Milwaukee - W. Peralta 9:15 PM
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 14 1st Qtr 7:14
Connecticut 0
(6) Jacksonville St 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Houston 7:00 PM
Sporting Kansas City
Ottawa 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Minnesota 9:00 PM
Phoenix

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