Wild notes: Harding ready to return to practice

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 15, 2014 - 12:44 AM
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Wild goalie Josh Harding

Josh Harding didn’t get into specifics, but the Wild goaltender seemed to indicate Tuesday that he has missed 11 of the past 13 games for reasons due to treatment for multiple sclerosis.

“I wasn’t feeling good,” said Harding, who was diagnosed in the fall of 2012 and missed two months last season due to complications. “If I felt even a little bit like I could play, I would have. But there are some things that are out of my control, and I thought we did everything that is in our control to get back to where we are right now.”

Harding, who missed his seventh consecutive game Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators, took part in Tuesday’s pregame skate and plans to rejoin the Wild for practice Wednesday. He didn’t say how much practice he’ll need to return to the lineup.

“I’ve been working out hard with our strength coach, Kirk Olson,” he said. “While the team’s been gone, I’ve been on the ice. Now it’s just a matter of getting the reps in and getting back, finding a rhythm and getting in control.”

Harding was 18-5-3 when he first left the team Dec. 18 for four games to have his treatment of MS altered. He has lost both his starts since but still leads the NHL with a 1.65 goals-against average and is second with a .933 save percentage.

“When you’re playing good, when you’ve got that rhythm, when you’re getting in there and finally getting the chance, you want to run with it,” Harding said. “Again, there are some things that are out of my control, and I’m just happy with how we all dealt with it and figured out what we could control and did it.

“I need to work hard to not be the weak link when I get back. [Darcy Kuemper and Niklas Backstrom] have been dynamite.”

Harding is happy to be back in the locker room.

“When I come to the rink, it’s my getaway,” Harding said. “We don’t talk about [MS]. We just deal with playing hockey here.”

Zach’s (almost) back

Left winger Zach Parise, who has missed 11 games because of a broken foot, skated for the first time Tuesday with assistant coach Darby Hendrickson.

“I can’t predict what that means, when we’ll see him in the lineup, but it was an important first step,” coach Mike Yeo said.

General Manager Chuck Fletcher said defenseman Jared Spurgeon, who has missed six games because of a foot injury, should start skating by the weekend and captain Mikko Koivu, who has missed five games because of a broken ankle, is “progressing and isn’t a long way off from getting on the ice.”

Prospect Brett Bulmer will miss six to eight weeks because of a sprained ankle and sprained knee. He is rehabbing in Des Moines.

“It’s better than initially feared,” Fletcher said. “It gives him a chance to play again this season.”

Ballard’s out

Defenseman Keith Ballard was scratched for the fourth consecutive game since being benched the last half of the Wild’s Jan. 7 game at Los Angeles. Jon Blum has played since.

“I understand for a bit it’s been up and down for me,” Ballard said. “In L.A., I was up and down, a few bad plays, a turnover in the second there and we’re in our zone for 2 ½ minutes.

“Since then, we’ve been winning games, so what do you change? It’s up to me to be a good teammate, to be positive, to work and to make sure that I’ve done everything I can on the ice and in the gym — I’ve watched a ton of video — and to make sure that when I do play, I’m ready to go. I’ve been through this before.”

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