Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Backstrom, Harding sidelined again; Blum, Gustafsson recalled

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news, Wild practice Updated: January 20, 2014 - 6:06 PM


Niklas Backstrom will be off the ice for a few days because he had another injection in what coach Mike Yeo is calling "a nagging lower-body injury," so the Wild has recalled Johan Gustafsson from AHL Iowa to back up Darcy Kuemper on Tuesday night in Dallas.

Also, Josh Harding, who practiced all last week, didn't practice today because Yeo said he's not feeling well again. Harding has missed nine consecutive games and 13 of the past 15 games since having a "minor adjustment" to his treatment for multiple sclerosis.

The net is Kuemper's for awhile, although Yeo expects Backstrom back for Wednesday's practice.

Kuemper has started four consecutive games and five of the past seven and is 4-1 in his past five with a 1.37 goals-against average and .954 save percentage.

"Sometimes your third goalie is called upon to back up and maybe play a game here or there, but he’s been thrown into more of a starting role for us and he’s taken that opportunity,” Yeo said. “Good for him and good for us. I just read a quote the other day that opportunities multiply as they’re seized and he’s living by that right now."

Kuemper is confident he can run with the net if needed. The Wild has no back-to-backs before the Olympics and he reminded he's been a No. 1 goalie at every level he's ever played at.

"Things have been going pretty good, so I’m confident every time I go in there," Kuemper said. "With the situation right now, I’ve gotten an opportunity to play, so I just have to do my best to give the team a chance to win every night."

Kuemper's turn in net began in L.A. because Backstrom had a cortisone shot the day before for this injury.

In Phoenix a few days later, Backstrom, who missed last year’s playoffs with a sports hernia, admitted to me he played the final month last season with a “tear in the core muscle.”

Backstrom, who played 42 of 48 games last season because of Harding’s absence due to complications from multiple sclerosis, had previously maintained the injury he sustained in warmups of Game 1 against Chicago was the first time he experienced any discomfort.

Backstrom believes the abdominal stiffness he's experiencing is related to last year’s injury.

“You have a problem somewhere and you compensate with something else, so I think it’s from that and related,” Backstrom said in Phoenix. “But compared to yesterday, today was a big difference, so I feel it’s heading in the right direction. I’m getting to where I want to be.”

Yeo basically called the Wild's goaltending situation day-to-day, and something that will be evaluated daily.

That's been the case all season frankly, but this is the first time Backstrom and Harding have been sidelined together.

GM Chuck Fletcher has talked trade with other teams, but last week two goalies were taken off the market essentially when Devan Dubnyk was traded from Edmonton to Nashville and Ben Scrivens was acquired by Edmonton from L.A.

Internally, the team has talked about maybe signing Jose Theodore if it needs insurance eventually. Theodore is a free agent living in South Florida. He works out daily and has been going on the ice all season.

Again though, it's hard for Fletcher to proceed with everything so in flux. You can't afford to sit there and suddenly have three goalies sitting on the roster on a permanent basis.

Fletcher said today that with Kuemper playing well, the anticipation that Backstrom will be back Wednesday and the fact there's not a lot of games left before the Olympics, "we feel we can [currently] manage the situation."

Jon Blum has again been recalled to give the Wild an extra defenseman. Yeo would not say if he'd play in Dallas. Jonas Brodin is fine by the way from the high-stick the other night.

Yeo also wouldn't say if maybe Mike Rupp would play. Rupp did take some shifts on the fourth line today.

Zach Parise's non-contact yellow jersey is in the washing machine and he's wearing a real practice sweater again. He took part in some regular shifts today and took part in game-like situations and bumping. He'll get more reps in Wednesday's practice and Yeo said there's a chance he returns Thursday against Chicago. He is definitely coming on the upcoming four-game trip if for some reason he doesn't play the Blackhawks.

He did not fly with the team to Dallas.

Matt Cooke didn't want to touch the whole Jamie Benn not being suspended thing today. Interestingly, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie, Ottawa's owner Eugene Melnyk and GM Bryan Murray were spotted at NHL headquarters today and the assumption is Melnyk planned to submit his forensics investigation into his contention that Cooke purposely sliced Erik Karlsson's Achilles' tendon last season.

And no, this isn't a joke.


Tennessee 13 4th Qtr 2:00
Jacksonville 21
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
New York 97 FINAL
Chicago 103
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Houston 90
Milwaukee 57 3rd Qtr
Sacramento 54
Oklahoma City 40 1st Qtr 1:08
Golden State 27
Florida 2 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 1
Colorado 0 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 1 FINAL
Carolina 4
Washington 5 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 4
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Montreal 1
St. Louis 2 1st Prd 4:52
Los Angeles 0
Edmonton 1 2nd Prd
San Jose 0
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 59 FINAL
Canisius 60
Temple 82 FINAL
Delaware 62
Long Island 69
Lehigh 65 FINAL
Quinnipiac 80
South Alabama 54 FINAL
Richmond 65
Seton Hall 89 FINAL
South Florida 69
Ga Southern 76 FINAL
Stetson 67
Yale 57 FINAL
Vermont 56
Cleveland State 54 FINAL
Virginia 70
Wright State 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 56
Nicholls 54 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 79
Morgan State 48 FINAL
Rider 62
Idaho State 72 FINAL
South Dakota St 75
Oakland City 52 FINAL
Austin Peay 76
Eureka 38 FINAL
Bradley 80
Appalachian St 65 FINAL
Charlotte 75
Connecticut 56 FINAL
Duke 66
Southern Miss 46 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Coastal Carolina 68 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Montana State 53 FINAL
South Dakota 55
UAB 70
Ohio 69 1st OT 2:09
Evansville 75
CS-Dominguez 17 2nd Half
Cal State Fullerton 30
Walla Walla 18 2nd Half
Idaho 49
DePaul 28 2nd Half
Oregon State 48
Nevada 19 2nd Half 18:40
Pacific 37
Portland State 22 2nd Half 15:40
San Francisco 52
CS-Bakersfield 18 2nd Half
Utah State 20
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 78 FINAL
Howard 48
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Ole Miss 68
Rider 67
Miami-Florida 74 FINAL
St Mary-KS 51 FINAL
South Dakota 115
William & Mary 71 FINAL
Wofford 51
Troy 82 FINAL
Evansville 94
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
USC 96
St Francis-PA 52 FINAL
Duquesne 92
Indiana-Southeast 45 FINAL
Delaware State 52 FINAL
Detroit 74
Tenn Temple 48 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 68
West Virginia St 58 FINAL
Radford 52
Fairfield 47 FINAL
Seton Hall 79
Dartmouth 44 FINAL
New Hampshire 60
Ball State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 59
Jacksonville 61 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Trine 45 FINAL
Western Mich 81
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Lipscomb 72
Samford 56 FINAL
Tulane 57
New Orleans 55 FINAL
Tulsa 78
Incarnate Word 61 FINAL
TX-Pan American 65
Ark-Little Rock 42 FINAL
South Dakota St 67
CS-Northridge 77 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
(19) Oklahoma St 55 FINAL
Weber State 49
Washington 69 FINAL
San Diego State 48
Cal Poly 68 FINAL
New Mexico 84
(10) Louisville 65 FINAL
Grand Canyon 51
Santa Clara 76 1st OT 0:02
Oregon 76


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