Backstrom, Harding both sidelined

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 20, 2014 - 11:54 PM
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Wild goalies Josh Harding (pictured) and Niklas Backstrom each missed practice, forcing the team to take third goalie Darcy Kuemper and fourth goalie Johan Gustafsson to Texas for the Wild’s game with the Stars on Tuesday.

Photo: Ann Heisenfelt, Associated Press

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– Wild coach Mike Yeo described the unusual state of his team’s goaltending Monday as a “day-to-day situation where we just evaluate it every day and figure out where we go from there.”

That’s been much of this season.

At one point or another, the Wild has been without either Niklas Backstrom or Josh Harding. On Monday, the team was without both.

Backstrom and Harding each missed practice, forcing the team to take third goalie Darcy Kuemper and fourth goalie Johan Gustafsson to Texas for the Wild’s game at the Stars on Tuesday.

Backstrom had his second injection this month to try to relieve soreness from what Yeo is calling “a nagging lower-body injury,” while Harding is not feeling well again.

Harding, who practiced all last week, has missed nine consecutive games and 13 of the past 15 since having a “minor adjustment” to his treatment for multiple sclerosis.

Yeo expects Backstrom to be back for practice Wednesday. On Jan. 7, Backstrom couldn’t start in Los Angeles after having a cortisone shot the day before.

On Jan. 8, Backstrom said he was experiencing abdominal stiffness he believed stemmed from offseason surgery to repair a sports hernia.

Backstrom missed last season’s playoffs and admitted Jan. 8 that he played the final month of last season with a “tear in the core muscle.”

Still, Backstrom started against the Coyotes on Jan. 9 and made 39 saves in a victory.

In the meantime, Kuemper, who is 4-1 in his past five starts with a 1.37 goals-against average and .954 save percentage, will make his fifth consecutive start in Dallas.

“I just read a quote the other day that opportunities multiply as they’re seized, and he’s living by that right now,” Yeo said of Kuemper.

The Wild has won seven of its past nine and Kuemper is confident he can continue to play at a high level.

“I’ve been the No. 1 guy every level I’ve played, so it’s more of a role I’m used to,” he said.

Earlier this month, the Wild had internally discussed the potential of signing free agent Jose Theodore, who won 15 games playing for the Wild in 2010-11.

General Manager Chuck Fletcher said Monday, “We feel we can manage this situation and get to the Olympic break and hope that our health situation changes for the good.”

Etc.

• Zach Parise, who will miss his 14th consecutive game Tuesday, began practicing fully Monday. He was able to take contact and participate in more gamelike situations.

Parise is expected to get more reps in practice Wednesday, and Yeo said there’s a chance he will play Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

• The Wild recalled defenseman Jon Blum.

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