Niklas Backstrom hasn't played since giving up six goals at Pittsburgh on Jan. 13, an outing that precipitated the Wild's decision to acquire Devan Dubnyk from Arizona.
Dubnyk started his ninth consecutive game Saturday night, a 1-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. And with Darcy Kuemper set to rejoin the Wild after a fifth conditioning stint start Saturday with the AHL's Iowa Wild in which he allowed five goals on 26 shots in a 5-1 road loss to the Toronto Marlies, three goalies will be a crowd in Minnesota.
"For sure it's weird, but at the end of the day, it is what it is," Backstrom said Saturday. "You can't really do anything about it. You just live with it."
Wild coach Mike Yeo has said he doesn't yet have a plan on how he will manage three goalies. Dubnyk almost certainly will carry the No. 1 load, but it's unknown yet if he will alternate Kuemper (2-3 in five Iowa starts with a 3.22 goals-against average and .891 save percentage) or Backstrom as backups or continually scratch Backstrom, the soon-to-be-37-year-old winningest goalie in Wild history (194 wins and 28 shutouts in nine seasons).
"They haven't told me anything. I have no idea. Maybe I need to start to read what you guys write so I know what's going on here," Backstrom said, laughing.
Backstrom (5-7-3 this season with a 3.04 GAA and .887 save percentage) has a no-move clause, meaning the Wild can't simply send him to Iowa. Asked if he ever would accept a conditioning stint just to play games there like Kuemper did, Backstrom said: "I don't know. No one has really said anything, so it's hard to pretty much have an opinion and know what the options are."
Regardless, Backstrom said he will continue to be professional and support Dubnyk and his teammates.
"We're a team here. It's never one guy. It's never two guys. It's always a team," Backstrom said. "Team wins, team loses, and that's how you try to live when you play and that's how you try to live when you don't play. It's always team first. It's not about throwing somebody under the bus or doing something stupid. It's about the players in here taking care of each other, and that's what we take pride of in this group."
Folin sits again
With Yeo hesitant to fiddle with a winning lineup and third-pair defensemen Nate Prosser and Matt Dumba having played three solid games in a row, rookie defenseman Christian Folin was scratched for a fourth consecutive game Saturday.
Yeo said there are benefits to Folin practicing in Minnesota as opposed to playing at Iowa, but in his next breath, Yeo said, "I don't want a young kid sitting around and not playing for an extended period of time."
Yeo said, though, that having Folin on the roster "prevents [Dumba] from having that sense of security. He knows that there's a guy lurking and waiting to get back in the lineup."
New mask for 'Giraffe'
Dubnyk, nicknamed "Giraffe" during his junior career because of his long torso, unveiled his new giraffe-inspired mask Saturday, but his new pads haven't been measured and approved yet by NHL headquarters in Toronto.
Dubnyk said there's no rush: "I'm pretty bad at breaking pads in anyway. Even when they do show up, you'll probably see them a lot in practice before they make a game appearance."
• With forward Matt Cooke injured, Ryan Carter said it's incumbent on him and others to pick up their physical games.
"Cookie's physical and when he's on the ice, the other team's always thinking. We'll miss that dimension," Carter said. "It's going to be on some of us guys to pick it up, [Kyle Brodziak, Erik Haula], myself, maybe some of the other bigger bodies like [Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter] to carry the load."
• Justin Fontaine (groin) missed his third consecutive game but is close to a return.