Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding will be out three games to adjust his multiple sclerosis treatment. This means Niklas Backstrom will be taking his spot. And Coach Mike Yeo hopes Backstrom will take full advantage of the chance to play regularly again.
Backstrom started the season as the No. 1 goalie but has had multiple injuries through the Wild’s first 36 games. Since then Harding has been on full time goalie duty, while Backstrom has been limited to 11 starts.
Now Backstrom is expected to start number 12 on Thursday night and might start all three games for Harding, including back-to-back games Sunday in New York and Monday in Philadelphia ( you can find Wild vs. Flyers tickets here.)
Backstrom is on pace for career-low numbers with a 2-5-2 record, .900 save percentage and 2.93 goals-against average. Harding has an 18-5-3 record, a .939 save percentage and a 1.51 goals-against average.
“I think the opportunity and the idea that it’s going to be more than one game (will help Backstrom),” Yeo said. “Obviously with the way Harding has gone and the way things have gone for most of the season for Backstrom, he’s kind of known ‘I come in, I get this one game, and everything is riding on this.’
“This may end up being a great thing for us where we get him right on top of his game again.”
Yeo spoke to the media for the first time since the team announced Wednesday that Harding was placed on injured reserve, which requires a player to sit out at least seven days. The Coach echoed general manager Chuck Fletcher’s comments Wednesday that the move was expected and that Harding should miss only the three games over the seven days.
“It’s something that’s a minor adjustment that we have to make,” Yeo said. “He feels great. He wants to make sure that everyone understands that. He’ll be ready to rejoin us right after Christmas.” That will be on December 27th in Winnipeg.