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A Turbulent Night In Phoenix

Todd Varga


blog-0365358001331319324.jpgThis is getting a bit ridiculous.

This was my thought after Wild goaltender Josh Harding was helped off the ice last night in the 2nd period of the Wild’s Shootout victory over the Phoenix Coyotes. The injury didn’t look serious as Harding was skated off the ice, but looked pretty painful for the 4-5 minutes before Harding left. For those unaware, the Wild’s number one net minder Niklas Backstrom is currently out with a pulled groin. With Harding hurt, the goaltending burden falls to youngster Matt Hackett, who has looked good for the most part. For Hackett, and the Wild, having Hackett shoulder the goaltending load could be a blessing. Harding is a free agent at the end of this year, and if Hackett can prove he is a capable NHL goalie, Harding may become expendable. There are other scenarios that can play out, especially if Harding is resigned (He has made it clear he loves Minnesota, and wants to play with the Wild), but that is another debate for another day (more than likely an offseason day- stay tuned). The main problem the Wild are facing is backing up Matt Hackett. The other young goaltending stud the Wild have is Darcy Kuemper, who is also hurt. The only other goalie in the system that would possibly fit at the NHL level would be Dennis Endras who is on loan in Finland. More than likely, Harding will be on the bench and everyone will be praying that nothing happens to Hackett, but it is definitely a situation the Wild is going to have to deal with down the stretch.

The ridiculousness of the Josh Harding injury was exaggerated by the events that happened before it. Jared Spurgeon, the heart of the Wild’s new look defense core, was a healthy scratch due to illness. Tyler Cuma was called up from Houston to fill in, but missed the flight from Houston to Phoenix and was unavailable. Kurtis Foster is having terrible back problems and really shouldn’t be on the ice, but was suited up to play. The Wild ended up playing the game with 5 ½ defensemen. Foster had 13:26 TOI, while the other 5 defensemen all played 30+ minutes. To add to that, Devin Setoguchi missed a good chunk of the second period as he apparently caught Spurgeon’s illness, and was running from the bench to throw up in trash cans.

How ridiculous that this is the game out of the last 5 the Wild actually win.

Mike Yeo called this a big character win in his post game press conference. Yeah, I’d go with that.

Hopefully it is something the Wild can build on, and string together some wins. If not, they can keep falling up the draft boards and maybe end up with a top 5 draft pick.

Either way, the Wild’s last 14 games should be entertaining in some form or another.

Thank you greatly to everyone for reading. If you’ve been reading regularly I’m sorry for the abrupt gap in posts. My wife and I are in the midst of trying to buy a house, and I had a big job interview this past week, so I had to put this on hold. It was a very hectic and crazy week. I will be back with a new blog on Monday, so please give it a read when you see it.

Please feel free to leave comments and questions, I love talking hockey with everybody.

Have a great weekend,

Todd Varga

On twitter @Wild_Halo


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I never expected the Wild to win that game, especially with Koivo out too. I also find it interesting that the Wild knew Foster was hurt when they traded for him. How did he ever pass the fitness test, unless they accepted him as a salary dump for the Devils.

I still think that the Wild might consider trading Backstrom in the off season, asking him to waive his NTC, and going with the lesser expensive Harding and Hackett, especially when the main goal will be to sign Parise this summer.

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That's kind of how I feel everytime they hit the ice these days. My thought on Foster and Veilleux for the were that they were a salary dump coming back the other way. I don't see either of them being in Minnesota next year (though Veilleux has actually played well). If they can find a team that is desperate enough for a goalie (Washington,Tampa Bay, Columbus to name a few), I think they would consider moving Backstrom- especially if it allowed them to be prominent players for both Parise and Shea Weber. To that point I really think that this is Matt Hackett's shot. I think the guy is capable of being an NHL goalie, and now he has the opportunity to prove it.

We'll see what happens this summer. It's gonna be interesting for sure.

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