Found December 16, 2011 on Fox Sports North:
Niklas Backstrom has been here before, but it has been a few years since his name was tossed around when the Vezina Trophy was being discussed. It was the 2008-09 season, and Backstrom was coming off back-to-back 30-plus win seasons. He put up tremendous numbers on a team that missed the playoffs and eventually finished second to Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins.The next two years were tough on Backstrom as he went just 48-46-13 combined with a 2.70 GAA and a .907 save percentage. This season, however, it appears the native of Finland is back in top form, and he figures to be in Vezina conversation once again.As the season approaches the halfway point, Backstrom is 11-6-3 with a 2.12 GAA and a .930 save percentage. Both the GAA and save percentage are ranked in the NHLs top 10, and, more important, the Wild have the best record in the league.Minnesota has seen both Josh Harding and Matt Hackett turn in brilliant performances this season in relief of Backstrom, and there does seem to be an embarrassment of riches between the pipes for the Wild. However it seems the Unflappable Fin, with his calming personality, is still the man they will lean on when push comes to shove. He is the subject of this edition of 5 Questions.1.KG: How much fun are you having this season compared to the last couple? BACKSTROM: First off, we are playing professional hockey and we all need to be thankful for that. But the game is about trying to win, and this season has been great so far because we are doing so well as a team. It's been a lot more fun to come to the rink, and it's been a lot more fun outside of the rink when you run into the fans. Everyone is very excited about our team right now.2.KG: How important is the next stretch of games knowing you are missing so many key players right now, like Mikko Koivu, Guillaume Latendresse, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Devin Setoguchi? BACKSTROM: It's tough to see your teammates go down with injuries, especially when it is guys that make such a difference for us. It's part of the game, and we all need to pick it up right now while they are out. This will be a major challenge for us, but we will be stronger down the road for having gone through it. Our team right now has some talented, young players, and it seems like every time a new guy comes up from Houston they are ready to go and continue to help us win.3.KG: Big road trip coming up next week. What rink is your favorite to play in? BACKSTROM: (Laughing) I like to play here in Minnesota. We have such amazing fans. It doesn't matter where you go, it is always exciting. Earlier this week, we traveled to Winnipeg, and that was an awesome experience. The building was really loud, and the fans there really were into the game. It felt like a playoff game. It will be really cool when we are the same division with those guys and we are playing them six times a year.4.KG: What has it been like playing for Mike Yeo? BACKSTROM: He is very demanding, but in a good way. The way he works every day and pushes our team makes us better. He is a really good coach; he is tough on you, but he knows how to get the most out of everyone in this room. He is fair, and I think everyone in this locker room respects him and wants to make him happy. Mike Yeo has made a huge difference for our hockey team, and we are lucky to have him as our head coach.5.KG: What is your Christmas wish? BACKSTROM: It's more about family. I have many family members traveling over from Finland, so that will make this year extra special. I haven't seen them in a long time, so I can't wait to see them. It will be nice to be at home for a couple of days and just relax. I love playing hockey, but I guess my Christmas wish is to be able to forget about hockey for a couple of days and just be with my family while enjoying some really good food.

Koivu added to Wild's skating wounded

FRIDAY'S STORY LINE: The injuries keep piling up for the Minnesota Wild. Center Mikko Koivu will not play Saturday against the New York Islanders. Minnesota's captain, who leads the team with 28 points, was injured during Thursday's loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, and coach Mike Yeo says Koivu is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. "You see him go off the ice...

Health Update For The Minnesota Wild

from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune, Pierre-Marc Bouchard suffered a broken nose and cut lip Tuesday night when he was driven face-first into the boards by a Winnipeg defenseman. But the Wild winger said he thinks he has avoided what everyone who knows his history fears—a concussion. Unfortunately for the Wild, Guillaume Latendresse hasn’t. One game after returning from...

Wild problems mounting? Captain Mikko Koivu injured

Captain Mikko Koivu injured himself late in Wednesday night's loss to Chicago.

M. Ice Hockey. Palmer Set to Make NHL Debut Saturday

Making a grand return to his home state, former Miami University standout Jarod Palmer is slated to make his National Hockey League debut Saturday as he was called up to the Minnesota Wild, Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher announced Friday.

John Madden puts his money where his mouth is

NFL icon wants concussion issue treated more seriously, and uses his video game to make the point

Band-Aids run short, but Wild presses on

Mikko Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard are among the key forwards out with injuries, prompting more calls to Houston.

Islanders-Wild Preview

The Minnesota Wild are trying to regroup after back-to-back losses slowed their momentum. Coping with a slew of injuries may pose a major obstacle to getting it back. The Wild look to withstand the absences of as many as four forwards when they host the struggling New York Islanders on Saturday night. No team has more points than Minnesota (20-8-4), but the club is on the brink...

Injuries keep coming for Wild

The latest is captain Mikko Koivu, who hurt his leg in overtime against Chicago. First word is it isn't serious.

Depleted Wild come up short in 2-1 shootout loss to the Islanders

For any of you TV trivia buffs out there, can you give me the name of the theme song to the hit TV show M*A*S*H?  No, its not called the M*A*S*H theme song, but one of the most depressing titles in music history; Suicide Is Painless by Johnny Mandel and Mike Altman.  The song choice is appropriate for the show that had a strong anti-war message as it plotted the difficult journey...

John Jaeckel: Too Sweet

I’m going glass half full this morning. And I’m sure some will say that’s being negative or pessimistic. Bottom line, the Hawks took 2 road points last night against a very good team—and the only team ahead of them in the Western Conference— the Minnesota Wild. One huge difference between this year’s Hawks club and last years is just that: points...

New York Islanders (9-14-6) at Minnesota Wild (20-8-4), 8 p.m. (ET)

The fist-place Minnesota Wild will try to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season when they host the lowly New York Islanders for this evening's clash at Xcel Energy Center.
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