Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 12/16/11
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.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

DeMarcus Cousins traded to Pelicans for players, picks

West teammates hilariously celebrate Durant and Westbrook oop

Report: Romo willing to rework contract to facilitate trade

Lonzo Ball's father says son is better than Curry right now

Report: Rams could have interest in Cousins if Goff flops

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Mike Trout talks about 'frustrating' struggles of Angels

Report: Butler to Celtics talk will loom over All-Star week

Report: Carmelo expects to remain with Knicks

James Harden: ‘For sure’ I’m the best player in the world

Report: Pats expected to make good effort to keep Bennett

Glenn Robinson III dunks over three people to win Slam Dunk Contest

Is the NBA All-Star Game worth saving?

There will never be another Dirk Nowitzki

The Rewind: Michael Jordan's last All-Star Game

Best of Yardbarker: NBA All-Star Games past, present and future

Eat, Drink, Watch: Everything goes better with a side of New Orleans

Box Score 2/17: Happy birthday, Michael Jordan (and welcome to 1000 point club, Sid!)

The 'Michael Jordan might still win the Dunk contest if he entered' quiz

How to reboot NBA All-Star Weekend

Second-year NBA stars who can salvage the season

Observations from a day at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Box Score 2/16: Getting ready for the ASG

Too much to Process: Can Simmons match the Embiid hype?

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of YB: NBA All-Star Games past, present and future

Who will break these NBA All-Star Game records?

Is the NBA All-Star Game worth saving?

There will never be another Dirk Nowitzki

The Rewind: Michael Jordan's last All-Star Game

Eat, Drink, Watch: Everything goes better with a side of New Orleans

How to reboot NBA All-Star Weekend

Baseball movies you can stream now to hold you over until Opening Day

Second-year NBA stars who can salvage the season

Observations from a day at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker