Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 11/5/11
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Not all controversies are created equal. In fact, some of them aren't even controversies. Like the Minnesota Wild goalie situation, for example. To be fair, Minnesota sports fans particularly those invested in the NFL's Vikings are predisposed to playing-time drama. But Donovan McNabb versus Christian Ponder this is not. For starters, the Wild are actually winning. Whether it's Niklas Backstrom or Josh Harding in net, the final score is ultimately what matters. And for the past week, Harding has delivered victories. "We have to think of Backs, we have to think of the team and we also have to think of Hards," Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said on Friday. "He has earned the opportunity to play." Yeo doesn't have a vendetta here. He isn't trying to blacklist Backstrom. As he said on Friday, Backstrom will be between the pipes on Tuesday in Calgary. Well, probably. Yeo wants two go-to goalies. As he alluded to on Thursday, the days of the 70-game netminder are virtually over. And as far as Wild players are concerned, they've got two of the best. "Not many teams in the league can say they've got two first goalies," winger Guillaume Latendresse said. "Backy's an All Star, and Harding is becoming an All Star. He's a great goalie, has a lot of skills. We have two good goalies, two great goalies, actually." Yes, Harding played in his fourth consecutive game in Saturday's 2-1 win over the St. Louis Blues. Heck, it'd be tough to argue with Yeo if he wanted to make it five in a row. After all, Harding came into Saturday leading the league in save percentage and second to only Nikolai Khabibulin in goals-against average. He then stopped 30 of 31 St. Louis shots, giving him 126 saves on 129 shots during his four-start streak. Was Harding's performance enough to make Yeo hedge on playing Backstrom against the Flames? "Obviously, we'll talk about it," Yeo said. "But I don't think so." Harding has allowed just three goals combined in a pair of games against the Detroit Red Wings, one against the Vancouver Canucks and one Saturday's victory over the Blues. Sure, Backstrom was solid previously, bu why wouldn't Yeo ride the hot hand? Using the goalie or the quarterback, or the closer, or whoever who is playing better seems to be the path of least resistance when winning is the primary objective. What makes that a controversy? Even Backstrom understands how it works. "It is good for us, like last year I think in this league you need two goalies playing well," Backstrom said. "It's not like you're having anymore like (Martin) Brodeur playing 75 games every year. Well (Miikka Kiprusoff) maybe, but every other team you have two goalies who pretty much play." Granted, Yeo is walking a fine line at least in reference to Backstrom's feelings. But it's more balance beam than tightrope as long as the Wild are winning. And head coaches aren't paid to worry about feelings. "Everyone wants to play and a goalie there is only one guy that is going to play and if you don't play you try to work hard and be ready," Backstrom said. "It is a part of the game and the biggest thing for everyone is that the team is playing well and that the team is winning and when the team does that everything is a lot easier." Yeo won't leave Backstrom to rot on the bench. And Harding won't take offense when Backstrom returns to action. "He's been awesome this whole year, that's definitely being overlooked," Harding said. "Nowadays you need two goalies that can play. We'll go back to him at some point and I'm sure he'll be ready to go." If Yeo leaves Harding in net after several bad performances, then there's a controversy. If Yeo goes back to Backstrom and sticks with him for several weeks despite mediocre play, there's a controversy. The Minnesota Wild on a four-game winning streak, their longest since last January? That's not a controversy. That's called results. Sarah Servetnick contributed to this story
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