Found December 03, 2013 on
Fox Sports North:
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Niklas Backstrom returned to the Minnesota Wild this offseason, re-signing with the only NHL team he's known for three years to provide stability at the goaltender position.
Josh Harding was the semi-unknown at the position. Harding missed most of last season to deal with multiple sclerosis and worked during the offseason to be ready for Minnesota in 2013-14 as the backup to Backstrom.
Two months into the season, Harding has played in all but six games for the Wild, who have allowed the sixth-fewest goals in the NHL at 2.17 per game. Backstrom started the season's first two games and then went out with an injury in the third game and in entered Harding.
Minnesota wouldn't be where it is without Harding.
Harding posted his third shutout of the season Monday, making 21 saves in a 2-0 win against the Philadelphia Flyers. With the win, Harding already set a career-high for wins in a season as he moved to 14-4-3 in 22 games this year. Harding's previous high was in 2011-12 when he played a total of 34 games all season and went 13-12-4.
"I'd like for him to make it really tough for him to say that next year by finishing it off," Wild coach Mike Yeo said of Harding setting a career-high in wins Monday. "We've got a long season here left, and obviously we've been challenged early in the year with (Backstrom) as far as him being hurt. Very few games has he been healthy for us, and Josh has really allowed us to be where we're at right now.
"If it wasn't for him, we'd be in a lot of trouble. He's played some great hockey, and I think all his teammates recognize that."
The rest of the league might be starting to recognize Harding's accomplishments as well. Monday was the 10th shutout of his career and he's tied for the most among NHL goaltenders in shutouts this season.
Harding is tied for third in the league with his 14 wins. He owns the best goals-against average for anyone with at least five games played with a 1.45 GAA and his .939 save percentage is third in the league for goaltenders with at least five games played.
He admitted after Monday's game he didn't envision this start for himself personally, but he isn't letting himself think about any career bests at this point in the season.
"Maybe not this, but right now there's no time to look at that," Harding said of his start. "I say that quite a bit, but it's so true. You can't look back otherwise it's going to come back to haunt you. No, just having fun with it, trying to keep the guys in it every night."
Minnesota returned to more of its tighter, defensive play as a team Monday and when Jason Pominville scored 3 minutes, 52 seconds into the third period, it was the first time in eight games the Wild scored first. Minnesota outshot Philadelpia 15-10 through the first two periods. Charlie Coyle followed Pominville's goal with another 57 seconds later and Harding did the rest.
Harding made a few big saves in the period, particularly on a Philadelphia power-play three minutes after Coyle's goal.
Philadelphia forward Jakub Voracek was wide open after a cross-ice pass and Harding went diving across the crease to knock the puck away.
"Desperation," Harding said of the play. "You see an empty net and you see a guy with the puck and just throw your body over and it hit me. Fortunately it stayed out. It's just one of those ones where, no skill to that one, just got lucky."
Harding wasn't sure how he blocked it, was just grateful he did.
"I don't know, but my finger hurt so I'm thinking I either landed on it or got it," Harding said.
However he makes the stops, Harding's play and Minnesota's strong defensive game is giving the team confidence.
"You look at tonight, we get two and we win a game," Pominville said. "Overall we're a really solid defensive team and we might not need three or four to win a game. We just need a couple."
Having Harding in net has helped as Backstrom has dealt with injuries.
"He's been obviously great. I think the numbers show that," Mikko Koivu said. "But I think he's just been calm and the way he plays the puck, there's not a lot of rebounds either. It's a good sign for us obviously to have two good goaltenders. Obviously it gives you the confidence as a team and playing in front of him. Like I said, just huge knowing the way he's been playing. I think the biggest thing is to get the confidence and feeling every night before the game."
BEST OF MAXIM
“Margaritaville” is invading the Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday night and in honor of Jimmy Buffett’s concert at the Minnesota Wild’s home arena, the team created a customized and truly horrific jersey paying tribute to the laid-back, island-happy vibe that is the prevailing theme of the crooner’s entire song catalog. And yes, it is absurdly […]The post GAH! Minnesota...
Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding makes an amazing save as he robs Jakub Voracek. By the way, Harding is leading the NHL in shutouts and goals against average. Harding was also named one of the "Three Stars" for the month of November.
Jimmy Buffett is set to play at the Minnesota Wild’s home at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Tuesday while the Wild will be in Chicago to take on the Blackhawks.
Because they won’t be in attendance to take in the full “Parrothead” experience, the Wild will debut their “Parrothead” sweaters at the United Center for warmups. A short sleeved Hawaiian button-up would...
Jimmy Buffett is set to perform at the Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota tomorrow and the Wild are trying to make sure that Buffett’s music isn’t the only thing that is reminiscent of paradise on December 3rd in St. Paul.
Xcel tweeted out the above photo showing a picture of a unique Wild jersey made especially for Buffett, one that features a Hawaiian shirt theme. It looks so...
In honor of Jimmy Buffett's Tuesday night concert at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, the Minnesota Wild have created a customized team jersey in the style of a Hawaiian T-shirt.Photo via Twitter / @XcelEnergyCenter.Will have to see what it looks like on Jimmy. If it looks cool, maybe they should make a set of these for the whole team to wear.H/T NIS.
Visit us at holdoutsports...
After playing an ugly road game on Saturday and winning, the Philadelphia Flyers played another ugly road game tonight. Unfortunately, they didn’t walk away with the win, as the Minnesota Wild produced a 2-0 victory on home ice. Josh Harding stopped 21 shots for the shutout, while both Jason Pominville and Charlie Coyle beat Ray Emery, who had 19 saves in the loss. Just under...
The NHL, and AHL, has seen a lot of ugly jerseys over the years. From Vancouver to New York, NHL teams have tried to out due each other with the ugliest jerseys. Thank goodness the Bruins have never joined in on that race. As you can see below the Minnesota Wild are the newest team to release an ugly jersey. Its the worst we've seen in years. A custom made Hawaii jersey for Jimmy...
The Minnesota Wild have had a pretty good season so far on the new jersey front. The new white away sweaters, in my humble opinion, were impeccably designed and look really awesome. So awesome, in fact, that the team decided to design another jersey to build celebrity endorsement.
Tonight, the Xcel Energy Center will host a Jimmy Buffett concert after the Wild played the Philadelphia...
The Minnesota Wild have limped into December after being the league's hottest team for most of last month.
The Philadelphia Flyers put together an impressive November to get out of the Metropolitan Division basement, and they feel like they've entered this month heading in the right direction.
The Wild look to avoid a fifth straight loss Monday night when they host a Flyers...
The 3rd star of the month in November carries his fine play into December.
Jason Pominville and Charlie Coyle scored 57 seconds apart early in the third period to break open a defensive standoff and lift the Minnesota Wild to a 2-0 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night.
The teams had combined for only 28 shots when Pominville collected Mikko Koivu's pass in the crease and pushed it past a helpless Ray Emery 3:52 into the third period...
Going into last week, after the Winnipeg game, I tweeted that the Wild may likely not win another game all week. Call it a prediction, but the writing was on the wall. The Minnesota Wild is just not that good of a team yet. Sure they can beat teams below them in the standings, they should. One could argue that the converse should then also be true for the Wild i.e. not beating...
Minnesota Wild (15-8-5) 35pts 4th in the Central
2.32 Goals For (23rd)
2.Goals Against (8th)
20.6% Power Play (8th)
78.5% Penalty Kill (25th)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #11 Zach Parise ~ 11G 12A = 23pts
2. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 6G 16A = 22pts
3. #29 Jason Pominville ~ 13G 5A = 18pts
4. #22 Nino Niederreiter ~ 5G 10A = 15pts
5. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 0G 15A...
FLYERS-WILD GAME PREVIEW (9:30 AM EST)
In the second installment of their six-game, cross-country road trip, the Philadelphia Flyers (12-12-2) are in St. Paul to take on the Minnesota Wild (15-8-5). Game time is 8:00 p.m. EST. The match will be televised locally on Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia and nationally on NBC Sports Network.
This is the first of two meetings between...