The National Hockey League has released their three stars of the week. Minnesota Wild starting goaltender Niklas Backstrom has been named the NHL’s “Third Star” for his 3-0 performance in net this week.
In his three wins, Backstrom posted a 2.00 goals against average and .914 save percentage while making 64 saves and allowing a total of six goals in games against Calgary, Phoenix and Edmonton—a team he has historically dominated throughout his NHL career. Two of the six goals allowed by the Finnish netminder came through no fault of his own, as one came off an awkward dump-in attempt in Phoenix that found its way through Backstrom as he hugged the post. The other goal occurred in last night’s matchup with the Oilers that saw Sam Gagner pinball the puck from behind the cage, off Wild defenseman Ryan Suter’s stick, and behind Backstrom into the back of the net.
Backstrom, 35, is 9-5-2 so far this season, with a 2.21 goals against average and .917 save percentage. Minnesota’s No. 1 netminder is in the final season of his $6 million contract and will likely be re-signed in the offseason due to the uncertainty surrounding backup goalie Josh Harding. Backstrom’s career numbers include a 169-114-44 record, with a 2.41 goals against average, .918 save percentage and 26 shutouts. Having played his entire career with Minnesota, Backstrom is the franchise leader in wins, wins in a season (37) and shutouts in a season (8).
Though Backstrom is one of the worst at the position when it comes to the shootout, when he’s on his game, there’s no better goalie in the league.
Finally, check out this beautiful glove save in a win on last year’s Hockey Day America game against the Boston Bruins. Can’t you just feel Milan Lucic’s frustration?