After missing today’s practice, the Minnesota Wild have officially listed franchise No. 1 goalie Niklas Backstrom as “day-to-day” with a knee strain.
Backstrom would leave yesterday’s 3-2 loss late in the first period after being run by former teammate Eric Nystrom, who had been hauled down by Wild defenseman Keith Ballard on an attempted breakaway. Josh Harding, in a most unenviable position, was forced to come into the game cold to face Nystrom on a penalty shot. The Predators forward would score and Harding would stop 20 shots in an otherwise perfect relief of Backstrom, but still took the loss.
It’s unknown what move Minnesota may make next, but the only logical step would be to call up former Western Hockey League and Canadian Hockey League Goalie of the Year Darcy Kuemper. It appears, as of now, No. 3 Iowa Wild goalie John Curry has been taking shots in practice. However, since he has no contract with the big club itself, he won’t be an option–unless there’s something Wild GM Chuck Fletcher isn’t telling us. No, the Wild will likely evaluate Backstrom tonight or tomorrow to see if he’s able to backup Harding. If he can’t, Kuemper will likely get the call.
In other Wild news, it looks as if Wild head coach Mike Yeo is doing some line tinkering. According to the Pioneer Press’ Chad Graff, here’s what Minnesota’s lines have mostly been looking like today:
With that said, it appears the extremely talented, yet highly inconsistent Marco Scandella will be a healthy scratch tomorrow night against the Winnipeg Jets. In his place will likely be 2012 7th overall pick Mathew Dumba, who will play his second career regular season NHL game. Dumba should have confidence going into this one, as he scored against the Jets’ A Squad in Minnesota’s 4-1 preseason victory in Winnipeg back on September 19th.
Tomorrow will be nearly a must-win game for Minnesota. As it is, the Wild are the only team in the Western Conference yet to win a game this season. Minnesota can eat up four points tomorrow night–taking two for them and two away from Winnipeg. It’s only going to happen by playing the right way out of the gate and sustaining it for a full 60 minutes, something the team has yet to prove itself capable of doing so far this season. Can they do it against the Jets? We’ll have to wait until tomorrow night to find out.
Follow Dakota Case at Twitter.com/Dakota_case