Wild not worried about who starts in net

Wild not worried about who starts in net
May 2, 2014, 10:00 am
Share This Post
Nina Falcone

No Niklas Backstrom, no Josh Harding, possibly no Darcy Kuemper.

The Minnesota Wild are entering their second-round matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks much like the way they did in 2013 when Backstrom went down with an injury just before puck drop in Game 1; a series that only lasted five games before the eventual Stanley Cup champions advanced.

Now here we are, one year later, and Minnesota's goaltending situation still appears to have a big question mark over it.

Or so we think. 

"Ironically it's not that much of a challenge," coach Mike Yeo said Thursday. "I even heard a couple of our players joking about it right now because this has been ongoing not just this year, but something we've had to deal with the last couple years. And I give our players a great deal of credit for how they've dealt with it."

[MORE: New year, new results? Wild look to reverse the narrative]

The Wild seemed to have more of a 'been there, done that' approach as questions poured in about what they'll do if Kuemper — who was pulled from Game 7 against the Colorado Avalanche with an injury — is unable to return in the net for Game 1 against the Blackhawks.

"I think we're sort of used to that, we haven't even thought about that," Mikko Koivu said. "We changed the goalie (in Game 7) and we moved forward. Obviously it's not an easy situation for (Ilya Bryzgalov) to come in and then go to overtime, but the way he handled that situation was great. So as players I don't think we even thought about it at that point."

When Kuemper left the ice, all signs pointed to an Avalanche victory.

The Wild were trailing as Bryzgalov got between the pipes for the first time since April 19, and Colorado was just over eight minutes from advancing.

"You know what (Colorado was) saying on that bench in that situation: 'A cold goalie coming in, let's make sure we get some shots,' " Yeo said.

[RELATED: Tale of the Tape: Blackhawks-Wild]

But the Wild buckled down, kept the puck out of their zone and went on to push the game into overtime before scoring the eventual game-winner.

"I think an awful lot of credit has to go to the guys and the way they play the game in front of (our goaltenders)," Yeo said. "Those guys have done the job, but our team has played a game in front of them that have given them a chance to be successful, too. And that game hasn't changed from one goalie to the next and I think that's where we've matured a little bit as a team."

Minnesota proved in their opening-round series that a little adversity won't deter them from their big-picture goal. Now they hope that same approach translates into their game against the Blackhawks. 

"We're a little bit more comfortable in our own skin where we can play against Colorado and Chicago and there shouldn't be a lot of changes to our game, either," Yeo continued. "We should go out there and try to put our best game on the table and be confident with that."