Niklas Backstrom’s answers sounded tentative at best.
The Minnesota Wild goalie was addressing the local media on Saturday afternoon, talking about his practice and the lower-body injury that made him a late Game 1 scratch. Backstrom is confident he’ll return. It just didn’t sound like he’s sure when.
“It’s getting better. It’s going to take time but it’s something you work on every day,” said Backstrom of the lower-body injury he sustained minutes before the Wild played the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 on Tuesday. “Every day you wake up, you hope it’s better.”
Is it better enough for him to start Game 3 tomorrow at Xcel Energy Center, where the Wild hope to put a dent in the Blackhawks’ 2-0 advantage in their Western Conference quarterfinal series?
“I think that’s something we’ll talk to the coaches about,” Backstrom told the local media. “It’s getting better. It’s going to be there sooner or later. Every day you try to make progress and we’ll see where we are tomorrow morning.”
Backstrom wasn’t sounding too positive that he’s a go for Game 3. Wild coach Mike Yeo told reporters that Backstrom looked “really good. He’s looked really good every day.” But when asked when he’d decide his Sunday starter, Yeo wasn’t biting.
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“Sometime before game time tomorrow,” he said with a chuckle.
If Josh Harding gets his third consecutive start, he’ll be ready. The backup goaltender, who got the late, unexpected nod for Game 1, was strong in both contests in Chicago. Sure, he gave up four goals against the Blackhawks in a 5-2 loss on Friday, but it was hard to put the blame on him.
“Last night, we were not good in front of him. We gave up chance after chance, and he was standing tall for us. And the goals they scored, he had no chance,” Yeo said. “We left him out to dry. But I thought he played fantastic. Through two games, he’s been very, very good for us.”
Harding will have to be very, very good again as the Wild try to claw their way back into this series. They’ll have the home crowd on their side on Sunday, a crowd that will likely be boisterous with the Wild’s first postseason appearance in five years. The Wild hope to draw from that, and reward it.
“Everyone knows what’s at stake here,” Devin Setoguchi told local reporters. “It’s tough to fall back 3-0. Everyone knows what we need to do and we just need to do it. We need to match their game but also worry about our game and how we can get better. It’s nice to come home and play in front of your crowd. That’s one of the more fun parts of playing in the playoffs. I know they’ll be ready to go.”