The Minnesota Wild have won seven straight games, and they owe a lot of their recent success to the strong play of goaltender Niklas Backstrom. The Wild made an excellent choice in leaving Backstrom in Minnesota as they traveled to face the Dallas Stars Friday night. Not only does Backstrom get a night off, but he is spared from the wear-and-tear of a short road trip as well. Matt Hackett will make his season debut in goal, and will be backed up by Darcy Kuemper.
To say Backstrom has been a workhorse for the Wild this season would be one of the season’s biggest understatements. He has been in net for 27 of Minnesota’s 32 games this season, with Kuemper and Josh Harding also seeing some action. Backstrom is 18-7-2 with a 2.32 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. He has one shutout and has started all seven of the games on the current win streak.
The Wild have battling back-and-forth with the Vancouver Canucks for the top spot in the Northwest Division, and currently find themselves in fourth place with a two-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings. In their last meeting with the Stars the Wild saw their offense come alive, winning by a 7-4 score. Team coaching staff made a great decision here, showing that the team’s main goal is making the playoffs and going deep and that pursuing winning streaks is best left to other teams.
Hackett has a 19-20-3 record with the Houston Aeros of the AHL this season. The Wild got more good news this week when Harding was able to return to the ice for an informal practice. There is still no timetable for his return but he appears to be making some progress.