There were a lot of people who gave the Minnesota Wild a chance against the Chicago Blackhawks during their first-round NHL playoff series. The hopes of those people were pretty much dashed before Game 1 even started when goaltender Niklas Backstrom got hurt in pregame warm-ups. It has been disclosed now that Backstrom has a sports hernia that will need surgery during this offseason. I think that the Wild stood no chance of winning the series after that happened.
Backstrom had played in 42 of the team’s 48 games this season. He started 41 of those games so there wasn’t much play for the team’s backup goalies. It was an impossible task for Josh Harding to come in there and expect him to carry Minnesota past a talented Chicago team. The question is now whether or not Backstrom is even back next season for the Wild. He is a free agent and could explore his options. There may only be one big contract left for him out there at 35 years old.
The best thing for Backstrom to do, in my opinion, would be to go back to Minnesota and finish what has been started. The Wild will be a team to be reckoned with next season. If they can put Backstrom back in between the pipes, I would expect Minnesota could make a run at the division title. Chicago will be in their way since they will be in the same division starting next season, but there is a lot of talent on this team. The Wild will have a year under their belts with Zach Parise and Ryan Suter on the team and there won’t be those adjustments next season. Minnesota is in great shape going into next year, but it is a shame that this season ended the way it did because of Backstrom’s injury.