The Minnesota Wild have a tall task ahead of them in stopping the Chicago Blackhawks from winning Game 5 of their series together and thusly ending the Wild’s Stanley Cup dreams. One thing that has kept the Wild in this series is physicality and goaltending, but it looks like the Wild may be without one of those moving forward.
Josh Harding burst onto the scene in Game 1 when he was a last minute replacement for netminder Niklas Backstrom who suffered a lower body injury. Backstrom hasn’t played at all this series and that could be an issue as Harding is now finding himself on the list of injured Wild players and may not be able to play in Game 5.
Rookie netminder Darcy Kuemper came in for the injured Harding rather than Backstrom and the result was a 3-0 shutout loss to give the Blackhawks a 3-1 series edge. To make things worse, the series is heading back to Chicago and the Wild must win one in the United Center and one more at the Xcel Energy Center to have a chance in the series.
If Minnesota wants to win this series, it’s going to need to go a full seven games and that’s very unlikely at this point. The Wild brought it hard in two games but only managed to win one of them. Now that they’re in a hole, they’ll be lucky to win another game, let alone one on the road in Chicago. But this is the NHL Playoffs and stranger things have happened.
But unfortunately for the Wild, they need to win three straight against best and most consistent team in hockey and they’ll need one heck of a miracle to ull this one off — and that’s assuming they’d have two healthy netminders, which they don’t at the moment.