The rest of the NHL still doesn't seem to think Niklas Backstrom is a good goalie. Which is fine, they can believe whatever they want. He'll just keep playing his game, proving them wrong, and making skaters look stupid. Of course, unless it is the shootout. Ugh.
The Wild's ride on the regression railroad apparently all stems from the play of Backstrom. Of course, that was after it was due to the possession numbers didn't explain it, so who really knows.
What is clear is that Backstrom's future after next season is cloudy. He very likely will never see the $6 million a year number again, but will he be around and play in a tandem or fill a backup role? His age is creeping up on him. The injuries are adding up. What is his future?
That is for another day. For now, we look at the current season
|2011 - Niklas Backstrom||46||2590||19||18||105||2.43||1299||1194||.919||4|
Nathan- I was expecting a better season, though when it began, he was the major reason for the success, and with that increased expectations. Injuries, personal changes, whatever the reason, there was a decrease over the season, but he started at an A+ level so the ultimate fall wasn't too bad.
Bryan- Much is said about what happens when the Wild lose Mikko Koivu. Similar things happen when the Wild lose Backstrom. He is the top goalie in the franchise, and until someone says otherwise, it is his job to lose. Josh Harding has never proved a true challenger for the spot, and the two young guns in Houston aren't going to just up and take it from a guy like Backstrom.
If only he could pull a rabbit from his hat in a shootout from time to time.
Jesse- Backstrom had noticeably better numbers this year than the last two seasons under Todd Richards, yet that was just a product of "regressing to the mean". Well, then bring it on. Backs has proven he can be a workhorse. He gives the Wild a chance to win just about every night he's in the crease. There are maybe 5 teams in the NHL that wouldn't take Backstrom. You put Backs in Tampa Bay, and they make the playoffs. Backs in Chicago, and that series with Phoenix is totally different. He's completely underrated across the league.
And while I'm on the topic, why is it that a particular fanbase and their writers were more than happy to point out the "regression to the mean" argument when it came to Backstrom, but they politely looked over their own starting goalie's incredible start and "unsustainable" numbers. Just for the record: Niklas Backstrom and his "regression" still had better overall numbers than a certain Bulin Sieve...
Grade - B