Noon Number (December 19th): 47.3%

Harding has elevated himself into the Vezina conversation, but will be grounded for at least a week. - Hannah Foslien

When Josh Harding isn't in net, as he will not be for the next week, the Wild have been boned.

Hello, Wilderness!

The big news of the day is that Josh Harding has been placed on the Injured Reserve for the next week while he adjusts to new treatments for his multiple sclerosis. It must be said that Harding's MS is a very serious issue, one that affects a human being, and renders things like hockey games insignificant in comparison. However, you will still forgive me, please, when I discuss the impact that this will make for the Wild on the ice.

While this is only supposed to be for a week, it isn't ideal for the Wild to lose the guy who overnight turned into a Vezina-caliber goalie, even for a short period of time. Duh. It's also a sad reminder for the Wild that their starting goalie may end up having to leave the lineup at any moment.

But this would be a lot better of a scenario for the Wild if their backup goalies weren't doing so poorly.

Despite Niklas Backstrom and Darcy Kuemper combining for less than 30% of the Wild's goalie minutes (29.6%, to be more precise), the Wild backups have allowed 47.3% of the 74 goals that the Minnesota Wild has surrendered with a goalie in net. Backstrom (29 goals allowed) and Kuemper (6 goals allowed) have undoubtedly been shaky so far, inspiring little confidence from the Wild organization, which has leaned on Harding's hot hand.

However, this is also a testament to the brilliant work of Harding, who has been nothing short of spectacular, and is arguably carrying the Wild in the exact same way Sergei Bobrovski carried the Columbus Blue Jackets out of nowhere.

While we all want to see Harding come back as soon as possible, the best thing that could happen to the Wild now (other than climbing from 29th in the league in goals), would be for Backstrom to step up and show that he can still play at a high level. Having him an reliable insurance policy would ease the minds of Wild fans whenever Harding has to leave the lineup, whether for rest or medical reasons.

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