Niklas Backstrom

Wild confirm Backstrom has lower-body injury (Update: Kuemper recalled)

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As is often the case with playoff injuries, the Minnesota Wild aren’t saying much about whatever Niklas Backstrom hurt during warmup prior to Tuesday’s Game 1 loss to Chicago.

But at least we know what part of his body is hurt!

Wild head coach Mike Yeo confirmed Backstrom suffered a lower-body injury last night, one that forced backup Josh Harding into emergency relief duty.

Harding stopped 35 of 37 shots on the night, but lost in overtime on a Byan Bickell goal.

Here’s more, from the Minnesota Star-Tribune’s Mike Russo:

[Backstrom] seemed to sustain a left groin or hip injury trying to reach for a rebound. Coach Mike Yeo said that threw the staff a “curve ball to say the least.”

Yeo had no prognosis for Backstrom, but obviously Darcy Kuemper will need to come up and join Harding, who likely will have to start Friday.

Backstrom was a workhorse for the Wild over the final two months of the season, finishing as the goalie of record in 27 of the final 28 games.

Harding, who suffered a setback with multiple sclerosis in early February, had made just one appearance over the final two months of the season — a relief gig in Minnesota’s 6-1 loss to Edmonton last Friday, in which he allowed three goals on 12 shots in just over 40 minutes of action.

Update: The Wild have officially recalled Kuemper from AHL Houston.

Personal reasons: No Ovechkin for Caps tonight

Alex Ovechkin
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Alex Ovechkin won’t play for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday because of personal reasons, the team confirmed.

He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.

Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).

That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out

This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:

No, the Capitals have not shared details regarding what his “personal reasons” might be, by the way.

Bruins put Morrow on IR, bring up Cross

Brady Skjei, Joe Morrow
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Lower-level defense is not the biggest of many worries for the Boston Bruins, yet it might be another in a series of headaches.’s Joe Haggerty points out that Joe Morrow has been placed on IR while AHL stalwart Tommy Cross was called up.

With a -3 rating and negligible offensive impact so far, few will really be missing Morrow (pictured). From the way Haggerty describes Cross, it’s a pretty cool story if he gets into the lineup:

Cross was named captain of the Providence Bruins this season, and actually had a strong training camp as the hard-hitting, tough stay-at-home defenseman he’s developed into during his five years in the B’s minor league system. The 2007 second round pick was a highly regarded potential puck-moving defenseman when he was drafted prior to his Boston College career, but a series of knee injuries negated some of his speed and puck-moving capabilities.

Granted, the Bruins would prefer a sure-thing improvement over a feel-good story right now, as this 0-3-0 start marks their worst beginning in some time.

Injuries have been an issue in general, too, with Zdeno Chara‘s slow start mixed with Dennis Seidenberg on the mend and Brad Marchand in limbo.

The Bruins’ next game comes against the Avalanche in Colorado. Maybe they’ll start to mend things on the ice?