Wild address Harding situation: ‘We’re not hiding anything here — he just doesn’t feel well’


In the wake of putting Josh Harding on IR, Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher insisted his club isn’t playing coy about the goaltender’s condition.

“He’s just not feeling well,” Fletcher said, per the Star-Tribune. “I wish I could tell you more, we’re not hiding anything here — he just doesn’t feel well and whatever that’s from I can’t say. I can’t speculate, I don’t want to speculate.”

Harding, already placed on IR once this season for a change in Multiple Sclerosis treatment protocol, has only appeared in three of Minnesota’s last nine games and just two since Dec. 17. His absence has hurt the Wild — playing at a Vezina-caliber level for the first half of the season, Harding posted outrageous numbers ( 18-7-2, 1.66 GAA, .933 save percentage) and was a big reason why Minnesota had a 20-11-5 mark after beating Vancouver on Dec. 17.

Few details have been released as to what treatment changes Harding underwent in December. Fletcher said it was “not a major situation” and not much is known about Harding’s current condition. He’s been around the team but isn’t traveling for the club’s upcoming road swing through Los Angeles and Phoenix, a decision that Fletcher said was made to limit the amount of time Harding has to spend flying.

“I think he’s feeling a little better, but he’s not able to play right now so we just kept him back and it’s a long flight, so rather than flying to this part of the country – and heat’s not a really good thing for him to be honest with you,” Fletcher explained. “But having him travel around the country…

“Hopefully he starts to feel better this week and we can get him back in the lineup soon.”

Related: Mikko Koivu had ankle surgery, will miss a month

Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
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Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

We’ll start to find out tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
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Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen