Josh Harding, Niklas Backstrom

Yeo to split Wild’s first three preseason games among three goalies


After a campaign where the Minnesota Wild had to compete for long stretches of time without their top two goaltenders, the team might have three viable starting options going into training camp. That’s created a good problem for Wild coach Mike Yeo to have.

The first step will be for Yeo to determine who will serve as the opening game starter between Niklas Backstrom, Josh Harding, and Darcy Kuemper. He’ll have to start leaning towards one of them by the middle of the preseason.

“The easy thing to say is just give them two games each (out of Minnesota’s six exhibition contests), but whoever’s playing game one, we have to make sure (he’s) ready to go too,” Yeo said at the Minnesota State Fair, per the Star Tribune. He later added, “I think everyone in those first three games has to get basically equal playing time (between Backstrom, Harding, and Kuemper). After that, we’re kind of open right now … but we’re going to have to quickly have to determine who we want to give a greater workload to.”

Regardless of who starts in the Wild’s first game though, the battle for the number one spot is likely to carry on into the regular season. Yeo doesn’t believe in the “win and you’re in” philosophy, but each netminder’s play will obviously dictate their ice time.

Of course, the elephant in the room is that Kuemper is a restricted free agent. There’s still time for the Wild to work something out, but with every passing day, the impasse slowly becomes more ominous.

After lopsided loss, Julien says it’s ‘not about the young D’

Claude Julien

The Boston Bruins’ young, makeshift defense failed to come through Thursday night as the B’s were thumped, 6-2, on home ice by the Winnipeg Jets.

Without injured veterans Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, the defensive pairings were as follows:

Torey KrugAdam McQuaid
Joe MorrowKevan Miller
Matt IrwinZach Trotman

And let’s just say, turnovers were a factor:

That was Irwin getting checked off the puck there.

“I had the puck behind the net, and I went to one side of the net, and then I just didn’t use the net to my advantage,” he explained afterwards, per CSN New England. “He got his stick in there, obviously stripped me of the puck, and we all know what happened after that. I take full blame for that one.”

But head coach Claude Julien wasn’t willing to blame inexperience for the poor outing.

“It’s not about youth. It’s not about the young D,” said Julien. “It’s about our game without the puck. I think we might have gotten a little excited here about our offense and forgot about the other part of our game.”

And to be fair, even Boston’s more accomplished d-men had their challenging moments.

Here’s Krug failing to get position on Nicolas Petan in front of the Bruins’ net:

All in all, it was a tough night.

“We’ll correct those [mistakes] tomorrow in practice,” said Irwin. “We’re a confident group in here. We liked our offense. We liked the chances we were getting. All those mistakes, D-zone, are something that we’re going to work on and get better every day.”

The Bruins host their rivals from Montreal on Saturday.

Greene named 11th captain in Devils history

Dion Phaneuf; Andy Greene
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Andy Greene has been named Bryce Salvador’s successor as New Jersey’s team captain.

Greene, an undrafted free agent that’s spent his entire nine-year career with the Devils organization, becomes the 11th captain in the franchise’s history and third American to wear the “C” (Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner were the others).

A former standout at Miami of Ohio, Greene — who served as an alternate captain in each of the last two seasons — has developed into a steady, durable blueliner that hasn’t missed a game in three years. He’s also locked into the Devils long term, having signed a five-year, $25 million extension with the club last summer.

That deal kicks in this season, and runs through 2020.

As for the rest of the leadership group, four players will serve as alternate captains this season: Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac, Mike Cammalleri, and Adam Henrique.

Elias and Zajac both wore an “A” in New Jersey last year, while Cammalleri and Henrique are first-timers.