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Wild unsure who will start in goal in Game 1

Thursday, 05.01.2014 / 8:10 PM
Blackhawks-Wild series blog
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Wild unsure who will start in goal in Game 1

CHICAGO -- Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo didn't have any status update on the health of goalie Darcy Kuemper on Thursday.

Kuemper left the Wild's 5-4 win in overtime of Game 7 of the Western Conference First Round series against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday in the third period. Backup Ilya Bryzgalov finished the game and stopped the lone shot he faced.

Bryzgalov could wind up starting against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday at United Center in Game 1 of their Western Conference Second Round series (9:30 ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

Either way, the Wild have plenty of experience dealing with turbulence in their goal. They used five goalies this season because of injuries, including Niklas Backstrom, Josh Harding, Kuemper and Bryzgalov, who was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers in early March.

"Ironically, it's not that much of a challenge to be honest with you," Yeo said at a press conference here. "I even heard a couple of our players joking about it right now, because it's been an ongoing ... not just this year, but it's something we've had to deal with the last couple years. And I give our players a great deal of credit for how they've dealt with it."

Backstrom was injured during warm-ups prior to the start of Game 1 of the Wild's Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Blackhawks last year. Harding wound up making an unexpected start, but he was injured in that series, which gave Kuemper some playing time.

Chicago won that series in five games, but Minnesota's goaltending issues didn't end there. They continued into the 2013-14 regular season and have continued in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It's not really affecting us at all," forward Zach Parise said. "We've had a pretty unique goaltending situation this year, but it really hasn't affected us in the locker room at all. We're comfortable with whoever we're playing with and it really hasn't changed the way we play at all."

Yeo did reveal one update. He said Harding's gear was brought to Chicago to allow him to get back on the ice. Harding, who was the starting goalie at the beginning of the season, missed the final 40 games and the entire series against Colorado battling effects of multiple sclerosis, which was diagnosed in 2012.

"I have to find out more, but I will say that we're going to get his gear here and we're going to get him skating," Yeo said.

The Wild didn't get much time to rest following their Game 7 victory in Denver, and they know it's already time to turn the page. Parise went through it with the New Jersey Devils in the 2012 playoffs after defeating the Florida Panthers in a seven-game series.

"Just like you have to shake off a loss, you have to shake off a big win and get right at the next guys," he said.

The Wild also have the experience of that series against the Blackhawks a year ago to draw from this time.

"We learned how good we have to play and how good Chicago is," Parise said. "They really know how to take their game to another level in the playoffs and there's a reason why they've had so much success lately. So it's kind of good for us to see how the champs do it and how well you have to play. I guess it was a good learning lesson for us."

Quote of the Day

I just think about how much it hurts. The feelings aren't going to go away, probably never. It's just something that sticks with you for a long time.

— San Jose forward Logan Couture to The Canadian Press on the Sharks' first-round loss to the Kings after taking a 3-0 series lead