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  • Protecting Harding: The Real Reason Why Josh Harding's Numbers Were So Great


    Some argue that Harding carried the team with unsustainably high save percentages, while others look at what the Wild was doing in front of him. There were times that the Wild just plain played better in front of their ailing netminder as if they were trying to protect him more.

    Harding clearly won the job from Backstrom for very good reasons. However, a reason that Harding was able to post such good numbers was because the team in front of him was the 8th best team in the league in Fenwick Against per 60 minutes with a 54.65 rate. This translated in to 38.78 shots per 60 minutes - which was also the 8th best in the league.

    The Wild were doing a solid job of suppressing shots while Harding was in net. They kept shots on goal to 23.79 per game compared to 26 shots on goal per game while Backstrom was between the pipes. Darcy Kuemper had to face 27 shots on goal per game.

    But the way I see it, the Wild made a real sub-conscious effort to protect Harding and Harding responded by picking his teammates up with solid play and bailing out their mistakes. Harding may have had unsustainable numbers, but the 20 skaters in front of him every night were doing their damnedest to keep his great play moving forward.

    What makes this all the more painful is that Harding wasn't taken out of the line-up because of some injury, but because his body didn't react the right way to his treatment adjustment. If Harding can come back as healthy as he can be, and the Wild are able to limit the amount of shots he sees by being the kind of puck possession team they were in the Western Conference quarterfinal, I see no reason why Harding can't pick right back up where he left off.

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