For the second straight year, the Minnesota Wild are headed to the post season. Minnesota clinched a spot in the Western Conference playoffs thanks to the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 win over Phoenix on Tuesday night in Columbus. The Wild will open the playoffs on the road when the post season begins on Wednesday April 16.
Meanwhile, Wild goaltender Josh Harding has been nominated for the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. The trophy is presented annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Harding was named the 2013 recipient of the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy on June 14, 2013, to become the first player in Wild history to win a voted-on NHL Award.
Harding, 29 (6/18/84), is 18-7-3 and leads the NHL with a 1.65 goals-against average (GAA) and a .933 save percentage (SV%) in 29 contests this season, setting career-highs in wins, shutouts (3), shutout streak (131:36), GAA and SV%. The 6-foot-2, 194-pound native of Regina, Sask., was named the NHL’s Third Star for November after going 8-2-2 with a 1.88 GAA, a .926 SV% and one shutout in 12 contests to become the first Wild player to be named a Star of the Month. Harding is 14-3-0 with a 1.57 GAA, .934 SV% and three shutouts in 17 games at Xcel Energy Center. He was placed on Injured Reserve on Jan. 2 as he continues to battle multiple sclerosis, which was diagnosed in the fall of 2012, and most recently returned to practice with the team on April 2.
Harding went 1-1-0 with a 3.24 GAA, a .863 SV% and one shutout in five regular season games with Minnesota last year and 1-4 with a 2.94 GAA and a .911 SV% in five playoff starts for the Wild. He went 13-12-4 with a 2.62 GAA, a .917 SV% and two shutouts in 34 appearances (30 starts) in 2011-12 after missing the 2010-11 season with a knee injury suffered Sept. 24, 2010, at St. Louis. Harding is 60-59-11 with a 2.45 GAA, a .918 SV% and 10 shutouts in 151 games (124 starts) during eight seasons with Minnesota. He was selected by the Wild in the second-round (No. 38 overall) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.
For more information on Harding’s Hope, a Multiple Sclerosis Charity launched by Josh Harding last year, please visit www.hardingshope.org and follow on Twitter and Facebook.
The winner of the Masterton Trophy is selected by a poll among the 30 chapters of the PHWA at the end of the regular season. NHL writers first presented the trophy in 1968 to commemorate the late Bill Masterton, who played for the Minnesota North Stars and exhibited to a high degree the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Masterton died on Jan. 15, 1968 as a result of head injuries suffered during a game.
Harding (2012-13), Clayton Stoner (2011-12), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (2010-11), Guillaume Latendresse (2009-10), Kurtis Foster (2008-09), Aaron Voros (2007-08), Marian Gaborik (2006-07), Wes Walz (2005-06, 2000-01), Alexandre Daigle (2003-04), Dwayne Roloson (2002-03) and Richard Park (2001-02) were previously nominated for the award.