Tuesday, December 3, 2013

3 on 3: Josh Harding

No bottle of water can cool off Josh Harding. Photo: Jack Dempsey/AP
Josh Harding was named the NHL's #3 star of November, becoming the first Wild player to ever be named a Star of the Month. He was also named the third star of the week ending on November 18th. So to commemorate his accomplishments on the season, lets give him the nod in three on three today.

POSITIVES

  • Harding has played in 22 of the team's 29 games. He has posted a 14-4-3 overall record (14 wins are 3rd in NHL) with a 1.45 Goals Against Average (1st in NHL) and .939 Save Percentage (2nd in NHL). Even more impressively, his .954 even strength SV% leads the league by half a percentage point. His 11-1-0/1.12/.949 line at home is tops in the league as well.
  • If you had said at the beginning of the year that Harding would be the team's number one goaltender by mid-November, I might have called you crazy. Harding came into the net in relief of an injured Backstrom in just the third game of the year, and has yet to relinquish the cage. He has put himself as the team's number one goaltender and has become a front runner for the Vezina Trophy. That would make a nice picture sitting next to the Masterton Trophy he won last year.
  • Not only has Harding played his way into the Vezina talk, but his play has started to get him some support for Team Canada in the upcoming Olympics. It still appears to be a long shot for him to get the call to play for the Great White North in Sochi, but the fact he has gotten into the discussion is a great accomplishment nonetheless.


NEGATIVES
  • Since Harding has played so well, it has made it difficult for Mike Yeo to take him out of the lineup. But with those numbers, how can you blame him? But Harding has made start after start (including the back to back against Colorado), without much rest. Eventually, he will need to be given the night off just so he can stay rested and healthy.
  • Another casualty of Harding's great play has been Backstrom himself. A couple of injuries early on in the season did not help his cause to remain as the team's number one, and now that Harding remains red hot, Backstrom is seeing very little action. Eventually, you have to start putting Backstrom in between the pipes to keep him sharp. 
  • Eventually, his hot streak will come to an end. But when is entirely up to him.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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