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Thursday Daily Puck: Harding Practices Again

Dustin Nelson

Dustin Nelson

Dustin Nelson is a writer based out of NYC. His fantasy team is full of loafers.

Around the Rink
Stop the presses. Josh Harding is back at practice for the Wild. He's been, more-or-less, out of the lineup entirely since late December for the Wild after what was supposed to be a weeklong adjustment to his MS medication.

Despite missing about half of the season, Harding still leads the NHL in goals against and save percentage. If he does return to game action — and be as good as he was through the first half — there's no understating how huge that would be for the Wild. (Also, to be clear, this is just a huge deal for him as he battles with MS. I mean, he has the best goalie stats in the league and MS. What'd you do today?)

Wild coach Mike Yeo emphasized that he's day-to-day and that there's no plan or timetable for him yet. They're just glad to have him back at practice.

He's just at practice though. If they are going to bring him back to game action you can almost be certain that he'll be sent down to the Iowa Wild of the AHL for a conditioning stint soon, as they only have eight games remaining.

Alright. Let's get to it.

Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid

Columbus Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky) at Philadelphia Flyers (Steve Mason), 7:00 PM
Dallas Stars (Kari Lehtonen) at Carolina Hurricanes (Cam Ward), 7:00 PM
Boston Bruins (Tuukka Rask) at Toronto Maple Leafs (Jonathan Bernier), 7:30 PM
Calgary Flames (Karri Ramo) at Tampa Bay Lightning (Ben Bishop), 7:30 PM
Minnesota Wild (Ilya Bryzgalov) at Chicago Blackhawks (Corey Crawford), 8:00 PM
Buffalo Sabres (Matt Hackett) at St. Louis Blues (Brian Elliott), 8:00 PM
Pittsburgh Penguins (Marc-Andre Fleury) at Winnipeg Jets (Ondrej Pavelec), 8:00 PM
New York Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist) at Colorado Avalanche (Semyon Varlamov), 9:00 PM
Los Angeles Kings (Jonathan Quick) at San Jose Sharks (Antti Niemi), 10:30 PM

Injury News For Teams Playing Thursday

Columbus Blue Jackets
Nathan Horton, RW - (lower body) will not travel with the team to Philadelphia
Nikita Nikitin, D - (lower body) will miss Thursday's game
Ryan Murray, D - (knee) will travel with the team to Philadelphia on Thursday, and could play Friday against the Blackhawks

Philadelphia Flyers
Steve Downie, RW - (head) did not play Tuesday
Kimmo Timonen, D - (upper body) is slated to play Thursday against the Blue Jackets

Dallas Stars
Erik Cole, RW - (upper body) missed Tuesday's game, but is on the road with the team
Aaron Rome, D - (undisclosed) did not play in Tuesday's game after being injured on Saturday

Carolina Hurricanes
Jiri Tlusty, LW - (lower body) did not play Tuesday
Joni Pitkanen, D - (heel) remains without a return timetable
Alexander Semin, LW - (illness) missed Tuesday with the flu

Boston Bruins
Jarome Iginla, RW - (lower body) the team is saying it's "not a major injury" and that he is "day-to-day"
Adam McQuaid, D - (quad), who hasn't played in a game since Jan. 19, is "being ramped up right now, off ice," according to coach Claude Julien

Calgary Flames
Ladislav Smid, D - (upper body) was injured on Friday and has not returned
Dennis Wideman, D - (upper body) is unlikely to return this season
David Jones, RW - (upper body) skated on his own last Thursday for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury March 3
Tyler Wotherspoon, D - (shoulder) will undergo season-ending surgery
Markus Granlund, C - (shoulder) skated on his own last week, but isn't back yet
Michael Ferland, LW - (knee) underwent surgery and is likely out for the rest of the season

Tampa Bay Lightning
Slater Koekkoek, D - (shoulder) is done for the season
Mike Kostka, D - (concussion) is out indefinitely

Minnesota Wild
Keith Ballard, D - (groin) returned to practice Sunday, but won't play Thursday
Cody McCormick, C - (eye) returned to practice Sunday and is a scratch for Thursday
Josh Harding, G - (illness) joined the team Wednesday for his first practice since January, though, as stated above, he's not playing soon
Clayton Stoner, D - (lower body) is considered week-to-week
Niklas Backstrom, G - abdomen) underwent a third procedure last Tuesday and will officially be ruled out from returning this season
Nino Niederreiter, LW - (upper body) was on the ice for Wednesday's practice and may play tonight
Mikael Granlund, C - (head) will not play Thursday against Chicago
Jason Zucker, LW - underwent surgerylast Wednesday to repair a tendon in his left quadriceps.
Darcy Kuemper, G - (upper body) will not play Thursday against Chicago

Chicago Blackhawks
Patrick Kane, RW - Kane (lower body) will be back with the Blackhawks for the playoffs, according to GM Scott Bowman. (3/21/2014)
Nikolai Khabibulin, G - Khabibulin had successful surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder and will miss four-to-five months, Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune reports. (1/7/2014)
Michal Rozsival, D - Rozsival (lower body) will not play Thursday against the Wild, Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. (4/2/2014)
Jonathan Toews, C - Toews (upper body) will be out for the remainder of the regular season, Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. (4/2/2014)

Buffalo Sabres
Rostislav Klesla, D - doesn't want to play anymore, at least not for Buffalo
Zenon Konopka, C - (back) remains out
Chris Stewart, RW - (ankle) is still out
Michal Neuvirth, G - (lower body) is a ways from returning
Jhonas Enroth, G - (leg) could return before the end of the season. (3/26/2014)
Patrick Kaleta, RW - skated at the First Niagara Center for the first time since tearing his ACL back in November
Torrey Mitchell, C - (undisclosed) has been ruled out for Thursday's game against the Predators
Tyler Myers, D - (midsection) is not close to a return to action
Alexander Sulzer, D - (upper body) is out
Nicolas Deslauriers, LW - missed Tuesday's game as his wife had a baby

St. Louis Blues
Vladimir Tarasenko, RW - (hand) is out

Pittsburgh Penguins
Joe Vitale, C - (upper body) took part in the Penguins' morning skate Sunday
Kris Letang, D - (stroke) continues to practice but has no timetable for a return
Chris Conner, RW - (wrist / foot) is out
Tomas Vokoun, G - Coach Dan Bylsma said that while Vokoun (pelvis) could play in one of the Penguins' final 12 regular-season games, he's preparing to have Marc-Andre Fleury and Jeff Zatkoff as his postseason goalies
Pascal Dupuis, RW - (knee) will miss the next five-to-seven months
Marcel Goc, C - will miss three weeks with a foot injury
Paul Martin, D - (hand) said he hopes to return Thursday in Winnipeg, but will play "for sure" by the weekend
Evgeni Malkin, C - (foot) will miss the next couple weeks

Winnipeg Jets
Al Montoya, G - (lower body) did not dress for Tuesday’s 2-1 shootout win over the Coyotes
Chris Thorburn, RW - Thornburn is out indefinitely with a fractured talus
Keaton Ellerby, D - is dealing with a lower body injury
Zach Bogosian, D - (upper body) was absent from morning skate and appears likely to miss Thursday's game
James Wright, C - (ankle) is out indefinitely
Grant Clitsome, D - (back) is out for the season
Mark Scheifele, C - Jets coach Paul Maurice said Scheifele (knee) has recovered as anticipated thus far

New York Rangers
Ryan McDonagh, D - (arm) will travel with the team to Denver
John Moore, D - (concussion) needs one more practice before he’ll be ready to return to the lineup
Chris Kreider, LW - (hand) underwent surgery on Friday and will be out indefinitely

Colorado Avalanche
Matt Duchene, C - (knee) will miss four weeks
Alex Tanguay, LW - (hip) had season-ending surgery a month ago
P.A. Parenteau, RW - (knee) is expected to return either for the regular season finale or for the start of the playoffs

Los Angeles Kings
Dwight King, LW - (undisclosed) was back on the ice Tuesday, but didn't put a timetable on his return to the lineup

San Jose Sharks
Tomas Hertl, C - practiced without his usual orange non-contact jersey Wednesday for the first time since suffering his knee injury
Adam Burish, RW - (hand) hasn't ruled out the possibility of returning during the playoffs
Raffi Torres, LW - (soreness) will again be out of the lineup as the Sharks take on the Oilers on Tuesday

Hot
Anze Kopitar, C / Marian Gaborik, LW, LAK: Acquiring Gaborik seems to be working out alright for Kopitar, who has been on a tear since the trade deadline. He's on a four-game point streak and has six goals and seven assists over the last 13 games. For his part Gaborik is on a five-game point streak. In the 14 games since coming to LA he's got three goals and seven assists after going without a point in his first three. Something about playing with Kopitar has (GASP) made Gaborik learn how to pass and they're both better off for it.

Corey Perry, RW, ANA: Perry is good. Perry is very, very, very good. Anaheim has put together two straight third period come-from-behind rallies with Perry and Ryan Getzlaf leading the charge. Last night he finished with two goals and an assist to turn a 2-0 third period deficit into a 3-2 win. He has four goals and two assists in the last three games. Oh, and his 41 goals (second in the NHL) and 78 points (third in the NHL) aren't bad either.

Gustav Nyquist, RW, DET: Stop me if you've heard this one before: Nyquist is on fire. He's got a 20.1 shooting percentage. (!) With a goal in last night's game he has a ten-game point streak going, which encompasses 12 goals and two assists. He's dragging the battered carcass of the Red Wings into the playoffs all by his lonesome.

Cold
Keith Yandle, D, PHX: With the team's season on the line, Yandle has disappeared from the scoresheet. Yes, he has other qualities that are helping the team out, but when you're getting shutout by LA one night after you lost in a shootout, which bumped your team out of a wild card spot, you've got to get onto the scoresheet. (Not to mention they're missing their starting goaltender.) He has no points in the last five games.

Martin Erat, RW, PHX: I don't mean to pick on Phoenix, but Erat is another player in Phoenix who needs to get his game together if they're going to make the playoffs. Erat has turned into a perennial trade deadline mover and it's been a couple years since we've seen the production that is typically associated with his name. He has just a single goal in his 11 games since being traded to the Coyotes from Washington and hasn't tallied a single point in nine games.

Nazem Kadri, C, TOR: Yay! The Maple Leafs finally won a game. That sounds sarcastic, but I mean it. It was getting hard to watch them continue to lose. If they're going to throw a hail mary and try and make the playoffs Kadri is one of a handful of players who has to step it up. He's got just one goal in the last 12 games and has been held without a point for the last three. He's also a minus-5 over those 12 games and had three games where he didn't even register a shot. You can see based on his shrinking ice time that management is frustrated with his play.

Recommended Pickups
Tanner Pearson, LW, LAK: If you're looking for a late, deep pickup, the rookie winger may be your man. He's playing a tough game in LA and has started to put some points up on the board. Through 22 games he only has three goals and three assists, but he's pulled in a goal and three assists over the last four games. His minutes aren't great, but he appears to have found his grove in the NHL and has looked better in recent weeks. He's currently playing on the Kings' second line with Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli, which is going to help out his potential quite a bit.