Monday, January 10, 2011

Pioneer Press Article: José Theodore Becomes the Big Man in Goal for Minnesota Wild

This was an article that showed up early Sunday morning. (I'm still trying to get caught up from all the flurry of activity after José's stellar week!) This is found at, Pioneer Press.

Jose Theodore becomes the big man in goal for Minnesota Wild
Goalie showcases his ability with Backstrom sidelined

By John Shipley
Updated: 01/09/2011 12:38:04 AM CST

PITTSBURGH — José Theodore spent a long summer waiting for an offer that never came, and it was something of a shock. The goaltender was 30-7-8 with the Washington Capitals in 2009-10, and if his 2.81 goals-against average seemed high, the way he finished the season should have squelched doubts about whether the veteran's competitive days were behind him.

He finished the season without a regulation loss (20-0-2) between Jan. 13 and April 9.

"To be honest, I was a little surprised I didn't get offered," he said. "But in the end it's the old saying, 'If it's meant to be, it's meant to be.' "

It appears the hockey gods had something in mind for Theodore, who started his fourth straight game for Minnesota on Saturday night, helping the surging Wild blank the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-0 at Consol Energy Center.

Theodore made 26 saves to win his fourth straight start, and improved to 5-1-1 with a 1.82 GAA in his past seven starts for Minnesota, which signed him on the fly after a knee injury knocked out backup Josh Harding for the season.

"He's been unbelievable. I can't really say much else," said wing Cal Clutterbuck, who scored his team-leading 13th goal Saturday. "For a guy who wasn't in training camp, and didn't have a training camp, he's been great right from the start. He's been a huge, huge part of why we are where we are."

And where the Wild were on Saturday was seventh place in the Western Conference, a remarkable fact considering that on Dec. 17, Minnesota was 14th. Since then, however, they've gone 8-2-1, and Theodore, 34, has been a major factor since signing a $1.1 million deal with the Wild on Oct. 2.

He joined the team after its season-opening trip to Finland.

"We were lucky," general manager Chuck Fletcher said. "The fact that a guy like Jose Theodore was available to be signed at the end of September was good fortune for us."

It's been particularly fortuitous this month because Niklas Backstrom hasn't played since suffering a lower body injury Dec. 31 against Nashville, an injury he aggravated during practice Wednesday in Boston. The Wild's longtime No. 1 goaltender has been shut down for the near future and will travel to Colorado this week to visit hip/groin specialist Dr. Marc Philippon.
Philippon performed the surgery when Backstrom, 32, had hip surgery following the 2008-09 season.

Asked Saturday if he believes it's the same injury, Backstrom said: "I hope it's not. You never know. I hope it's not. It's not good, but it's not too bad. ... I'll probably find out Monday or Tuesday."

Backstrom played the tail end of that season with the injury before having surgery in April.

"You can do it for a month or two," he said, "but you don't want to do it for four, five, six months."

The Wild recalled goaltender Anton Khudobin from Houston to back up on Saturday, and he could start today's game against Dallas at the Xcel Energy Center. Coach Todd Richards acknowledged his team is riding high with Theodore but added, "It's got to be a smart decision because with Nik out, we can't afford to lose two goalies."

Richards said Theodore seems motivated to prove something after being snubbed last summer.

"He's got something to prove," the coach said. "He was sitting out there, and a lot of teams didn't think he could play, obviously. Now he's got an opportunity to play, and he's running with it."

Theodore was on top of his game Saturday, catching pucks clean and directing traffic with his stickhandling. He set up Clutterbuck's goal — which gave the Wild a 3-0 lead 6:20 into the third period — with a big save that he kicked out to a defenseman to start a three-on-two breakout.

"Every year you want to prove what you're capable of," he said. "I thought last year, especially the second half, I was able to prove that my game was there and I was feeling good. That's why I was a little surprised (in the offseason). The numbers were decent with 30 wins, seven losses. I thought we would get an offer, and it just didn't happen, so this year it's a great new challenge for me, and I love being here."

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