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NHL notes: Josh Harding not letting MS slow him down

Minnesota Wild's goaltender Josh Harding lets in a goal from Chicago Blackhawks' Marcus Kruger...

Minnesota Wild's goaltender Josh Harding lets in a goal from Chicago Blackhawks' Marcus Kruger during the second period of Game 5 of their NHL Western Conference quarterfinal playoff hockey series in Chicago May 9, 2013. (REUTERS/Jeff Haynes)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:32 PM ET

After Josh Harding was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, one might have expected the goaltender to fade away as the incurable autoimmune disease took over his body.

Instead, Harding is hard at work tending the Minnesota Wild goal and so far having the best season of his career.

The 29-year-old from Regina is off to a 9-2-2 start with a 1.22 goals-against average and .947 save percentage. He also has two shutouts. An early-season injury to starter Niklas Backstrom opened the door for Harding.

“I think the team’s helped me out a lot. I don’t think it has much to do with me at all. I’m just trying to come out here, give the team a chance to win every night. You just have to be solid and make that timely save,” Harding told Yahoo! Sports.

“I learned that from Backstrom over the years – make that timely save.”

Harding hasn’t spoken often about his MS since making the diagnosis public in November 2012, but it’s clear the disease has no bearing on his performance.

The biggest difference his teammates see in him this season is confidence.

“Confidence is everything in this game. In any sport. In life. If you have confidence, you’re going to be successful in anything you want,” said defenceman Ryan Suter.

“Confidence is a big part of it,” agreed head coach Mike Yeo. “Last year it was difficult dealing with his situation. He never got a chance to get in a rhythm of any kind. He was out pretty much the whole year. But the year become, we saw him play at this level before. The great thing is that he’s able sustain it enough.”

ALL GROWN UP

Winnipeg Jets forward Devin Setoguchi says he’s done a lot of maturing since his days with the San Jose Sharks.

“I definitely think I’ve grown up a lot since I’ve been – it’s been six years, this is my seventh [in the NHL]. It’s been a long time,” Setoguchi told CSN Bay Area. “A little bit more mature in the way I handle things and conduct myself, and my play on the ice.”

Setoguchi has struggled to find consistency and hasn’t hit the 20-goal mark since being traded from the Sharks to the Minnesota Wild in the summer of 2011. His best season was in 2008-09 when he scored 31 goals and 65 points while playing on a line with Joe Thornton.

Now in his first season in Winnipeg, Setoguchi has nine points in 17 games as the Jets, who were 12th in the Western Conference heading into Sunday’s games and trying to climb in the standings.

“We’re having troubles with our consistency,” Setoguchi said. “The work ethic, I think we need to put that first … When the work is there that’s when usually everything starts to click.”


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