Minnesota Wild G Darcy Kuemper Needs to Play Better


Losing in Winnipeg was a heartbreaker. After being down 4-1 early in the second period the Minnesota Wild charged back to fall just short in a one-goal loss 4-5 to the Jets. The comeback attempt was a thing of beauty, but the reason the Wild were in the hole Darcy Kuemper’s play in goal was not really a thing of beauty at all.

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Starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper allowed 4 goals on 18 shots for a dismal .778 save percentage and was pulled for Devan Dubnyk after only 51 seconds elapsed in the second period. This was Kuemper’s second start of the season, and it can be said that he had a strong first game stopping 35 of 37 shots a better result than last night. Still one can’t help but flash back to the first part of last season where the Wild were constantly let down by Kuemper’s goaltending.  It has already been argued that some of the goals were “bad bounces” which I can see how they would be characterized as such.  Still I have an issue letting it go because when the Wild and Kuemper were at their worst last year we heard a lot about the “bad bounces” then.

Additionally I also felt that Kuemper’s preseason wasn’t very strong either.   As I wrote earlier during preseason to be successful in the NHL a goaltender needs to be averaging above .900 save percentage, and right now Kuemper is sitting at about a .890 save percentage for the season. Granted it’s two games in, but I for one feel Kuemper needs to be on a shorter leash given that his sporadic play last season almost single handedly cost the Wild a trip to the postseason.

With Niklas Backstrom sitting and waiting to see game action, I really feel the next back-up start needs to be Backstrom and not Kuemper. What does the team have to lose? Afterall this is a healthy Backstrom who had a shutout in the preseason proving that he might just have a glimmer of his past greatness left. Not to mention as I’ve said before Kuemper needs to know that his future with the team will not just be handed to him, he needs to earn it. More consistent play is needed from him even to be the backup. Do I think we the Wild need to give up on Kuemper at this point. No not at all. What I do think is that the young goaltender needs some motivation that might come in the form of some competition.

The Central Division is stacked again this year and the Wild need to get wins, and they especially need to get wins when facing division rivals like the Jets. Dubnyk is continuing to prove that he gives the Wild a chance to win each night. Like it was last year, I’m not convinced that myself or many other Wild fans feel that Kuemper gives that chance to win as well.  Bottom line he needs to play great consistently if he ever wants to change the perception that was hung on him because of his play last season.

Next: Wild Penalty Kill Troubles

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