After a shaky Game Two letdown, the Arizona Coyotes Darcy Kuemper may have had his best game in a Coyotes’ uniform. He stopped 39 of 40 shots and completely stymied the Nashville Predators, especially in the opening period. Kuemper turned away 19 shots. Conversely, his team scored on their very first shot, compliments of a Christian Dvorak deflection of a Niklas Hjalmarsson shot.
Darcy Kuemper is in Control
While Kuemper had a great Game Three, he has played three games in four days. It was thought that Antti Raanta would rotate with Kuemper, but Raanta was hurt again. The bad luck backup goalie had a shot hit him in the head during warmups for Game Two. One thing is certain about Raanta, if it weren’t for bad luck, he’d have no luck at all. This is a netminder who was in a car accident on the way to Gila River Arena and was unable to play. Then he missed most of last season due to a lower body injury.
Kuemper, who is no stranger to being workhorse, stepped up and helped put his team to a commanding 2-1 lead in the Stanley Cup Qualifier series. Save after save must have frustrated the Predators to no end.
Let’s face it when your goalie is playing well in the postseason, success will be yours. Kuemper has been a bit shaky in the first two games, but he made up for that in a big way for the Game Three win.
He hasn’t exactly had much defensive support facing 34 shots a game. Yet, he had a stellar .928 save percentage and a 2.69 goals-against-average. His lifetime NHL stats show his play is becoming outstanding. He possesses a 96-72-29 record with a 2.46 goals-against-average and a .918 save percentage.
Rick Tocchet Has Confidence in His Starting Goalie
When asked if he would start Kuemper in Game Three, Tocchet didn’t think about it too long. Kuemper would get the start. Nashville’s style is to throw everything at the net with their star defenceman Roman Josi leading the way. What Tocchet reminded his troops was that leads to rushes going the other way if your goalie is named Kuemper. That’s why he was named the first star of the game.
Taylor Hall Likes His Goalie Too
Taylor Hall had praise for his goalie after the game telling Mike G. Morreale from NHL.com, “[Kuemper] is a great goalie,” Hall said. “I didn’t know much about him before I got traded here (from the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 16). To see his level of compete and how he plays and practices, he’s so in control, so big (6-foot-5, 215 pounds) and covers a lot of the net. If we can let him see pucks, take that first shot, he’s one of the best in the world at it. He’s a big reason why we won today, and he’s got to keep that up because he’s playing like our best player right now.”
Darcy Kuemper Hopes to Lead Coyotes to Another Win
With Game Four scheduled for Friday, it doesn’t take a degree in nuclear physics to imagine who will be in between the pipes for the Desert Dogs. This is Kuemper’s time to shine again and catapult his team into the “real” playoffs.
Rest? Who needs rest when you’ve had four months off? Kuemper has shown that he is as sharp as ever. If he hadn’t been hurt during the 2019-20 season, he was headed towards a Vezina type performance.
Now, he can show everyone that he deserves the accolades and perhaps his teammates will give him a bit more support so he doesn’t come out of this series shell-shocked.
For Kuemper, it’s easy. It’s his job, and he does it very well.