When Darcy Kuemper was injured during the 2019-20 season the Arizona Coyotes were in first place in the Pacific Division and playing well. If you follow the team you know very well that losing Kuemper to a lower-body injury was not ideal. He missed 28 games and the team went 11-13-4 in his absence.
Losing Darcy Kuemper Detrimental To Arizona Coyotes’ Playoff Hopes
Kuemper sustained a lower-body injury early in the first game of a two-game set against the tough Colorado Avalanche on Monday night. Darcy Kuemper departed at the 2:20 mark of the last period and was relieved admirably by Antti Raanta. Raanta stopped all 16 shots he faced and Johan Larsson provided the go-ahead goal to gather the win.
Raanta continued his fill-in role on Wednesday night against the Avalanche. He stood on his head making 44 saves in a losing effort. Gabriel Landeskog buried the overtime winner to grab the Colorado victory. All in all, Raanta kept his team in the game with some marvellous saves.
Will Raanta and Adin Hill Be Able To Hold Down the Fort?
— Craig Morgan (@CraigSMorgan) March 9, 2021
That can be a huge task when you’re talking about filling in for a top-level goalie like Kuemper. Head coach Rick Tocchet expects both Raanta and Adin Hill to fill the void as he told Alex Kinkopf, web reporter for the team, “They’re going to hold the fort for us,” head coach Rick Tocchet said. “That’s what we expect them to do, and they have a track record of doing that for us.”
They do have a track record alright, but is it good enough to get the Coyotes to the post-season again? While Kuemper was out in the 2019-20 season the team struggled with an 11-13-4. They still made it to the playoffs but only because the NHL decided to include 24 teams in the pandemic affected post-season.
If Raanta’s performance against the Avalanche is any indication of how well he can substitute for Kuemper, they should be just fine. Hill as a backup is not that reassuring since he has little experience. He has just an 11-13-3 record with a .908 save percentage and a 2.79 goals-against-average.
With the NHL requirement that each team carry three goalies, Ivan Prosvetov was called up from the AHL Tucson Roadrunners to the taxi squad. He has just a 5-2 record with a 3.11 GAA. That makes the team rely on Raanta who doesn’t exactly have the best record of staying healthy; although Kuemper is having his issues as well.
Going Forward, What Can We Expect?
Since the Coyotes are a weak team offensively with just averaging 2.58 goals per game, they rely on their defence (2.88 goals per game) and goaltending to win games. Until they acquire an explosive scoring forward, they will have difficulty winning without their starting goalie.
The other factor with both Kuemper and Raanta is who stays and who goes? Raanta has his contract expiring after this season. If he is to be a candidate for a deadline trade, the good news is he can display his attributes to suitors who may want to sign or trade for him. The bad news is the timing of Kuemper’s injury may not put him back until after the trade deadline of April 12th.
There were also rumours that Kuemper could be moved and now with his injury that could affect that from happening.
Coyotes’ Future Goalie Lineup Is Uncertain
The expansion draft is coming up and the newest NHL team, the Seattle Kraken will develop a roster. Will Adin Hill be exposed? While Prosvetov is their next goalie in line to come from the AHL, he has not played an NHL game yet. His AHL career record is 14-10-2 with a 2.88 GAA, and a .909 save percentage.
There’s always the possibility of the team making a trade for a goalie if need be. Before this season started there was a surplus of goalies out on the market. For now, the Coyotes can only hope that Kuemper recovers quickly and that Raanta and Hill can keep them in games.
The playoffs depend on it.