When an NHL team loses their starting goalie, they can usually survive by going with their backup. So, what happens if both the starter and backup go down? That is exactly the predicament the Arizona Coyotes found themselves in last season. So, what are the chances that the same scenario would happen again this season? Obviously pretty good because currently, both Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta are currently out with injuries. With the Arizona Coyotes goalie injuries, what does that do to their goal to be a playoff team?
Arizona Coyotes Goalie Injuries Forcing Them To Go With Reserve Goalies
It now is up to third string goalie Adin Hill and taxi squad netminder Ivan Prosvetov. With Kuemper still week-to-week and Raanta looking like he won’t return for the rest of the season, it places tremendous pressure on Adin Hill. He responded well with a 35-save performance shootout victory against the Cup contending Colorado Avalanche on March 23rd.
Unfortunately, he only has managed a 1-3 record, matching that of Raanta in relief of Kuemper. So, to put it mildly, the Coyotes are certainly missing their starting goalie. Their 2-6 record emphasizes the importance of having a healthy starter and backup in the net. It’s not certain why both Kuemper and especially Raanta have had so many injuries.
Looking Towards the Goaltending Future
Before Darcy Kuemper’s untimely injury absence he had been the topic of trade rumours. Then, there were rumours of the Toronto Maple Leafs perhaps interested in him. Could the Leafs give up Alexander Kerfoot or Zach Hyman? Now with Kuemper’s injury and no guarantee he’ll return before the April 12th trade deadline, Kuemper may stay in a Coyotes’ uniform till season’s end.
The case of Antti Raanta is completely different. His continued unexplained or resolved injury history almost makes it impossible to trade him. More than likely, he will go to free agency, and unless a team is really desperate for a goalie, he will have difficulty finding a landing spot.
Now with Adin Hill, this opportunity to show that he can be a quality NHL goalie is presenting itself to him. This season he has a 2-3-1 record and a 2.97 goals-against-average. His save percentage is .906. While with the Coyotes he has accumulated a 12-15-4 record with a 2.84 GAA, and a .907 save percentage.
The thing with Hill is he could very likely be unprotected in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft in July. Depending on the future status of Kuemper, Hill could very well become the new starter in net. Whether Prosvetov who has yet to play an NHL game, is ready to step in as a backup under those circumstances is yet to be determined.
Without Strong Goaltending the Coyotes Are a Weak Team
Without the strong goaltending exhibited by Kuemper, the Coyotes struggle to win games. They are 27th in scoring and 19th in defending. A strong goalie keeps his team in games and while it isn’t completely sustainable, that formula has won games for the Arizona club. If they can’t determine how to score more, or don’t infuse this team with some badly needed offence, they are doomed to go to the playoffs.
No matter if Adin Hill plays out of his head, the prospects of the Coyotes getting to the playoffs is jeopardized. Not only has this club been bitten with goalie injuries, they recently lost defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson and forward Tyler Pitlick to injuries. With just 23 games left in the regular season, the Coyotes are still in the hunt for a playoff spot, but the injuries may do them in.
Playoffs Within Reach… But
Even with the injuries this team is enduring, they still have a shot to be in the playoffs. As of March 26th, they trail the St. Louis Blues by just four points for the final spot. Of course, that all important regulation wins tiebreaker is in favour of the Blues who have three more of those vital wins.
Then, they also are attempting to stay ahead of the Los Angeles Kings who have one game in hand and only trail the Desert Dogs by a single point. The San Jose Sharks, who are visiting for two games March 26th and 27th, are three points back with two games in hand.
Losing both of your top-two goalies, a key defenceman who acts like a goalie blocking shots, and a forward who has been playing well (two points in his last five games) isn’t exactly ideal. Still, this team still has some fight left in it, and we’ll see if it’s enough to get them to the postseason.
Getting some guys healthy again has to be a key goal.