Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper named NHL’s third star of the week
The NHL named Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper one of its Three Stars of the Week on Monday, along with Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi.
Kuemper was the third star for a week in which the 28-year-old recorded two shutouts, going 2-0-1 with a 0.65 goals against average and .979 save percentage. He shut out the Blackhawks and the Wild at home and lost to the Avalanche in a shootout, stopping 95 of 97 shots faced in those three games.
The seventh-year netminder is having a career season as he’s filled in for the injured starter Antti Raanta. Kuemper owns a .924 save percentage and a 2.34 goals against average in 53 games played (all starts).
Kuemper made his 20th consecutive start on Sunday, tying the third-longest streak for consecutive starts by a goaltender in franchise history.
“The confidence in him right now, he’s unbelievable,” Coyotes forward Josh Archibald said on Sunday. “He’s the backbone of our team right now. He’s made timely saves, he’s made huge saves. He’s just been a tremendous team guy for us and we couldn’t thank him enough for everything he’s done so far.”
If the Coyotes start Kuemper in each of their remaining three games in the regular season, he’ll reach 56 starts on the season. That would be the most starts by a Coyotes goalie since Mike Smith started 61 games in 2014-15. That’s remarkable, given that Kuemper entered the year as the backup and didn’t become the starter until Raanta went down with an injury at the end of November.
As of Monday morning, Kuemper ranked 11th in the NHL in games started with 53. Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk leads the league with 65.
Kuemper previously played five seasons with the Minnesota Wild and half a season with the L.A. Kings. He has never started more than 28 games in a season before this year, but he’s also never put up the numbers and performances that he is currently.
“He’s always had the talent,” head coach Rick Tocchet said. “I don’t know if he had the opportunity, I don’t know. All I know is that he approached (GM) John Chayka and (goaltending coach) Corey Schwab and wanted to have a meeting, and he wasn’t happy with his game, and since that, he looked at himself, he’s been terrific. He’s been (one of the) top two, three goalies in the league.”