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Coyotes unsure of timeline after Darcy Kuemper setback, Tocchet says

Goaltender Darcy Kuemper #35 of the Arizona Coyotes in action during the third period of the NHL game against the Anaheim Ducks at Gila River Arena on November 27, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Ducks 4-3 in an overtime shootout. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Arizona Coyotes star goalie Darcy Kuemper was scheduled to return from a lower body injury Monday but was reinjured during the morning skate.

The team is still uncertain of a timeline for his return, head coach Rick Tocchet said Wednesday on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf.

“I honestly don’t know. It’s obviously not the next few days, I’ll put it that way,” Tocchet said. “Is it a week from now, two? I don’t know.”

With that said, Tocchet expressed one point of optimism: Kuemper doesn’t have to start a rehab cycle for a new injury.

“It’s not like he’s starting from square one,” Tocchet said. “So that’s the positive news. We’ll see how it reacts. He’s not going to probably be on the ice for four or five days, and then we’ll go from there.”

The Coyotes need him back. They have just two wins over the last 10 games, and four of their next five games come against teams currently in a playoff position.

Kuemper was a frontrunner for the Vezina Trophy before initially suffering the injury Dec. 19. He has a save percentage of .929 and his goals against average is 2.17.

The struggles aren’t all due to Kuemper being out. Arizona has been sluggish over the last month. The Coyotes have struggled to find consistency on both sides of the ice, and Antti Raanta and Adin Hill are filling in at goalie adequately.

Tocchet thinks the team has played better since getting back from the All-Star break, especially at home, and believes the March schedule will be easier.

But getting Kuemper back sooner than later would be a boon.

“You can’t really dwell on it,” Tocchet said. “Darcy’s our best player, we all know that, and we’re going to have to pick up for him.”

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