Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper sent back to Arizona for evaluation

Mar 9, 2021, 3:49 PM | Updated: 9:02 pm
Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper prepares for play to resume after a timeout in the first p...
Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper prepares for play to resume after a timeout in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche, Monday, March 8, 2021, in downtown Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet said that goalie Darcy Kuemper will be heading back to Arizona amid an eight-game road trip for evaluation.

Kuemper was seen laboring and then finally pulled with the score tied early in the third period of the Coyotes’ win over the Colorado Avalanche on Monday.

The Coyotes announced he would be placed on the IR on Tuesday, missing at least one week of action.

“He’s still being evaluated and we’re hoping to have a further timetable hopefully today or tomorrow,” Tocchet said in a press conference on Tuesday.

Backup Antti Raanta stopped all 16 shots he faced in relief of Kuemper as the Coyotes were able to take the lead shortly after the goalie change.

“Mentally you get a lot of confidence from yesterday,” Raanta said to the media.

Tocchet said that Raanta will be the main guy between the pipes for the time being.

“He’s got the ball now,” Tocchet said.

The Coyotes sit just one position short in the standings of a playoff spot with four games coming up on the schedule against the two teams ahead of them.

Each win will come at a premium.

“I know I’m good enough to be in this league,” Raanta said. “I’m good enough to get the wins and help the team.”

He will have some big shoes to fill in place of Kuemper, who has put up some impressive numbers this season.

Kuemper has faced the 15th most shots in the NHL this season and ranks 14th in saves.

His 18 starts rank tied for 9th in the NHL this season.

Raanta and third-string goalie Adin Hill have started a combined seven games, but both goalies have picked up wins in relief appearances when Kuemper has gone down with injury.

“I’m ready and excited for any opportunity I might get,” Hill said on Tuesday.

Hill has posted a 2.24 GAA and .930 save percentage in his two appearances this season.

Both Raanta and Hill have compiled a combined 5-3-1 record this season in Kuemper’s absence and will be asked to keep the ship straight as the Coyotes finish up a seven-game road trip with one more against Colorado, three against the Minnesota Wild and two against the Anaheim Ducks.

Road warriors

Tocchet discussed the team’s success on the road as the Coyotes are riding a five-game, road-winning streak that spans back to Feb. 4 against the St. Louis Blues.

“Logistically, sometimes, for coaches it’s better on the road. It just seems its easier to get things done,” Tocchet said.

“I think the guys enjoy being together.”

Fast start

The Coyotes got out to a quick two-goal lead after the first period against the Avalanche on Monday.

It was the first time the Coyotes carried a lead into the first intermission since their road win streak started.

“That start gives us confidence to play a full 60 minutes,” Tocchet said. “You need depth. You need consistency. You need everyone to play.”

The coach was not so happy with the way the team played in the second period and said the team is still looking to put together a full 60-minute game.

“You can’t play 60 minutes with 12 guys, 13 guys ready to go,” Tocchet said. “It’s impossible.

“You got to have everybody on the same page.”

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