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Should Minnesota keep starting Kuemper?

Mar 28, 2014, 11:03 AM EDT

Darcy Kuemper AP

Heading into this year, Darcy Kuemper was the No. 3 goalie in the Minnesota organization, parked firmly behind Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding in AHL Iowa.

Today, he’s the club’s No. 1 — and feeling the pressure that comes along with it.

Kuemper suffered his second poor outing in a row in Thursday’s 5-1 loss to St. Louis, which came 24 hours after he was hooked in favor of Ilya Bryzgalov for allowing three goals on 12 shots against Vancouver. Suddenly, the Wild — who were in good shape for the first wild card berth in the West — are just one point up on eighth-place Phoenix, and six up on ninth-place Dallas.

“I’ll be honest, I feel bad for [Kuemper]. I do,” head coach Mike Yeo told the Minnesota Star-Tribune. “This is a guy, we wouldn’t even be sitting here in the position that we’re in if he didn’t give us the stretch of hockey that he’s given us.”

On the year, Kuemper’s numbers are solid — 12-8-4, .915 save percentage, 2.43 GAA — but his recent performances have been bad. He’s allowed at least three goals in each of his last four starts, all losses, while posting a ghastly .851 save percentage.

Unsurprisingly, the heat of the playoff chase seems to have gotten to Kuemper. At 23,  he’s got a very limited body of NHL work — just six games last year, 26 this year — and it’s important to remember that two years ago, he was in the ECHL with the Orlando Solar Bears.

The inexperience might be starting to show. On Thursday, Kuemper appeared somewhat flustered after a series of altercations with Blues captain David Backes.

From the Star-Tribune:

[Backes] cross-checked little Jared Spurgeon, crushed little Mikael Granlund and ruthlessly trash-talked goalie Darcy Kuemper from the bench.

Kuemper initiated things with Backes by cross-checking him at the goalmouth, then got in his face.

“That’s where I’ve played a long time,” Backes said. “When I feel disrespected, I’m going to stand my ground and see if there’s any response.”

Backes’ verbal abuse of Kuemper wasn’t done there, either:

The issue Minnesota’s facing now is much more than a question of whether Kuemper or Bryzgalov should start for the rest of this season and the playoffs.

If Kuemper’s the goalie of the future — and by the way people within the Wild organization talk, they believe he is — there has to be some consideration to protecting him, and keeping his confidence from getting shattered.

  1. lordfletcher - Mar 28, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    Coming to the realization that i’ve wasted too much of my life on this squad in 2013 & 2014.

    Literately don’t care any more till playoffs or draft. Wake me up when this team finally gets a f’n clue.

    Fletcher will be letting Yeo go and I know im in the minority but I really hope they move Koivu and bring in another center. Sick of him. Done

    F everything right now. Beat PHX for the love of Jesus!!!

    • hockey412 - Mar 28, 2014 at 11:27 AM

      Does Jesus not like the Yotes?

      • guitarhunterdude - Mar 28, 2014 at 12:43 PM

        Seems like he likes them more than the Wild. And it’s hard to blame him.

    • guitarhunterdude - Mar 28, 2014 at 12:41 PM

      Move Koivu, Pominville and other semi-tradeable old farts to contenders for this year’s picks/future picks/prospects and start the rebuild. We need to suck in earnest before we can actually be good.
      This franchise needs a real generational talent badly. Along with a new coach, new medical staff, etc. Get rid of everyone and everything we can outside of Fletcher, Flahr, and Bob Mason.

      • strictlythedanks - Mar 28, 2014 at 4:40 PM

        Why on earth Pommer be moved? thats absurd, 27 goals 24 assists. Leading the wild in points and scoring is our biggest flaw, not to mention his chemistry with Granny and Parise.

      • clarke16 - Mar 28, 2014 at 7:08 PM

        Koivu is the first player that should be moved. Pominville is the last. Pominville is the mold of what they are trying to build this team into

  2. greej1938l - Mar 28, 2014 at 11:41 AM

    They don’t have a choice!!! Bryzgalov is good for a game here and there….any other solutions? No

  3. clarke16 - Mar 28, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    The move at this point is to go with the veteran for the next 3-4 and let the kid adjust to the pressure a bit. They’ll be needing him with his mind right.

  4. yetidad - Mar 28, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    Anybody got Laviolette’s phone number? Or Pierre McGuire’s? Why not shake the team up right now by letting Yeo go before the playoffs? Could it really hurt at this point? My mild mannered 9 year old daughter blurted out in the middle of the game, “The Wild suck, Dad.” Since I was inwardly agreeing with her I held back from admonishing her for her coarse truthfulness…..

    • spiciercheez - Mar 28, 2014 at 1:33 PM

      Oh goodness. What brutal comment. Fire the coach with 8 games left hahah wow man, is it really that big of a shock to lose the second of a back to back to the best team in the league at their barn? Lets see what happens tomorrow and then we can freak out, eh? I’d say thats fair.

  5. feedmetherock - Mar 28, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    The Wild will get Vanek in the offseason and Coyle, Dumba, Brodin and others will continue to develop and get better. I think the Wild will be really solid next year. This year, they are probably one and done, but Keumper probably needs a breather for a game or two and see how Bryz does. And then re-evaluate then.

    • lordfletcher - Mar 28, 2014 at 3:09 PM

      Players may develop may not… MN sports fans are sick of hearing this year in and year out.

      This team needs to be shaken up. New identity. New coach. New captain

      F
      F
      F!!!!!!!

      F Norm Green. Hate that man

      • lordfletcher - Mar 28, 2014 at 3:12 PM

        Also Yeo should not have played Kuemper last night. Think about how dumb that was… Additionally playing Brodziak and Heatley as often as he chooses is simply fireable. I know the Wild are weak at experienced centers right now but unlike Russo, I think Brodz simply can be replaced with peanuts. Move Coyle back to C and have Fonzie on second line. Dude scores goals. Weird

  6. nicofthenorthstar - Mar 28, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    As brutal as he has been, the team in front of his has been at least as awful, probably worse. Same old same old, MN Mild stretch run melt down exemplified by nothing more so than a complete lack of scoring ability.
    Also, as brutal as kuemper has been, I salute him for given Backes the business. Maybe dude should stay off of Kuemper’s porch if he doesn’t want to deal with the consequences.

  7. jeffr85392 - Mar 28, 2014 at 4:04 PM

    Leave him in there. My Coyotes play Minnesota on Saturday with a chance to jump the Wild. Kuemper definitely deserves another another chance (tee hee!)

  8. greej1938l - Mar 28, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    Man you seem to have all the answers Lord. If only it were that easy.

  9. greej1938l - Mar 28, 2014 at 4:16 PM

    I do agree bout Fontaine why the heck isn’t he playing consistently!?

    • guitarhunterdude - Mar 28, 2014 at 4:29 PM

      Because he’s not been a good possession player. He’s not generating consistent scoring chances, he’s just shooting 18% on the year. He looks like a solid fourth/third line guy, but he’d get shredded in tougher minutes.

      • lordfletcher - Mar 28, 2014 at 4:57 PM

        Hard to know if you don’t give him the chance and its not like others are doing well that play evrrynight, cough, the last three weeks.

        I hear what youre saying but clearly playing brodz and heater wont bring us the cup and becides both won’t be here next year anyhow.

  10. clarke16 - Mar 28, 2014 at 7:04 PM

    WHINE, WHINE, FIRE THE COACH, WHINE SOME MORE…BLOW IT ALL UP AND START OVER, WHINE AGAIN… You’d think these are all Vikings fans being themselves in the wintertime…

    • slickvb82 - Mar 29, 2014 at 8:57 AM

      haha they probably are…..you have to look at it like it is, MN sports fans.

  11. vstar1us - Mar 29, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    The question was should they keep staring Kemp?
    Yes they should the kid will not get better sitting on the bench. In stead of complaining about him why is no one complaining the 98 million dollar defenseman! If you have solid players in front of you, you have better chances. Also the trend for the forwards look like it is heading back to the dump the puck in and chase. We are a very weak team we get pushed off pucks, and our turn overs are terrible. So it comes back to the question, should we keep starting Kemp?

    YES

  12. bluesdroogie - Mar 29, 2014 at 6:20 PM

    I think the signing of 2 players for 100 million hurt this team. Best of luck to Josh Harding who is a GREAT goalie. Looks like the wild should have gone for Halak via buffalo Not that idiot bryzgalov.

    • lordfletcher - Mar 29, 2014 at 11:55 PM

      Haha. No

      Horrible

      Briz for a fourth is tremendous value…Get over hating briz cuz halak is average at best

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