As speculated in today's paper, the Wild did indeed flip backup goalies this morning. With Niklas Backstrom sidelined with a concussion, Johan Gustafsson was reassigned to AHL Iowa and Darcy Kuemper recalled for the two-game road trip to Montreal and Ottawa (actually a four-game trip, but the Wild's returning home Thursday before heading to Winnipeg on Friday for practice).
Kuemper will likely start Wednesday in Ottawa unless the Wild acquires another backup beforehand. Kuemper has had a very up and down year for Iowa, and that was epitomized this past weekend when he got lit up Friday night but came back Saturday and made 32 saves in a 1-0 loss to Milwaukee.
But Gustafsson is not ready for an NHL start. So Kuemper is the guy. The 6-5 former Western Hockey League Player of the Year and Canadian Hockey League Goalie of the Year went 1-2-0 with a 2.08 GAA and a .916 SV% in six games (three starts) with the Wild last season (excluding postseason).
In Toronto earlier this year, Kuemper gave up three goals on seven shots in 31 minutes and was pulled in a game the Wild absolutely dominated. The hope is that was an aberration because he was treated like a yo-yo during that time. Remember, he was up in Minnesota as a backup, was returned to Iowa to make his first start of the season, then flew to Buffalo to serve as backup to Josh Harding before starting in Toronto the next night.
We talked to Kuemper today and he believes it was just a blip on the radar. He's confident going into Wednesday's expected start. I'll put those quotes in Wednesday's paper.
As I've reported, if Backstrom is going to be out long, I'd suspect the Wild gets a backup in here via signing, trade or waivers. Jason LaBarbera was placed on waivers today by the Edmonton Oilers. It'll be interesting to see if he is of interest to Minnesota or any of the other teams -- Chicago, Islanders, Los Angeles, Nashville -- who suddenly need goalies. He has 60 NHL wins, although ... he'd be a true stopgap. The puck has a hard time hitting him and he doesn't exactly get my heart racing.
After doing a little digging, it would surprise me if the Wild put in a claim.
I talked to Josh Harding, and he told me his red pads won't be worn in games because his teammates say they see holes easier behind him. I then showed Harding pics of Trevor Kidd's infamous checkered pads in Carolina and Florida. Kidder was a treat to cover, by the way.
I'm doing a big story on Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund tomorrow. As I wrote in yesterday's blog, Team Finland's GM Jari Kurri and coach Erkka Westerlund were at the game watching them for the Olympics, and I talked to both men.
I'm also writing about Marco Scandella, who is playing great and is returning to play in his hometown of Montreal for the second time. He was real good today.
And, from the NHL:
Los Angeles Kings goaltender Ben Scrivens,
Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin and Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding
have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Nov. 17.
FIRST STAR – BEN SCRIVENS, G, LOS ANGELES KINGS
Scrivens went 3-0-1 with a 0.66 goals-against average, .977 save
percentage and two shutouts to help the Kings improve to 14-6-1 (29
points), their best record through the first 21 games of a season since
1990-91 (15-5-1, 31 points). He relieved injured starter Jonathan Quick for
the final 1:20 of overtime, serving as the goaltender of record in a 3-2
shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres Nov. 12. Scrivens then started the next
three games, posting 23 saves in a 3-2 comeback victory over the New York
Islanders Nov. 14 and recording consecutive shutouts against the New Jersey
Devils Nov. 15 (26 saves) and New York Rangers Nov. 17 (37 saves). The
27-year-old native of Spruce Grove, Alta., has not allowed a goal in his
last 155:02 of playing time and leads the NHL with a 1.24 goals-against
average, .955 save percentage and three shutouts in eight appearances this
SECOND STAR – TYLER SEGUIN, C, DALLAS STARS
Seguin paced all players with five goals and tied for first with
seven points in leading the Stars to three straight victories. He scored
the insurance marker in a 3-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers Nov. 13. Seguin
then tallied a career-high four goals, including the game-winner, and five
points in a 7-3 triumph over the Calgary Flames Nov. 14, becoming the first
Stars player to register four goals in a game since Nov. 16, 2007 (Jussi
Jokinen). He capped the week by collecting an assist in a 2-1 victory over
the Vancouver Canucks Nov. 17, extending his point streak to four games
(6-2—8). The 21-year-old native of Brampton, Ont., leads the Stars, and is
tied for sixth in the NHL, with 12-11—23 in 20 games this season.
THIRD STAR – JOSH HARDING, G, MINNESOTA WILD
Harding posted a 3-0-0 record with a 1.38 goals-against average
and .939 save percentage to help the Wild improve to 13-4-4 (30 points),
their most points through the first 21 games of a season in franchise
history. He relieved injured starter Niklas Backstrom in a 2-1 win over the
Toronto Maple Leafs Nov. 13, stopping 19 shots, plus another two in the
shootout, in 54:29 of playing time. Harding then recorded 22 saves in a 3-2
victory over the Florida Panthers Nov. 15 and 21 stops in a 2-1 triumph
over the Winnipeg Jets Nov. 17 to extend his home-ice winning streak to 10
games. The 29-year-old native of Regina, Sask., is 12-2-2 in 17 appearances
this season and ranks second in the League in goals-against average (1.25),
save percentage (.946) and shutouts (tied, 2).