RandBall: Wild's strong playoff hopes rest with one man
- Blog Post by: Michael Rand
- February 27, 2014 - 9:32 AM
But the biggest number is 1. One man that this season could very well ultimately be riding upon. And that man is one few would have counted on at the start of the year: young goalie Darcy Kuemper.
Michael Russo wrote a nice piece on the happy-go-lucky Kuemper for today's paper as the Wild prepares to resume at Edmonton tonight following the Olympic break.
Without a lot of things this season -- the early work of the now-sidelined Josh Harding, a few grind-them-out wins in early January after late December slide and the emergence of some of the team's younger forwards, to name a few -- those playoff odds wouldn't be so keen.
But if you're looking for the savior of the season, the one keeping a very realistic playoff hope alive, in our mind it is Kuemper. He hasn't matched the lights-out brilliance Harding brought when he was healthy earlier this year, but with Niklas fighting an injury and the puck for so much of his season, Kuemper's 8-3-2 record and 2.46 GAA have kept things from falling apart on average nights and flat-out stolen games on others.
The goaltending picture for this team going forward still looks strangely murky. Backstrom's contract and health, Harding's health and Kuemper's relative inexperience will be a riddle to solve in the offseason. For now, the Wild should be thrilled to ride whatever steadiness Kuemper can continue to provide into a quite possible second consecutive playoff berth.
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