Scoggins: Wild down to third goalie, and down 3-1 in series

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 8, 2013 - 6:59 AM

The Wild is running out of goalies. Darcy Kuemper had to fill in Tuesday.

Darcy Kuemper began the Wild’s playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks as the Houston Aeros’ No. 1 goalie in the minor league playoffs.

Now, after four games, he’s the Wild’s only healthy goalie on the roster. That’s never a good sign for any team, especially one that’s suddenly clinging to its playoff life.

Kuemper, a rookie who turned 23 on Sunday, replaced an injured Josh Harding in the second period of Game 4 on Tuesday and promptly gave up a soft goal on the first shot he faced in a 3-0 loss to the Blackhawks at Xcel Energy Center.

“As a backup, your job is to be ready if you’re needed,” Kuemper said. “No excuses. I’ve got to be focused and ready to go in there.”

The question now becomes whether Kuemper, Harding or Niklas Backstrom draws the starting assignment in an elimination Game 5 in Chicago on Thursday night.

Or someone else. The Wild is suddenly running out of goalies.

By the way, anyone have a number for Manny Fernandez?

Harding appeared to injure his left leg in a first period collision with Chicago’s Jonathan Toews on a breakaway. Toews missed the shot but ended up on top of Harding, who got up slowly flexing his left knee.

During a stoppage a few minutes later, athletic trainer Don Fuller came on the ice to check on Harding, who tested his knee before finishing the period. He clearly didn’t look comfortable, especially when he was forced to pop up after going down for a save, and he skated gingerly to the bench at the end of the period with the Wild trailing 1-0.

Harding’s status remained unknown until the videoboard showed Kuemper leading the team down the tunnel from the locker room before the second period.

Gulp.

“Obviously it’s not the easiest thing to do, but it’s your job as a backup,” he said. “I just tried to get ready and focused as quick as I could.”

The rookie appeared in only six games this season, posting a 1-2 record in three starts. The team made him an emergency call-up after Backstrom suffered a lower-body injury during warm-ups in Game 1. The team hasn’t divulged the extent of Backstrom’s injury, but he still was not healthy enough to assume the backup role for Game 4. His timetable for return presumably will get accelerated now by Harding’s injury.

Backstrom actually got dressed into his goalie gear and watched the third period from the bench. According to league rules, he was eligible to play even though he was initially scratched because of Harding’s injury. That was preferable to Game 1 when Harding played without a backup.

This was an unfortunate break for Harding. He had played well in relief of Backstrom the first three games of the series and continued to serve as an inspiration to many by the courage he’s displayed in battling multiple sclerosis.

Even if Backstrom is not 100 percent — and he’s likely not — the Wild needs him in Game 5 to have any chance against a talented Blackhawks team looking to close out a series in what figures to be a hostile United Center.

That’s too much to ask of Kuemper, who didn’t exactly script a banner start to his NHL playoff debut. Kuemper gave up a goal 1 minute, 2 seconds into the period on a routine wrist shot by Patrick Sharp.

Welcome to the playoffs, rook.

“It wasn’t a good goal,” Kuemper said. “It’s a tough situation to go into, but no excuses. Not a goal I’d like to let in.”

Kuemper entered the game in a tough spot, and Zach Parise didn’t help the cause by committing a turnover that led to Sharp’s goal. That misadventure gave Chicago a 2-0 lead and sucked the life out of Xcel Energy Center. Fans probably feared an onslaught approaching at that point.

Kuemper settled in after his shaky start, but it hardly mattered because the Hawks tightened the screws defensively and blocked a boatload of shots to help their goalie, Corey Crawford.

That highlighted a different problem: If the Wild can’t score, it doesn’t matter who’s in goal.

 

 

Chip Scoggins • ascoggins@startribune.com

 

  • related content

  • Video: Wild on what went wrong in Game 4

    Wednesday May 8, 2013

    Facing a Stanley Cup playoff elimination game against powerhouse Chicago, the Wild is running out of time to figure...

  • Darcy Kuemper gave up two goals in his emergency relief role for the Wild in a 3-0 loss against the Blackhawks on Tuesday night. He stopped 16 shots in Game 4 after relieving an injured Josh Harding to start the second period.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Toronto 73 3rd Qtr 2:44
Indiana 57
Cleveland 47 3rd Qtr
Detroit 39
Milwaukee 54 3rd Qtr
Miami 50
Memphis 2 1st Qtr 9:44
Dallas 6
Chicago 9:30 PM
Golden State
Washington 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
NY Rangers 0 3rd Prd
NY Islanders 2
Arizona 3 3rd Prd
Philadelphia 3
Winnipeg 2 3rd Prd
Pittsburgh 2
Washington 2 3rd Prd
Columbus 3
Tampa Bay 1 2nd Prd 14:13
Carolina 2
Dallas 1 2nd Prd 14:59
Montreal 3
Detroit 2 2nd Prd 14:02
Florida 2
Colorado 1 1st Prd :03
Nashville 0
Buffalo 8:00 PM
Calgary
Minnesota 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Anaheim 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Ball State 44 2nd Half 4:05
Akron 54
Northern Ill 41 2nd Half 4:53
Bowling Green 49
Western Mich 57 2nd Half 3:47
Buffalo 66
Ohio 38 2nd Half 1:31
Eastern Mich 68
Xavier 48 2nd Half 7:55
Georgetown 35
Vanderbilt 50 2nd Half 3:44
Georgia 57
West Virginia 46 2nd Half 9:32
Kansas State 41
Central Mich 40 2nd Half 7:06
Kent State 47
Saint Josephs 46 2nd Half 3:05
La Salle 45
Nebraska 41 2nd Half 2:07
Michigan 56
Miami-Ohio 57 2nd Half 2:21
Toledo 65
Tulsa 55 2nd Half 3:08
Tulane 42
George Washington 35 2nd Half 7:31
VA Commonwealth 53
Pittsburgh 53 2nd Half 5:15
Virginia Tech 49
Indiana State 26 1st Half 6:30
Evansville 28
Tabor College 17 1st Half 3:42
Oral Roberts 34
Florida 8:00 PM
Alabama
Tennessee 8:00 PM
Arkansas
Texas A&M 8:00 PM
Auburn
Baylor 8:00 PM
Oklahoma State
DePaul 0 Postponed
Providence 0
Michigan State 0 Postponed
Rutgers 0
Wyoming 8:00 PM
Utah State
Fresno State 8:05 PM
San Diego St
UNLV 9:00 PM
Nevada
SD Christian 9:00 PM
CS-Bakersfield
Colorado State 10:00 PM
Boise State
Columbia International 33 FINAL
Charleston Southern 74
Temple 66 2nd Half 4:22
UCF 45
Campbell 40 2nd Half 5:08
Presbyterian 44
Coastal Carolina 54 2nd Half 3:44
High Point 69
Gardner-Webb 41 2nd Half 5:21
Radford 50
UNC-Asheville 53 2nd Half 2:47
Liberty 56
Winthrop 57 2nd Half 1:55
Longwood 55
Tulane 24 1st Half 2:46
Houston 18
(3) Baylor 46 1st Half 0:05
TCU 34
Navy 19 1st Half 2:23
American Univ 27
Valparaiso 13 1st Half 0:59
Illinois-Chicago 22

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What chance does the Wild have of making the playoffs?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close