Wild's goaltending depth is worth evaluating

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 8, 2014 - 12:38 AM

The Olympic break will give the Wild time to recharge and size up its roster, especially the guys in goal.

hide

At the Wild game against Nashville, goalie Darcy Kuemper(35) makes a save.

Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

In the interim, Mike Yeo will head to Mexico and, like his players, try to unwind, get some R & R and relieve some stress before returning to Minnesota following the Olympic break.

“It’ll take about three days probably before I stop dreaming about hockey, before I stop writing things down in the middle of the night,” the Wild coach said.

General Manager Chuck Fletcher is sticking around during the 20-day break. Sure, he’ll try to unplug a bit himself, but his goal is to address needs before the March 5 trade deadline. There is a freeze on trades until Feb. 24, the day after the Olympics end.

Of course, the elephant in the room is the Wild goaltending situation, which will need to be put in clearer focus for the stretch run.

The Wild is 11-4-2 in its past 17 games, with a six-point advantage in the Western Conference wild-card race.

“Like every team, we have needs, but this year is interesting because with the cap situation so tight on every team, you’re probably only going to be able to address one need,” Fletcher said. “It’s going to be hard to go out and do everything, so you almost need to pick the most pressing.

“We could probably use upgrades, but we’ve become a pretty tight-knit team through this last stretch, so I’d be very comfortable finishing the season with the team we have.”

If Fletcher had to pick one need?

“We’re a team still in the bottom six offensively, yet over the last month and a half, we’re averaging three goals a game. So you want to be a little careful there and decide if you need to really go out and get scoring,” he said.

“I like the way we defend and we have decent depth, but you could always use another defenseman. We have to figure out our goaltending situation, but we like our depth there, too. So throughout our lineup, we’ve had better depth, which is why we’ve been able to overcome all our injuries.

“But that’s not to say you can’t get better depth and find a way to upgrade a particular position.”

In other words, everything’s up in the air.

First, there’s the chaotic goalie shuffle.

Rookie Darcy Kuemper started 12 consecutive games before the Olympic break and performed commendably, going 8-2-2 in 13 starts since Jan. 7. But he’s 23, so the Wild must decide if Kuemper can take the reins the rest of the season and, potentially, into the playoffs.

The great unknown

The team can’t rely on Josh Harding or Niklas Backstrom being that guy. Backstrom is 5-11-2 with a 3.02 goals-against average and .899 save percentage, hasn’t started since Jan. 11 and has missed three games since Jan. 7 because of soreness he believes is related to abdominal surgery last May.

  • related content

  • Chart: Which Wild goalie is the answer?

    Friday February 7, 2014

    WHICH GOALIE IS THE ANSWER?darcykuemperNo. 3 goalie has started the past 12 games. He is 8-2-2 with 2.18 goals-against average...

  • Wild captain Koivu scratched for Olympic Games

    Saturday February 8, 2014

    Wearing a suit in the tunnel leading to the Wild bench before Thursday’s game against Tampa Bay, Mikko Koivu sheepishly...

  • Niklas Backstrom

  • Darcy Kuemper

  • Josh Harding

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 7:07 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Houston 23 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Houston 7:00 PM
Miami
Indiana 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Utah 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Portland 8:00 PM
Denver
Phoenix 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
LA Clippers 9:30 PM
Golden State
San Jose 6:00 PM
Boston
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Toronto 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Detroit 6:30 PM
Montreal
Arizona 7:00 PM
Nashville
Carolina 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Philadelphia 7:30 PM
Chicago
Vancouver 7:30 PM
Dallas
Florida 8:00 PM
Colorado
Tampa Bay 8:00 PM
Calgary
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite Wild player?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close