Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wild may have to accelerate search for backup goalie

From Mike Russo after the Wild's game tonight.

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: November 19, 2013 - 11:00 PM

Ugly, ugly performance tonight by the Wild really for the first time this season when the Montreal Canadiens outskated them from start to finish en route to a 6-2 victory.
The two goals make it sound closer than it actually was. Nino Niederreiter and Dany Heatley each scored with the Wild trailing by five goals, Heatley’s coming with 1.3 seconds left.
Max Pacioretty, who entered the game with two goals, an eight-game goalless drought and all but disappearing from USA Olympic talk, scored three goals (a natural hat trick) on 10 shots.
Josh Harding was pulled for the first time this season, and it was far from his fault. He held the Wild in a scoreless first period and did all he could in a one-sided second period. Coach Mike Yeo gave him the mercy pull so he didn’t have to endure any more punishment and could now have enough in the tank to start Wednesday in Ottawa.
From everything I’ve been told, the plan was to go with Darcy Kuemper in Ottawa (although Yeo was denying that after the game).
Regardless very doubtful that happens now. Kuemper, who gave up three goals on seven shots last month in Toronto, came in and gave up three goals on nine shots to the Canadiens. He was beaten on the first two shots he faced, meaning at that point, he had stopped four of 9 shots this season.
He is 3-7 in the minors with a goals-against just under 3.0. This is a problem, especially with Matt Hackett (who has actually been worse statistically in Rochester) no longer in the organization and Johan Gustafsson having next to no North American pro experience.
Niklas Backstrom is sidelined with a concussion. The Wild has a ton of games coming up, including back-to-backs the next three weeks and in four of the next five (not counting Wednesday). He is doing light workouts but not skating, so my guess now is the Wild will have to somehow add an experienced backup, whether it be trading a draft pick for a Scott Clemmensen-type or signing a Jose Theodore or a Rick DiPietro or a Mathieu Garon or somebody.
But Harding can’t do it all himself and it’s hard to be confident with Kuemper right now until he goes to Iowa and gets his game in order. He just doesn’t look comfortable in net. This kid knows how to play goal. He's played at a high level before. But right now, he's struggling.

Still, goaltending by Harding and Kuemper had nothing to do with tonight’s loss. The Wild, 10-1-2 in its previous 13, just had a clunker that happens over the course of every season.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Spam comments are not approved.