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Avalanche To Face Darcy Kuemper; How Is He Doing In Washington?



Darcy Kuemper

The answer to the above question is pretty much like it always seemed like it was in Colorado in his one year here: Some good games, some bad games. Darcy Kuemper remains hard to define as a goalie.

Look, Avalanche fans should always give Darcy Kuemper warm thoughts. He won the Stanley Cup as the No. 1 goalie. He’s got his name chiseled on the Cup forever and ever and ever. It can’t be taken away. But, so far at least, the Avalanche have not looked foolish in the decision not to sign him to a long-term extension.

His record, coming into Saturday’s game with the Avalanche, is 5-8-1. His saves percentage of .911 is below his final number of .921 last season. His goals-against average of 2.73 is above last year’s 2.54.

Avalanche management is feeling good about its goaltending duo right now, of Alexandar Georgiev and Pavel Francouz. The Capitals are paying Darcy Kuemper $6 million per for the first of five years, at least that’s what the contract says they must do.

Capitals fans haven’t seemed to warm up much to Kuemper yet. He was pulled early in a game last week against Tampa Bay in which he allowed four goals on the first nine shots. There were plenty of not-so-nice comments about him on Capitals fan message boards. He stopped 38-of-42 shots in his next game, though, a loss to Florida.

With the Avalanche, there was that same kind of good-one-night, bad-the-next-night aspect to his game. But, to his credit at least, he showed up in the biggest of games and, if he didn’t stand on his head too often, he at least got the job done. That’s the bottom line with Darcy Kuemper, in his one year with the Colorado Avalanche.

He had kind of a mercenary year. He was a hired gun, to get a job done. He got it done. No, he didn’t paint many Mona Lisas here. But he got the job done. Sometimes, all you need to do paint is by the numbers. That is art too, right?

The problem, as I see it with Washington: He’s an aging guy playing on an aging team. He doesn’t have the kind of defense playing in front of him like he did with the Avalanche. I don’t like the odds of things working out great between him and the Caps in the long-term.

That said, maybe he goes out Saturday night and pitches a shutout on the Avalanche. He is just unpredictable enough to do something like that. Against a short-handed Avalanche team that was damn lucky to win the other night in Carolina, he will theoretically have an easier time against this Avalanche team than had it been healthier.

Kuemper actually started the season pretty well for Washington, compiling a 4-3-1 record, .922 saves percentage and 2.39 GAA. Things have not gone as well since.

The thing that drove Avalanche fans slightly crazy in Kuemper’s one year here was his tendency to give up some soft goal in weird times. Like, Game 5 against St. Louis, second round of playoffs, at home, a 3-0 lead – then the game – squandered. Tyler Bozak beat Kuemper on a long shot from the point to win that game in overtime, after Kuemper allowed a rebound goal with about a minute left that tied the game 4-4 – not long after Nathan MacKinnon scored one fo the greatest playoff goals in Avalanche history to give his team a 4-3 lead with about two minutes left.

Sometimes, it just seemed like the Avalanche had to win in spite of Kuemper. That said, he won the Cup.

No one can take it away from him.

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