Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Arizona Coyotes

'Yotes Notes: Kuemper Embraces Bigger Role, Heavier Workload

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

BUFFALO -- Darcy Kuemper's workload will be hefty as the Coyotes move forward in 2018-19 without Antti Raanta, who is out indefinitely because of a lower-body injury.

"It's really unfortunate any time you see a teammate go down," Kuemper said. "It's bad luck on his part. But, from my standpoint, I'm excited for the opportunity and I'm ready to take the bull by the horns here and do my part to help the team get into the playoffs."

Kuemper returned to Arizona's net on Tuesday and stopped 22 of 26 shots in a 4-3 loss at Boston. He missed eight consecutive games before that one nursing a lower-body injury after starting eight games in a row. He said he tried to make the most of being out of the lineup by working closely with Goaltending Coach Corey Schwab once he was able to skate again.

"It gives you some time to work on some fundamentals that you don't really have the time to work on when you're playing lots," Kuemper said of his 19-day hiatus. "It gave me some one-on-one time with 'Schwabby' so I tried to use it the best that I could, and just tried to get something out of it everyday."

Video: Kuemper on Taking the Net

The Coyotes also have rookie Adin Hill and Calvin Pickard on the roster, but the coaching staff is counting on Kuemper to seize the vacated No.1 goalie slot for the rest of the season, or until Raanta returns.

Kuemper has played 143 NHL games. His career high for games in one season is 31, which he set in 2014-15 with Minnesota. He also played in one playoff game that season. He's already played 12 games this season with 53 left on the schedule.

"The most important thing is for Darcy to step up," Schwab said. "This is an opportunity. This is why we have him, and we knew coming into the season one guy doesn't play every game. Whether it's a game every third or fourth (start) or (going) for a stretch of five or six (straight), he showed that he was capable of doing that."

Alex Galchenyuk, who missed Tuesday's game at Boston because of a lower-body injury, did not practice with teammates on Wednesday. Head Coach Rick Tocchet said Galchenyuk is day-to-day. 

• The Coyotes will play three road games in four days starting Thursday vs. the Sabres. The New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes are next on the schedule on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

Brad Richardson said the Coyotes can't use the recent rash of injuries to Raanta, Michael Grabner, Vinnie Hinostroza, et al, as an excuse for losses.

"Everyone is missing players, you've just got find a way to get through it," Richardson said. "Guys need to step up. Other teams do it."

Richardson said he liked how the team's fourth line - which consisted of American Hockey League call-ups Mario Kempe, Conor Garland and Michael Bunting - hustled and set the tone on Tuesday. 

So did Tocchet.

"That line was good," Tocchet said. "They gave us some territory time in Boston. They weren't in trouble very often and they got a goal. They did their job for us." 

• Garland is eager to play Thursday's game vs. Buffalo, and not just because it's only his third NHL game, but also because it will be his first time playing an NHL game against former youth hockey teammate Jack Eichel, the Sabres captain.

Garland and Eichel were linemates for multiple seasons as youth hockey standouts while growing up in the Boston area. Eichel played center and Garland was a winger. 

"I played with Jack forever," Garland said, "and he had the same shot that he has now when he was 15, so it was very easy to play with him."

On Tuesday vs. Boston, Garland played against another former youth hockey teammate and friend, Ryan Donato, a rookie with the Bruins. Both are 22-year-old natives of Scituate, Mass.

 Video: OEL on Road Trip

View More