Minnesota Wild shift to playoff-untested goaltender

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild will hand goalie Darcy Kuemper his first NHL playoff start as they try to rally in their series against the Colorado Avalanche.

Kuemper will try to build on his mop-up performance in Game 2 in which he stopped all 14 shots he faced.

The Wild (down 2-0 in the series) raised some eyebrows in March when they acquired Ilya Bryzgalov at the trade deadline when other goalies were available. He silenced critics when he put together a 7-0-3 run. But he has slipped back into his old playoff ways. Spectacular in spot duty with the Anaheim Ducks in 2006 and 2007, he has had a goals-against average north of 3.4 in each of his last four postseasons.

Kuemper has only two professional playoff starts before this season. But he did put together a five-game winning streak spanning the Olympic break before Bryzgalov arrived. He was pulled, though, in a start against the Avalanche on Jan. 30.

The goalie move has no long-term impact because Bryzgalov is likely a short-term solution. His contract runs out this summer and the Wild have Josh Harding (illness) and Niklas Backstrom (season-ending injury) under contract for next season.

Sometimes, changing up a goaltender can shift momentum in a series. It's not great every time – I would not necessarily sub out Jonathan Quick, even with his 7.20 goals-against average and .824 save percentage so far in the playoffs – but in the Minnesota case, it's a good calculated risk.


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