After posting a 3-0 shutout against the Calgary Flames on Saturday, Arizona Coyotes’ goaltender Darcy Kuemper sat on Monday against the Los Angeles Kings. And while it would ultimately prove to be the right move, as Antti Raanta would post his own 3-0 shutout, it is a bit surprising to see the Coyotes sit a goaltender fresh off a shutout who had a day to rest.
Before the start of the season, people predicted that the Coyotes would use Kuemper and Raanta as a tandem. With Kuemper playing in 14 games and Raanta in 8 games that has largely been the case, although Kuemper being the 1A is a bit of a surprise.
Kuemper v Raanta
Raanta has been getting more starts as the season progresses. Before October 25th Raanta started in two of the Coyotes’ seven games, but since October 25th he has started in six of the Coyotes’ thirteen games. Raanta started the season with the Tucson Roadrunners on a conditioning assignment which would last one game, so it makes sense that the Coyotes may not have wanted to not risk re-injuring the Finnish netminder.
Kuemper started the season off strong. Going back to last season, he had a streak of 13 straight starts allowing two goals or fewer. This streak came to an end on October 24th in a 4-2 loss against the New York Islanders.
In what should come as no surprise for anyone, neither player has played in any back-to-back games. Of the two sets that the Coyotes have played so far. Kuemper would start on November 4th against the Edmonton Oilers and Raanta would start on the 5th against the Calgary Flames. Raanta would then start on November 11th against the Washington Capitals while Kuemper would get the start on the 12th against the St. Louis Blues.
While Kuemper has started most games, he has yet to go more than three straight games without Raanta getting a start. Those three games came at the beginning of the season, and since then Kuemper has not gone more than two straight games without Raanta starting. Since November 9th the goaltenders have switched every other game.
Raanta has played some tough teams, starting against the Capitals, Flames, Montreal Canadiens, and the Colorado Avalanche, but he also has gotten some of the easier starts. Along with the last game against the Los Angeles Kings, Raanta has also started at bottom of the standings teams like the Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils, and Ottawa Senators. Kuemper has gotten a few easier starts too, including the Wild, the Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers, and the Winnipeg Jets while they were still struggling. It should be noted that neither goaltender got wins against the Wild.
As the season goes on we are seeing Raanta get more starts, and if Monday is any indication he is ready for more starts. And while Kuemper has been getting more attention and media love thanks to his stellar numbers, Raanta has been no slouch either.
Right now, the Coyotes may have the best tandem in the NHL. And if this trend continues they are likely going to get to the playoffs with two well-rested netminders.