So, I gave Kuemper a nickname after we talked to him tonight, because seriously, the kid was just beaming. Same thing as two seasons ago when he was here, he just beamed after his first pro win. And now his first pro shutout.
Obviously there's some adrenaline and happy feelings after such a great game, but we've talked to quite a few players after really great games and none have ever come close to being as radiant as Kuemper is.
I personally just felt happier and more positive and nicer having been in his presence. Not only do I enjoy the heck out of his game on the ice, he couldn't be lovelier and more genuine off the ice.
But as you guys who have been around a while know, it's been a while since I've been inspired to draw. I'll write until the cows come home but bust out the stick figures? Yeah, that's special sauce.
My apologies, Darcy, if this gets you grief in the locker room, but know that they're just jealous. I don't think anybody on the current team has ever inspired a stick figure. It's a rare and precious gift.
Happy Darcy said:
"It's been nice. I kinda got lucky. Hack got called up here, so I've been getting an opportunity to play a lot. I'm starting to feel really comfortable out there and just taking advantage of the opportunity."
How different is the playing style here vs. the ECHL?
"The difference is how crisp it is, and structured. Everything happens so much faster, because everyone's in the right position. And that first game was a bit of an eye-opener for me, but since then I've calmed down, relaxed, and gotten used to the pace. Every game I feel more comfortable out there."
Do you put more pressure on yourself to keep the score low knowing the roster is thin?
"No you can't think about that. You can't worry about what you can't control. What you can control is what you bring to the table every day. You've got to be at your best regardless of who's in the lineup and give your team the best chance to win. And you know, if it's 1-0 or 5-4, a win's a win and we'll take them all."
Are you tired? This is a lot of games.
"In junior I played 60+ the last two years, so I'm pretty used to going a lot. It's nothing out of the ordinary for me."
As far as how much more is going to be on Kuemper's shoulders, the Wild play in Arizona Saturday night and Hackett will either back up or play. Sunday is a day off for them, but I'd be surprised if they sent him back to Houston yet.
I think that will depend on what Harding hears from the team doctors, as he returned back to St. Paul on his own yesterday or today. They expect him to practice Monday but with Kuemps doing fine here, they can afford to keep Hackett up as insurance for the two ailing Wild goalies.