Hockey Day Minnesota will come to a close Saturday night when the Minnesota Wild renew their rivalry with the Dallas Stars at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Wild will once again turn to second-year goaltender Darcy Kuemper. It will be his fourth consecutive start, and perhaps his fourth consecutive really impressive outing.
Kuemper's season got off to a disastrous start. He allowed six goals on 16 combined in games against Toronto and Montreal. His struggles earned him a trip to the Wild's Amercian Hockey League affiliate in Des Moines, Iowa.
He returned to the Wild's roster on Jan. 2 to serve as Niklas Backstrom's backup because leading goalie Josh Harding was ill. In four starts since, Kuemper has stopped 111 of 116 shots – good for a .957 saves percentage and a 1.23 goals-against average. Minnesota is 3-1 in those games.
Head coach Mike Yeo told the Star Tribune that's he's trying not to get overly excited with Kuemper's play.
“I’m just trying to stay even-keeled with that. It’s our job to make sure we’re doing everything we can to continue to help him feel confident, but at the same time, we have to make sure he stays grounded and stays focused on why he’s playing well.”
The Wild is 5-2 all-time on Hockey Day Minnesota. The exhibition began in 2007.