Back in July, the Washington Capitals went out and got the prized goaltending free agent of the summer in Darcy Kuemper. On Friday night in Detroit, Kuemper donned a Caps sweater for the first time during some live game action for his new team.
Albeit just being an exhibition matchup, Kuemper was perfect in his 31 minutes of action. The 32-year-old netminder made nine stops on all nine shots he faced and helped pitch a combined shutout of the Red Wings with his backup for the season, Charlie Lindgren.
“It was just nice to get some game action again,” Kuemper said postgame. “First real action with this group in front of me and I loved the structure we played with today. We played tight. It wasn’t a ton of work but it was nice to get back out there for sure.”
The Caps would get the 2-0 win via Kuemper and Lindgren’s work as well as goals from John Carlson and Lars Eller.
we are looking respectfully pic.twitter.com/DH513mez7X
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) September 30, 2022
Goaltenders sometimes have a preference for how much or how little action they want to see in the preseason to prepare themselves for the regular season. The Capitals’ new number one backstop says he’s leaving that up to head coach Peter Laviolette and his staff.
“Whatever the coaches tell me,” Kuemper said laughing. “Whatever they got on the schedule, that’s good with me.”
So far in the preseason Charlie Lindgren and Zach Fucale have led the way in net for the Caps. That’s something that Laviolette says will change as the team is now in the back half of their exhibition schedule.
“Guys will start working back in, the other half (of the veterans) will be in tomorrow night,” Laviolette said. “When we get to games five and six it’ll be a little heavy-handed more with the lineup. Get both goaltenders going tonight. They were good, they weren’t busy but when we needed them to make some saves they did.”
The Capitals’ first actual game of the season comes at home on October 12 against the Boston Bruins. Kuemper will almost certainly lead the team out for that matchup and he’s happy with how the defense in front of him is looking.
“It was only a period and a half but I feel like we were all on the same page and the communication was great,” Kuemper said. “The guys were really talking back there which makes playing pucks a lot easier. The biggest thing has probably been practice but seeing it (the team) on TV and seeing the structure helps as well. Gives you a mental image of what to expect when you finally get in there.”
The Caps have one more road preseason game in Columbus on Saturday night and then return to Capital One Arena to wrap things up with rematches against both the Wings and Blue Jackets at home.
Screenshot via @Capitals/Twitter
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