The Washington Capitals are set to open their 2022-23 campaign at home against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night and they’ll have a new face in net when they do so.
Darcy Kuemper took the starter’s cage at the morning skate for the first time as a member of the Capitals. The team’s big-dollar offseason addition will lead the Caps out onto the ice for the Home Opener and his 300th career NHL game.
The team in front of Kuemper will mirror the exact same group that took line rushes at Tuesday’s practice. That looks like this via The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir.
“Super excited,” Kuemper said Tuesday. “Being on the other side of it, it’s a really tough rink to come in and play because the crowd is always so loud. Really looking forward to being on the other side of that and having them cheer us on. It’ll be a lot of fun.”
His reign begins. pic.twitter.com/4qs1JieNgs
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 12, 2022
The team that the 32-year-old netminder left to join the Caps in DC is the 2022 Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche will be hosting their own Home Opener on Wednesday and raising their championship banner to the rafters while Kuemper is still on the ice battling for the Caps.
“I’ll probably watch a highlight of it,” Kuemper said. “It is what it is. I won’t be thinking about that tomorrow at all. Not until after the game for sure. I’m super excited for this year. Last year was obviously a ton of fun and a dream come true. Those are a lot of friends over there that will be friends for life but I’m excited for this new chapter, new adventure. Can’t wait to start it tomorrow.”
Kuemper is coming off a 2021-22 season that saw him post a 37-12-4 record with a 2.54 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. Given the Avs’ eventual Stanley Cup victory, his last game that counted for real happened just over three months ago.
“Getting back into the gym I didn’t really have time to get out of shape,” Kuemper said. “It wasn’t like trying to get back into shape. It didn’t feel like I was starting from scratch. I was just already in game shape. Once I got on the ice I felt good right away. I feel good, how I normally would to start a season. I don’t think that will be a concern at all.”
Outside of Kuemper, the Caps will also see debuts from Connor Brown, Dylan Strome, and Erik Gustafsson. Brown in particular will be key as he rides to the right of both Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov on the top line.
The trio had a rather good preseason in the over 25 minutes that they played together at five-on-five. With them on the ice, the Caps saw 57.6-percent of the shot attempts and 58.8-percent of the scoring chances. Kuznetsov will be playing in his 600th career NHL game.
The Bruins will come into town after being ousted in the first round of the playoffs by the Carolina Hurricanes last season. Similar to the Caps, they are dealing with long-term injuries to very key players. Both Brad Marchand (double hip arthroscopy and labral repair) and Charlie McAvoy (shoulder surgery) will start the season on the shelf.
Linus Ullmark will man the crease for Boston per AP’s Stephen Whyno.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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