Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette announced during his pregame media session on Thursday that goaltender Darcy Kuemper will be the Caps’ starter against the Ottawa Senators.
Kuemper has not started a game since being injured in a December 3 matchup with the Calgary Flames. He has missed eight games since then. Charlie Lindgren, the Caps’ starter for those eight games, will serve as Kuemper’s backup in Ottawa.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) December 22, 2022
“I’m looking to see him pick up where he left off,” Laviolette said Thursday. “He was playing really well. It was unfortunate timing what happened. He’s been really good for us all year. I’m sure he’s excited to get back in there.”
Kuemper will have a lot to live up to after Lindgren starred in his absence. In those eight starts, Lindgren went 7-1 with a 2.00 goals-against average, a .930 save percentage, and was awarded the NHL’s first star of the week for the week ending on December 11.
“He was on fire in there,” Kuemper said of his netminding partner on Wednesday. “I think the team really rallied around that. I was super happy for him, happy for our group. We need the points. It was nice to see the guys go on a roll.”
The Capitals have a back-to-back with travel that starts against the Senators and ends against the Winnipeg Jets in DC on Friday. Kuemper will get the first half of those games against a Sens team that he has gone 5-2 against in his career with a 2.68 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage.
“I’m excited to be back on the ice,” Kuemper added. “It’s never fun watching. A little bit easier when the team was playing so well and having so much success. You don’t feel guilty you’re not out there helping. Good to be healthy again, feeling good, and ready to play.
“You just have to get back out there and playing again,” he continued. “It’s kind of like riding a bike. Trust the process, not overthink it, and just go and play. Make sure you’re doing what makes you successful.”
In 20 starts this season for the Caps, Kuemper is 8-9-2 with a 2.56 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage. He has saved 3.9 goals above expected this season according to MoneyPuck.
Laviolette also announced that center Nic Dowd will dress after missing Wednesday’s practice with a non-COVID illness. Defenseman Alex Alexeyev is also no longer listed on the team’s injured reserve, meaning he is eligible to play in Ottawa.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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