The plan that Kings coach John Stevens has for divvying up the goaltending duty has become slightly murky, though the latest results are crystal clear.
Stevens recently said that he has numbers in mind for how he wants to share the starts between goalies Jonathan Quick and Darcy Kuemper, and he wouldn’t divulge that information. He defused talk of altering that plan after Kuemper ran his shutout streak to 170 minutes 30 seconds with his second straight shutout Saturday night.
“We don’t have a script,” Stevens said. “The funny thing about a goalie is there’s only two of them. So when one guy plays and one guy doesn’t play, then it seems to be amplified, because it’s like a quarterback, right? ‘Well, how come he’s playing?’
“There’s positions on your team and I think our goalies have both played well for most of the year. Darcy’s seeing the puck right now. The puck’s hitting him. He’s probably played as good as he’s ever played, and he’s really come in and played sound for us. With a couple days in between [games], you don’t often get that. But there’s no question we’re going to need both our goalies to win hockey games as we move along here.”
It’s a good problem for the Kings that Kuemper is making it an interesting choice in net. Signed to a one-year contract worth $650,000 last summer, Kuemper is 8-1-4 and with points earned in 12 of his 13 decisions. He has allowed one goal in his past three starts.
Kuemper shut out the Dallas Stars on Tuesday but that didn’t earn him a start in the next game. Quick got the nod for the Nashville Predators — a team he has historically done poorly against — and wasn’t given much help in a 5-0 loss.
Kuemper has received considerably more assistance. The Kings shut down the Stars with a superb checking game, and didn’t give the Arizona Coyotes much to work with either in a 6-0 win that featured six goal-scorers in Alex Iafallo, Anze Kopitar, Adrian Kempe, Trevor Lewis, Jake Muzzin and Dustin Brown.
It was Kuemper’s third shutout of the season and 10th of his career.
“It’s been fun,” Kuemper said. “I’m just appreciating the way guys are playing in front of me, making it easy for me to just go and play. I always think that a shutout is a full team effort. No one can do it all by themselves. I’ve had a ton of help the last couple of games.”
Kuemper didn’t shed any tears when an Arizona goal was called back on offsides early in the third period, after Stevens said the Kings’ video crew, led by coordinator Samson Lee, alerted him to challenge the goal.
“I had no idea,” Kuemper said. “I caught a little break there. The linesman came up and apologized and said, ‘No, it’s not your fault. The game happens fast.’ ”