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Thursday Daily Puck: The Roller Coaster Of Glove

Dustin Nelson

Dustin Nelson

Dustin Nelson is a writer based out of NYC. His fantasy team is full of loafers.

Around the Rink:
As we pass the season's half-way mark there's always a bit of reflection on the stories so that have dominated the news cycles so far. Ovi's torrid scoring pace. Josh Harding's emergence. The Pens battling through some serious injuries. The Olympic selection process. The Olympics snubs. Steven Stamkos broken leg and the Olympics.

In fantasy one of the year's top stories has to be the goaltending roller coaster that 90% of us are riding. It's been the year of the back-up goaltender. It's been the year of the back-up's back-up. Even Josh Harding's emergence is the story of a back-up tender grabbing a starting position. Some of these emergences have been due to great performances. (See: Harding, Philipp Grubauer) Some have had their moment in the sun because of injury. (See: Martin Jones, Antti Raanta) Yet other goaltending carousels have occurred because, well, it's not entirely clear why the projected starter isn't getting any minutes, but it's happening. (See: Cory Schneider and his 2.13 GAA)

This causes no small headache for owners who thought Braden Holtby or Niklas Backstrom would be their starter the season. But this tender madness offers many opportunities to fix the problems on your roster if you can be quick on the waivers. Here's a glimpse through some of the madness this season to help you see how fragile your goaltending situation is, how it can pay off to watch the injury report, and how you may be able to benefit at the trade deadline. I'll offer a few recommended pickups at the end of the column as well. Also, see Tuesday's Daily Puck where Andrew discussed goaltenders and the trade deadline.

Eddie Lack is starting again in Vancouver, where Roberto Luongo has gone down with a short-term injury, again. The un-merry-go-round in Minnesota continues to spin as Josh Harding is out "not feeling well" on IR and Niklas Backstrom is nursing an injury. (That situation has been crazy this year, see the Star Tribune's Mike Russo break down the up and down process that has been the goalie nightmare in Minnesota this season.) So, 23-year old Darcy Kuemper is taking the reins for the time being (and looks likely to start again tonight in Phoenix). His first two outings this season went pretty poorly, but he showed promise as he let in just one goal on 40 shots against the Kings on Tuesday.

Corey Crawford and Jonathan Quick are back in net after prolonged injuries. That means that Martin Jones and Antti Raanta both of whom began the season third on the depth chart are no longer the hottest pickups on the waiver wire. In fact, Jones is back in the AHL and Ben Scrivens remains, as ever, the back-up in LA. Brian Elliott may have stolen back the job in St. Louis from Jaroslav Halak. Elliott has played seven of the last eight games, largely with Halak out due to illness, and Elliott won all of them in impressive fashion.

Ben Bishop is down, considered day-to-day. Pekka Rinne continues to be out, much the chagrin of David Poile who has been unable to find a quality replacement in Carter Hutton or Marek Mazanec, both of whom have been ok in short stretches. Earlier this week Evgeni Nabokov went on IR, leaving Kevin Poulin to take the reins for the surging Islanders. The Ducks and Hurricanes were surprised to discover they both have three goalies when all three are healthy. Cam Ward is on IR, Anton Khudobin was out most of this year, and Justin Peters proved he should be given a shot as a number one at some point. Al Montoya has started five of the last seven for the Jets and coach Claude Noel has little faith in de facto starter Ondrej Pavelec with his 3.06 goals against and .906 save percentage on the season.

On that note the Penguins (Tomas Vokoun out indefinitely), Wild, Oilers, Predators, Flames, and Islanders, among others, may be in the market for second or third goaltender by the March 5 trade deadline. How that plays out is anyone's guess. The popular choice to write about is Ryan Miller, but with Tim Murray potentially coming in as GM for a new regime in Buffalo, a reportedly high asking price, and limited cap space around the league, it's no guarantee that they'll want to or be able to move him. As mentioned the Ducks, Hurricanes, Capitals, Bruins (who gave their AHL goalie, Niklas Svedberg, a shot for the hell of it this week), and Kings appear to have three goalies and any of those teams could move one.

That's a little more drama than we usually get out of goaltenders in an entire season. That even leaves out Antti Niemi's sturggles and Alex Stalock getting a surprise start this week. Jimmy Howard, who was out for a while, briefly looking inferior to back-up Jonas Gustavsson, who is now on IR. The Blackhawks lost Nikolai Khabibulin and picked up Jason Labarbera, who is now down in the AHL. It goes on...

It's volatile and full of potential out there.


Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid

Florida Panthers (Tim Thomas) at Buffalo Sabres (Ryan Miller), 7:00 PM
Dallas Stars (Kari Lehtonen) at New Jersey Devils (Cory Schneider), 7:00 PM
Toronto Maple Leafs (Jonathan Bernier) at Carolina Hurricanes (Anton Khudobin), 7:00 PM
Washington Capitals (Braden Holtby) at Tampa Bay Lightning (Anders Lindback), 7:30 PM
Anaheim Ducks (Jonas Hiller) at Nashville Predators (Carter Hutton), 8:00 PM
St. Louis Blues (Jaroslav Halak) at Calgary Flames (Karri Ramo), 9:00 PM
Minnesota Wild (Darcy Kuemper) at Phoenix Coyotes (Mike Smith), 9:00 PM
Boston Bruins (Tuukka Rask) at Los Angeles Kings (Jonathan Quick), 10:30 PM
Detroit Red Wings (Jimmy Howard) at San Jose Sharks (Antti Niemi), 10:30 PM

Injury News For Teams Playing Thursday

Florida Panthers
Jesse Winchester, LW - Winchester (hand) is expected to miss three-to-four weeks, Harvey Fialkov of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. (12/18/2013)
Dylan Olsen, D - Olsen was placed on injured reserve by the Panthers on Friday with an upper-body injury retroactive to Dec. 31. (1/3/2014)
Alex Petrovic, D - Petrovic (upper body) will not make the upcoming road trip with the Panthers, which means he'll miss at least three games. (1/5/2014)

Buffalo Sabres
J.T. Compher, C - After suffering a broken foot from blocking a shot, Compher will not travel with Team USA to Sweden for the 2014 World Junior Championships, reports Mike Morreale of NHL.com. (12/18/2013)
Kevin Porter, C - Porter (leg) is expected to miss at least another week. (12/29/2013)
Tyler Myers, D - Myers was issued a three-game suspension for his hit to the head on Devils' forward Dainius Zubrus, TSN's Bob McKenzie reports. (1/6/2014)
Cody Hodgson, C - Hodgson (finger) practiced Wednesday in a red non-contact jersey, Bill Hoppe of the Times Herald reports. (1/8/2014)
Ville Leino, C - Leino (lower body) practiced Wednesday in a red non-contact jersey, Bill Hoppe of the Times Herald reports. (1/8/2014)
Henrik Tallinder, D - Tallinder was named to Team Sweden for the Sochi Olympics on Tuesday morning. (1/7/2014)
Mike Zigomanis, C - Zigomanis was sent to the AHL Toronto Marlies on Sunday. (9/25/2011)
Cody McCormick, C - McCormick, who suffered an injury against Calgary, has a broken finger, reports WGR 550 SportsRadio. (12/21/2013)
Drew Stafford, RW - Stafford, who suffered an upper-body injury in Thursday's loss to Minnesota, did not practice Friday and appears to have no chance to suit up Saturday against the Devils, The Buffalo News reports. (1/3/2014)
Patrick Kaleta, RW - Kaleta suffered a torn right ACL during Friday's game with AHL Rochester, Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News reports. He will miss the rest of the season. (11/30/2013)

Dallas Stars
Aaron Rome, D - Rome left Saturday's game in the second period because of an upper-body injury and did not return, reports the Associated Press. It was just his fifth game back after missing time due to a lower-body injury. (1/4/2014)
Stephane Robidas, D - Robidas underwent surgery Saturday to repair a broken fibia and will be out for the next four to six months, TSN's Darren Dreger reports. (11/30/2013)

New Jersey Devils
Peter Harrold, D - Harrold (foot) has resumed skating, Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record reports. (1/8/2014)
Jacob Josefson, C - Josefson is expected to miss a few days with a virus, Tom Gulitti of The Record reports. (1/8/2014)
Adam Larsson, D - Larsson (lower body) could return to the lineup soon, Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger reports. (1/8/2014)
Damien Brunner, C - Brunner (knee) is showing signs of improvement, but he has not resumed skating, Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger reports. (1/7/2014)
Patrik Elias, LW - Elias (upper body) has not yet resumed skating, Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record reports. (1/8/2014)

Toronto Maple Leafs
Carl Gunnarsson , D - Gunnarsson (elbow) practiced with the team Wednesday, David Alter of Sportsnet 590 reports. (1/8/2014)
Trevor Smith, LW - Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said after Tuesday's game against Florida that Smith suffered a broken hand, David Alter of Sportsnet 590 The Fan reports. (12/17/2013)
Dave Bolland, C - Bolland (ankle) continues to rehabilitate his surgically-repaired Achilles tendon and probably won't be back in a Leafs jersey until after the Olympic break, reports the Toronto Sun. (12/31/2013)
David Clarkson, RW - Clarkson (foot) will practice with the team Wednesday, David Alter of Sportsnet 590 reports. (1/8/2014)

Carolina Hurricanes
Jay Harrison, D - Harrison (concussion) will be a game-time decision Sunday against the Predators. (1/5/2014)
Jiri Tlusty, LW - Tlusty underwent an emergency appendectomy Tuesday and will miss the next 2-to-3 weeks, Michael Smith of the Hurricanes' website reports. (12/27/2013)
Riley Nash, C - Nash (lower-body) was placed on injured reserve Sunday, according to Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer. (1/5/2014)
Joni Pitkanen, D - Pitkanen (heel) was placed on long-term injured reserve Tuesday, the Raleigh News & Observer reports. (10/1/2013)
Cam Ward, G - Ward (lower body) may skate Thursday morning, Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News and Observer reports. (1/8/2014)
Eric Staal, C - Staal (lower body) is expected to miss a couple more games, Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News and Observer reports. (1/8/2014)

Washington Capitals
Michael Latta, C - Latta (lower body) was placed on long-term injured reserve Wednesday. (1/1/2014)
Evgeny Kuznetsov, C - Kuznetsov suffered a leg injury while playing for Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL last week, Russian Machine Never Breaks reports. (12/30/2013)
Jack Hillen, D - Hillen (leg) was placed on long-term injured reserve by the Capitals on Monday, the Washington Post's Katie Carrera reports. (10/8/2013)
Tomas Kundratek, D - Kundratek has suffered a torn ACL, which will end his season, Katie Carrera of the Washington Post reports. (11/12/2013)

Tampa Bay Lightning
Keith Aulie, D - Aulie (hand) is expected to miss at least three more weeks of action, Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune reports. (12/28/2013)
Mattias Ohlund, D - Ohlund (knee) was placed on long-term injured reserve Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Times reports. (10/2/2013)
Brian Lee, D - Lee (knee) is still only doing off-ice workouts. (11/9/2013)
Ben Bishop, G - Bishop (hand) is not expected to play Thursday, Erik Erlendesson of the Tampa Tribune reports. (1/8/2014)
Steven Stamkos, C - Stamkos (leg) was named to the Canadian Olympic team. (1/7/2014)
J.T. Brown, LW - Brown (shoulder) is considered questionable for Tuesday's matchup against the Jets, the Tampa Bay Times reports. (1/6/2014)

Anaheim Ducks
Sheldon Souray, D - Souray (wrist) skated before Thursday's practice, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports. (11/21/2013)
Bryan Allen, D - Allen (lower body) was moved to injured reserve Tuesday. (1/7/2014)
Dustin Penner, LW - Penner (upper body) took part in Wednesday's practice, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports. (1/8/2014)
Luca Sbisa, D - Sbisa will miss the next six-to-eight weeks after suffering a torn tendon in his right hand in Friday's game, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports. (11/23/2013)
Viktor Fasth, G - Coach Bruce Boudreau said Friday that Fasth (lower body) would remain off the ice for about a week, Curtis Zupke of NHL.com reports. (12/27/2013)
Stefan Noesen, C - Noesen is out for the season with a torn ACL and MCL. (10/14/2013)

Nashville Predators
Pekka Rinne, G - Rinne (hip) will remain under limited activity for the next two weeks. (12/20/2013)
Patric Hornqvist, RW - Hornqvist departed in the third period of Tuesday's win over the Sharks with a lower-body injury, The Tennessean reports. (1/8/2014)

St. Louis Blues
Alexander Steen, C - Steen (concussion) was skating on his own Saturday, NHL.com's Lou Korac reports. (1/4/2014)
T.J. Oshie, RW - Oshie is dealing with a knee injury and is being labeled as day-to-day, Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. (1/8/2014)
Roman Polak, D - Polak (ankle) is nearing a return after skating Monday, Dan O'Neill of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. (1/7/2014)

Calgary Flames
David Jones, RW - Jones (eye) will not play Tuesday against the Coyotes, Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun reports. (1/7/2014)
Patrick Sieloff, D - Sieloff is at home in Ann Arbor, Mich., recovering from a staph infection, the Calgary Herald reports. (11/22/2013)
Blair Jones, C - Jones has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus and will be out indefinitely, Pat Steinberg of Sportsnet 960 reports. (12/23/2013)
Kris Russell, D - Russell (knee) skated on his own Saturday and Sunday, Aaron Vickers of NHL.com reports. (1/5/2014)
Curtis Glencross, LW - Glencross has been diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain and will miss eight weeks, Pat Steinberg of Sportsnet 960 The Fan reports. (12/23/2013)

Minnesota Wild
Mikko Koivu, C - Koivu has undergone ankle surgery and is expected to miss four weeks of action, according to Wild beat writer Chad Graff. (1/6/2014)
Zach Parise, LW - Parise (foot) could begin skating late this week, reports the Star Tribune's Michael Russo. (1/7/2014)
Josh Harding, G - Harding (illness) was placed on injured reserve by the Wild on Monday. (1/6/2014)
Niklas Backstrom, G - Backstrom (abdominal soreness) will not start Tuesday against the Kings, Chad Graff of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. (1/7/2014)
Marco Scandella, D - Scandella (general soreness) missed practice Wednesday, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. (1/8/2014)
Brett Bulmer, LW - Bulmer suffered a knee injury while playing Monday for AHL Iowa, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. "It could be significant," GM Chuck Fletcher said. "I don't want to speculate until we see what the MRI says, but it looks like it could be bad news. That would be terrible news for the kid." (1/8/2014)
Jared Spurgeon, D - Spurgeon (lower body) was placed on injured reserve Saturday. (1/4/2014)

Phoenix Coyotes
Zbynek Michalek, D - Michalek (lower body) is out for Saturday's game against the Flyers. (1/4/2014)

Boston Bruins
Marc Savard, C - The Bruins are expected to place Savard (concussion) on Long-Term Injured Reserve, Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe reports. (7/6/2013)
Dennis Seidenberg, D - Seidenberg tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee and will be out for the remainder of the season, Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globereports. (12/28/2013)
Shawn Thornton, LW - Thornton (suspension), who will miss Thursday's game in Los Angeles, is eligible to return to action Saturday in San Jose, the Boston Herald reports. (1/8/2014)
Loui Eriksson, RW - Eriksson (concussion) was in a full-contact jersey during Wednesday's practice, Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe reports. (1/8/2014)
Chris Kelly, C - Kelly (leg) remains on track in his recovery from a broken right fibula. (1/2/2014)
Jordan Caron, RW - Caron (back) will not play Tuesday against the Ducks. (1/7/2014)

Detroit Red Wings
Jonathan Ericsson, D - Ericsson (ribs) has resumed skating, MLive.com's Ansar Khan reports. (1/8/2014)
Stephen Weiss, C - Weiss has chosen to undergo surgery for a sports hernia and will be out until late-February, MLive.com's Ansar Khan reports. (12/21/2013)
Pavel Datsyuk, C - Datsyuk (groin) will not play Thursday against the Sharks and coach Mike Babcock said he will not be available anytime soon, Ansar Khan of MLive.com reports. (1/8/2014)
Johan Franzen, C - Franzen (concussion) was a participant in Wednesday's practice, but coach Mike Babcock wasn't particularly bullish on him returning from IR anytime soon, MLive.com's Ansar Khan reports. (1/8/2014)
Darren Helm, C - Helm (groin) will be a game-time decision Thursday against the Sharks, Ansar Khan of MLive.com reports. (1/8/2014)
Jonas Gustavsson, G - Gustavsson isn't expected to return from IR during the remaining four games of the Red Wings' road trip, MLive.com's Ansar Khan reports. (1/7/2014)

San Jose Sharks
Tommy Wingels, RW - The Sharks expect Wingels (leg) to return this week, David Pollak of the Mercury News reports. (1/8/2014)
Tomas Hertl, C - A former NHL trainer familiar with Hertl's type of knee injury told CSN Bay Area that a best-case scenario for Hertl's return would be approximately 12 weeks, but he'll likely miss 6-9 months. (1/1/2014)
Adam Burish, RW - Burish will undergo back surgery in the coming days and is out indefinitely, CSN Bay Area's Kevin Kurz reports. (10/16/2013)
Martin Havlat, RW - Havlat (lower body) has been placed on IR, according to Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area. (12/31/2013)
Raffi Torres, LW - Torres, who has been sidelined since a preseason collision with Anaheim's Emerson Etem, is still undergoing rehab from right ACL surgery. He has been skating regularly and feels he's currently able to perform around "60 percent," according to CSN Bay Area. (12/29/2013)
Logan Couture, C - Couture (hand) has been placed on injured reserve. (1/8/2014)
Tyler Kennedy, LW - The Sharks expect Kennedy (illness) to return this week, David Pollak of the Mercury News reports. (1/8/2014)

Hot
John Tavares, C & Thomas Vanek, LW, NYI There was certainly some hemming and hawing over the Islanders move to acquire Thomas Vanek early in the season and it took him a little while to settle in, but wow. Tavares and Vanek on a line (along with Kyle Okposo, who is no slouch) is producing an incredible burst of offense right now. Over the last two games they have a collective 11 points. Tavares is on a seven-game point streak with seven goals and nine assists. Vanek is on a 10-game point streak with five goals and 10 assists. That top line (Vanek, Tavares, and Okposo) have combined for 19 goals and 27 assists over the last 10 games. Little wonder the Isles are 7-3 over that stretch.

Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, STL The Blues are on fire right now, as are many of its players. Notable among these is Tarasenko. He's been streaky in his short career, but showed incredible promise opening his rookie campaign with five goals and five assists in eight games. He cooled down significantly after that burst, registering just three goals and six assists in the following 30 games. This year, he again opened the season hot and has since had a few stretches where he struggled to find offense, but those days are behind him. Tarasenko has a four-game point streak right now and has registered three goals and seven assists with a plus-7 rating over the last seven games. He'll continue to have streaky play this year he's only 22 and playing in his first full 82-game season after all but Tarasenko looks poised to have a solid 2013-14 campaign with 14 goals and 12 assists tallied at the half-way mark of the season.

Joe Thornton, C, SJS While his most recent game wasn't a shining example of a hot player (no points, minus-2, one shot, two PIM), it doesn't erase the fact that Thornton is so hot right now that he's starting to look like a dark horse for the Hart Trophy. If the Sharks can get through some serious injury problems on forward (currently out: Logan Couture, Martin Havlat, Tomas Hertl, Adam Burish, Raffi Torres, Tommy Wingels, Tyler Kennedy) it'll be in no small part due to the play of Thornton. Prior to this past game he was riding an eight-game point streak with 12 assists over that stretch. He has 16 assists over the last 13 games. He leads the league in assists with 43 through 44 games. That's enough to erase the fact that five goals this year looks kind of meager. Though his 48 points is still good for fifth in the league. Also notable is that despite the vaunted depth of the Sharks forward-core Coach Todd McLellan has opted to make the top line a serious force, adding Joe Pavelski to Thornton's season-long pairing with Brent Burns. With all of the injuries that means that teams can focus their shut-down D on San Jose's top line, but it's hard to imagine too many teams being able to completely shut down a trio like that.

Cold
Braden Holtby, G & Michal Neuvirth, G WSH The U.S.'s most recent unemployment figures estimate that around 7% of workers in America are without work. It's not clear to me if Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth are among those ranks, but they certainly appear to be without work. There's a goaltending problem in our nation's capital. For the moment it appears that Philipp Grubauer has stolen the starting position. Neuvirth isn't being given the chance to win his spot back and Holtby, who was the projected starter for the team, is doing nothing to reclaim his throne. Neuvirth hasn't started a game since November 22 and it doesn't look like he's going to be putting on pads during a game anytime soon, as he's been wearing a suit for most Caps games. Holtby has only had four starts since December 10 when he was pulled after letting in three goals on eight shots. In the other three starts, he let in five goals each game. That includes an embarrassing loss to Minnesota in which the Caps outshot the Wild 30-11, but lost the game 5-3. His save percentages in those four games are, starting with December 10, .625, .857, .865, and .545. Those numbers offer some hope for Neuvirth owners, since they can't play Holtby in relief of Grubauer if he's going to play like that, but, for some reason, coach Adam Oates seems averse to giving the net to Neuvirth. One of these three could get traded which would make that player interesting again but until then there isn't any reason to expect a turnaround for Holtby or Neuvirth.

Tyler Toffoli, C, LAK After coming in late last season and scoring five points in ten games before the playoffs, then grabbing two goals and four assists amid some very strong play in the playoffs, it seemed a lock that Toffoli would be on the Kings' opening night roster. He wasn't. Toffoli spent the start of the season in the AHL and didn't make an appearance with the Kings until November 2, at which point he went on a tear. He started his season with a five-game point streak, grabbing three goals and five assists. It hasn't been as pretty of a picture since mid-December. He's currently logged seven games without a point. In fact, he has just a goal and an assist over the last 12 games, both of which came in a single night against the Sharks. Rookies tend to score in fits and starts and I wouldn't discount that Toffoli could find himself in a hot streak again, he certainly has the talent, but I'm not playing him if I can avoid it right now.

Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, FLA For a team that started the season as one of the league's worst, the Panthers are trending in the right direction. (Please note, commenters, I'm not saying that they're good, but they are 7-4-1 over their last 11 games.) That sudden burst of offense is not, surprisingly, due to their Calder Trophy-winning forward. Huberdeau has been MIA since the Panthers started to pull it together. Over his last 11 games (he missed two games in December during the team's five-game winning streak) he has registered only three assists, which includes a multi-point game. His sophomore effort is turning into a sophomore slump as he appears unable to catch his scoring pace from last season in which he tallied 14 goals and 17 assists in 48 games. Through his first 41 appearances this season, he's got just seven goals and 10 assists. Huberdeau is supremely talented, so I'm not dropping him in most formats, but in any weekly games, I'm not touching him.

Recommended Pickup
Eddie Lack, G, VAN & Philipp Grubauer, G, WSH & Darcy Kuemper, G, MIN & Anders Lindback, G, TBL Ok. A little something practical to come out of the madness at the open of this column. Four goalies who are widely available. I've got them in the listed in the order I'd take them if I need to fill a roster spot short-term. Lack and Grubauer are close. Lack is a stopgap for Vancouver until Roberto Luongo is fully healthy again, which shouldn't be too long. I believe Lack to be more talented, though his last few starts have been rough. The benefit with Grubauer is that he's not a stopgap. He looks like he's secured the starting spot at least for the time being from Braden Holtby (see above). Kuemper is a little bit more of a flier at the number three spot. With Lindback you are getting a genuine back-up. When Ben Bishop returns for Tampa Bay, Lindback will still be in the NHL and will still play this season. Should Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom both get healthy Darcy Kuemper is going back to the Iowa Wild of the AHL. Nonetheless, I'm taking Kuemper over Lindback. Kuemper is an unknown quantity in some regards. He's had strong and very weak performances this season, but he might be ready now. He looked incredible in his 39 save win over LA on Tuesday, in which he also stopped all four shootout attempts against him. With Lindback, you know what you're getting. He's not great, but he's a NHL goaltender. He's going to play. He has less potential to bottom out, but I think the potential upside is much higher with Kuemper, especially in Minnesota's defense first system. (Though allowing 40 shots to the Kings wasn't exactly a shining example of a defense first system.)

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