Coyotes Face Goaltending Dilemma

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 05: Goaltender Antti Raanta #32 of the Arizona Coyotes during the NHL game against the Minnesota Wild at Gila River Arena on March 05, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. The Wild defeated the Coyotes 5-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Going into the season one of the many questions facing the Arizona Coyotes was the health of their goaltending. While dynamic as a pair, both Antti Raanta and Darcey Keumper have struggled throughout their tenures with staying healthy between the pipes.

This year alone, Raanta has been down on three separate occassions due to injury and now Kuemper is out with an extended injury after missing 3 games earlier in the season. It’s deja vu all over again.

Monday night Kuemper was forced to depart the game in the third period against the Colorado Avalanche. According to the team he has been listed as week to week with a lower body injury. This is now back to back seasons where Keumper has gone down and will miss a significant amount of time. Last season he was injured on December 19th and was not able to get back into the action until February.

When healthy, the goaltending duo of Kuemper and Raanta are among the best in the NHL. Even though Raanta has been down with injuries multiple times already this season, when playing he has more often that not been lights out for the club which makes the injury issues even more the frustrating. Kuemper himself is sporting a 2.41 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in 18 games.

The problem here is expecting to ride out Kuemper’s injury on the back of Raanta for an extended load is an impossible task. The Coyotes are going to have to lean on Adin Hill who in his limited time of action has been terrific so it’s puzzling he has not had more time to be on the ice with the injuries to date.

One could say Head Coach Rick Tocchet has put too much on Kuemper given his history by starting in all but 8 games so far for the Coyotes and that’s fair given that Hill has sat idly by for the most part between the Coyotes and Roadrunners. Unfortunately that notion may lose some steam when you look at the goalie starts overall for the league with those ahead of him however very few have strong backups like Raanta and Hill behind them.

For this run to work and for the Coyotes to have any sense of a shot at the 4th and final playoff spot in the West, Tocchet will need to put more trust into Hill going forward. Even though Raanta is slated to get the “lion’s share” of the load according to Tocchet that mindset may need some flexibility considering the difficult path just the rest of March takes. For Hill to not get both Anaheim Ducks starts and at least one of the back to back Colorado and San Jose games to close out the month would be a head scratcher.

Time will tell how this will all play out but it may lead to even more interesting questions and thoughts as we get closer to the offseason with Raanta and Hill on expiring contracts.

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