The 32-year-old missed seven in a row with an upper-body injury after taking an elbow to the head from right-wing Tyler Toffoli in the second period of Washington’s 5-2 loss to the Calgary Flames on December 3.
“I’m excited to be back out on the ice,” Kuemper said. “Little bit easier when the team was playing so well and having so much success…you don’t feel like guilty that you’re not out there helping, but good to be healthy again, feeling good, and ready to play.”
According to head coach Peter Laviolette, Kuemper could start against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday (7 PM ET; NBC Washington, NHL Network) or against the Winnipeg Jets at Capital One Arena on Friday (7 PM ET; NBC Sports Washington).
Kuemper said Charlie Lindgren “was on fire” as the Capitals’ recent starting netminder. “I think the team really rallied around that…super happy for him, happy for our group. We needed the points, so it was nice to see the guys get on a roll,” he added.
What “builds the confidence,” according to Kuemper, is getting “a few wins in a row,” which leads to “getting that winning feeling back.” He said, “Expecting to win if you do things the right way—that’s huge for a group and we just gotta keep building off that.”
He spent time with goaltending coach Scott Murray to get his “timing” and “rhythm” back. “You just got to get out there and start playing again. It’s kind of like riding a bike—just got to trust the process, not overthink it, go and play. Make sure you’re doing what makes you successful.”
“You just got to get out there and start playing again. It’s kind of like riding a bike – just got to trust the process, not overthink it, go and play. Make sure you’re doing what makes you successful.”
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) December 21, 2022
By Della Young