Keeler: Is Darcy Kuemper Avalanche’s next Teddy Bridgewater? Or the next Peyton Manning?

COVID just opened up a 2-0 series lead on the Avs. It’s early. Better to rust in October than melt in May.

“So when I look at Darcy Kuemper, I watched him a lot when he was in Minnesota, when he was a backup,” former NHL goaltender and Turner Sports analyst Darren Pang told The Post when asked about the Avs’ new No. 1 netminder before Colorado’s season-opener against Chicago late Wednesday.

“And I wondered why he wasn’t more than a backup. And I kind of came to the conclusion that he doesn’t have that makeup to be a backup. He’s not one of those energetic, high-octane, flashy guys that could come in from being on the bench for two weeks and play.”

Pang bent one hand forward, like a shadow swan, and flattened his palm, making the gesture your uncle made whenever he decided he’d had it up to here with the broken furnace.

“He’s very flat-line, a very even-keeled person and athlete,” Pang continued. ”So the more he plays, the more he gets into his element.”

The road to the Stanley Cup goes through the 6-foot-5 Kuemper’s massive shoulder blades, then veers north via a series of switchbacks between the man’s ears. Aside from Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, no athlete in town has more eyeballs — or more of their fan base’s fascination/curiosity/worry — than No. 35 does right now.

If Dove Valley is still seeking the quarterback that makes no deficit unassailable, Chopper Circle is still chasing a netminder that puts leads, and momentum, in concrete.

The goalie who shuts doors and crushes souls. Especially during a postseason series.

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“There’s no guaranteeing that an athlete is going to just blend right in there and be able to handle (that pressure),” Pang said. “I do believe the expectations (here) are very high. He seems to have the even-keeled-ness to be able to maintain in this type of environment.”

On one hand, Team Canada digs him, and Team Canada doesn’t mess around. When ESPN last April polled anonymous players, coaches, and executives to name the top 10 goalies in the game, our man Darcy, acquired in a trade with the Coyotes over the summer, checked in at No. 9.

“His name comes up in trade rumors because he’s incredibly valuable (to the Coyotes),” one executive told the Worldwide Leader. “Which is why he’s still there.”

And now he’s here, in a town where seasons, and rosters, are judged by parades. Or the lack thereof.

No. 35 is taller and rangier than predecessor Philipp Grubauer. But he’s also never carried much of the water as the undisputed, healthy No. 1 netminder on a team that declared It’s-Lord Stanley-Or-Bust the day before the puck dropped on the regular season.

Kuemper shared the load in Minnesota, where he never made more than 28 starts. With the Kings, same deal. Arizona never finished higher than fourth in the division during Kuemper’s tenure in the desert.

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Source:: The Denver Post – Sports

      

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