McKenna Match of the Day: January 11 Darcy Kuemper vs. Carter Hart

Former NHL goaltender Mike McKenna gives his Daily face-to-face Start of the goalkeeper match of the day for Tuesday. January 11, 2023:

Why I love this game:

Kuemper excelled in his first season with the Capitals. And Hart continues to punch above his weight behind a weak — but growing — team in Philadelphia.

To monitor :

Hart is the better skater of the two. But Kuemper probably has the edge when it comes to reading the play. And both stole a handful of games.

During the first game of the 2022-23 NHL season, Kuemper couldn’t buy any wins. Yet he behaved admirably. Washington was missing key pieces from the formation and finding his way offensively.

Kuemper really set it up around American Thanksgiving. He hasn’t lost in regulation time since Nov. 19. Part of his success comes from the Capitals playing better all-around hockey. But it also took some time for Kuemper to adjust to his new environment, much like last season with the Colorado Avalanche.

It’s always hard to gauge a goaltender’s performance behind a win-starved team, but Hart was a beacon of hope in Philadelphia. His .908 save percentage is well below his actual performance: ranks the Flyers goaltender ninth in goals saved above average.

Hart will have nights where he allows four goals while playing crazy. It’s not always easy to stay focused and positive in this environment, but I think Hart has learned to deal with it. At just 24 years old, Hart has already played 175 NHL games.

If you could merge Kuemper’s size and reads with Hart’s technical prowess and positioning, the result could be the perfect goalkeeper.

What fantasy owners should do:

I wouldn’t start Hart tonight with Washington freezing near a full formation. Kuemper is on a roll. I would play with him.

Conclusion for Darcy Kuemper:

Don’t underestimate the Flyers. Philadelphia has won five of its last six games.

Conclusion for Carter Hart:

Beating Washington is always a priority for Philadelphia. Make it happen.

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