ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Watching Semyon Varlamov turn away shot after shot at the opposite end of the Xcel Energy Center ice, Darcy Kuemper had to keep himself engaged somehow.
It can be a lonely existence in one's own crease when his team accumulates a 24-shot advantage and keeps the puck in its offensive zone. So rather than chirp at his teammates as he's wont to do during Wild practices, the rookie goaltender picked at another audience Monday night.
"A little bit of self talk, as funny as that sounds," Kuemper said. "It keeps yourself into it mentally. That's how you stay sharp."
It's the opposite of the 23-year-old's team workout habits. Despite his youth, the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native has developed a rap for cracking wise with his older, more experienced comrades.
"He's a little smartass," defenseman Ryan Suter joked.
But it's confidence, not arrogance, that kept Kuemper locked into the biggest game of his life ...