Why has Thatcher Demko played so much down the stretch for the Canucks?

Why has Thatcher Demko played so much down the stretch for the Canucks?

Goalie Thatcher Demko returned to the Vancouver lineup on Feb. 27 after missing 35 games due to injury. At that point, the Canucks seemed destined for a spot amongst the NHL’s basement dwellers, where they would have a good shot at landing a very high draft pick.

However, since Demko’s return, the team has posted a 14-6-2 record. It was too little, too late for the club, who ended up nowhere near the playoff race, all while surging enough in the standings to have the odds no longer be in their favour heading into the NHL Draft Lottery. The current odds of Vancouver winning the top pick in the lottery are pegged at 3.5 per cent.

Kevin Woodley of InGoal Magazine joined Canucks Central’s Satiar Shah and Dan Riccio Wednesday afternoon to break down Demko’s play and highlight why the wins have been piling up for the team recently for multiple reasons beyond just the solid play of the netminder.

“I think the environment here has improved significantly on the defensive end. And it’s the combination of that and Thatcher Demko,” said Woodley. “So obviously, he brings a level of confidence to the group in front of him that they were lacking. But the way they’re playing also contributes to the numbers he’s achieving.”

Woodley prasied the structure of the Canucks and notes the importance of trusting the guy in the crease, especially when new systems are being implemented.

“What it means to the team, what it means to be confident in the guy behind you,” he said.

“And to trust that … (new head coach Rick) Tocchet talked about this when you’re making these changes, and you’re trying to get buy-in from a group about the importance of playing a certain way; it helps when there’s somebody there to pick up the odd mistake. It was tough at the beginning because they felt like they were playing better and not getting the results because when they did make a mistake, it felt for a while there like most of those mistakes ended up in the back of the net, and that’s a tough way to build confidence.”

The decision to start Demko so often in the latter stages of the season has generated angst within the fan base, with some wondering why the Canucks didn’t bolster their chances for a better draft pick by playing their star netminder less.

Woodley did not refute that keeping Demko out or playing him less would ensure that the Canucks win less. However, he opted to take a long-range holistic approach from Demko’s perspective. The goalie wanted to prove he could return to a high level, a level we’ve seen often during the 27-year-old’s NHL career.  

“People said, don’t bring him back at all,” Woodley said.

“I’m like, no, no, no, you cannot go into the summer not knowing if your body still works at this level. And then the next step I said at the time was, he’s going to want to know if he can play at the workload they expect him to play; he expects of himself that number one goalie workload, and 60 games is probably that sweet spot.”

“I think the reality of where they are and what they can afford to spend on backup says it’s probably going to be 60 plus, so I understand why he would have felt it was important.”

Backup Colin Delia is expected to get the start for the Vancouver Canucks final game of the season, which takes place Thursday night in Arizona.

Kevin Woodley is a weekly Wednesday guest on Canucks Central, airing weekdays from 4-6 pm PT on Sportsnet650.

.acf-block-preview .br-related-links-wrapper
display: grid;
grid-template-columns: repeat(2, 1fr);
gap: 20px;

.acf-block-preview .br-related-links-wrapper a
pointer-events: none;
cursor: default;
text-decoration: none;
color: black;

PDFs With Activities, About My New Book, Public Libraries, And More! Previous post PDFs With Activities, About My New Book, Public Libraries, And More!
Calling All Pub Sub Fans—Here Are the Best Under- Publix Finds Next post Calling All Pub Sub Fans—Here Are the Best Under-$10 Publix Finds