Vegas Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer believes Vancouver Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko affected their confidence against the Dallas Stars.
The Vancouver Canucks may have fallen just short of defeating the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round, but goalie Thatcher Demko apparently had an affect on their Western Conference Final series against the Dallas Stars anyway.
On Monday, the Stars defeated the Vegas Golden Knights in overtime of Game 5 to punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final. It’s their first trip to the big dance since 2000.
After the heartbreaking loss, Vegas head coach Pete DeBoer admitted that the heroics of Demko in round two shook the confidence of his team, suggesting that it played a serious factor in the series against Dallas.
“The Vancouver series, against Demko, probably rattled our confidence a little bit in that area (scoring), as a group,” DeBoer said, per Sportsnet.
With Jacob Markstrom injured for the final three games of the series against Vegas, Canucks head coach Travis Green turned to Demko. He was more than up to the challenge, stopping 42 of 43 shots in Game 5 to pace Vancouver to a close 2-1 victory.
Demko continued to stand on his head in Game 6, stopping all 48 shots he faced in Game 6 to help his team escape with a 4-0 win.
The Canucks were completely overwhelmed and outplayed in Game 7, but Demko kept them in the game by stopping 33 shots. It took a Shea Theodore power play goal at the 13:52 mark to finally solve Demko. That held up as the winner, as Vegas tacked on two empty net goals to win the series.
The difference in the Vegas-Dallas series? Goaltending.
Stars backup Anton Khudobin stole the show with a phenomenal .950 save percentage, allowing just eight goals on 161 shots. Robin Lehner was still very good for the Golden Knights, with a .914 save percentage in four games.
But Khudobin was simply better by a wide margin.
The Golden Knights’ high-powered offence averaged 3.15 goals per game in the regular season. They only mustered eight in five games against the stingy Stars.
Demko and his Canuck teammates aren’t the ones celebrating a trip to the Stanley Cup Final together, but they have to take some pride and joy in knowing that they found a way to “rattle” the Golden Knights in the Western Conference Final.