Life moves fast. The Vancouver Canucks won four straight games under new coach Bruce Boudreau. Just over a week ago, the team was struggling and the fans weren’t happy.
One thing that remained constant all season was the play of goaltender Thatcher Demko. He is also the biggest reason after Boudreau why the Canucks have won four in a row.
The San Diego native was drafted by the Canucks in the second round of the 2014 draft and spent the next two seasons at Boston College before he played for the AHL’s Utica Comets. Demko made his NHL debut in 2018 and was eventually Jacob Markstrom’s backup for two seasons. After, three stellar performances in the bubble against the Vegas Golden Knights and sharing the crease with Braden Holtby, Demko has become the Canucks number one netminder.
You don’t need to know rocket science to figure out that Demko has been playing very well all season and is definitely the team’s MVP.
All season, he has been like Spider-Man stopping a runaway subway train. He has been keeping the Canucks in games by consistently making big saves when he is needed the most.
Demko has made some highlight-reel saves all season including the scorpion kick save without a blocker against the New York Rangers.
There was also this robbery with the glove against the Winnipeg Jets.
He has been named the NHL’s first star of the week where he had a 4-0-0 record, a 1.20 goals-against average, and a .962 save percentage.
Let’s take a look at how Demko has been for the Canucks this season.
So far, Demko has a record of 12-11-0. His GAA is 2.66 and has a save percentage of .916. Those numbers aren’t the best in the world but again, if you watched Demko play, his play has been better than his record and numbers say. Those numbers definitely would be better if the Canucks had a better defense and penalty kill in front of him.
The 26-year-old has started in 24 games this season and that is the most among goalies in the NHL. Demko has also faced the most shots against in the league with 762. John Gibson of the Anaheim Ducks is second with 693. The Canucks starter is also first in saves with 699.
Per NaturalStatTrick, Demko is second in goals saves above expected at five-on-five with 10.34. He is second behind Tristan Jarry of the Pittsburgh Penguins whose GSAA is at 10.64. Demko is first in the NHL in high danger shots against at five-on-five with 160, (Again definitely due to the defence.) and his 21 high danger goals against are sixth in the league. Demko is also second in rebound attempts against with 62 which is one behind Gibson.
Those are pretty good numbers.
Should Demko be considered for the All-Star game and US Olympic team?
As seen from the numbers above, Demko has been facing a lot of high danger shots but has been saving most of them.
Should Demko be considered for the All-Star game? Voting for the captains is now open and three Canucks are on it; J.T. Miller, Conor Garland, and Quinn Hughes. These are only the captains and voting will end on January 8 so that means some time after the rest of the All-Stars will be announced and Demko surely would have to be picked. However, the All-Star game only allows two goalies per division and Demko will have competition with Markstrom and Gibson.
Markstrom is having a great season so far with the Calgary Flames. He is sixth in save percentage with .933 among goalies who have played at least 10 games. He is also third in GAA with 1.94 and is first in shutouts with five. Gibson is also having a good season down in Anaheim. Demko has a chance for the All-Star game but he is going to have to continue to do his thing and amp it up to 100 if he wants to Vegas in February.
The NHL’s participation at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing is in limbo due to China’s strict quarantine laws.
“If an athlete tests positive, you cannot leave China until cleared by local health authorities. Maximum quarantine could be 3-5 weeks,” said Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek on Saturday night’s Hockey Night in Canada broadcast. “If an athlete does test positive and is symptomatic, to get out of quarantine, they need to be symptom-free and pass two COVID tests within 24 hours. If asymptomatic, they can be allowed out of quarantine with two negative tests at 24 hours apart.”
However, if the NHL does decide to go, Demko is making a name for himself for the US Olympic team. Gibson and Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets are likely to be on the team and Demko could possibly be on as well.
“The Olympic team has got to be looking at him,” said Boudreau on Demko after the win over the Carolina Hurricanes per Sportsnet 650’s Brendan Batchelor. “They’d be silly not to. ”
John Vanbiesbrouck from USA Hockey talked about Demko and the Olympics.
Hellebuyck has been on a bit of a slide this season and there is a chance for Demko to be the backup or even the starter for the US. However, the quarantine rules might make the players change their decision on Olympic participation.