Welcome Matt: Best news for Canucks in March is the real Demko has returned
Thatcher Demko’s return to form has been just about the best development for the Vancouver Canucks in the second half of this wretched season.
Sure, sure, Elias Pettersson et al are scoring and padding their stats, becoming greater offensive forces than ever before, but defence has been this club’s undoing for years, and earlier this season, Demko was part of the problem.
Not anymore. He’s back to being the top-10 NHL tendy we remember since returning from injury on February 27. Even after allowing six goals in St. Louis Tuesday, he heads into the final game of March sporting a 2.47 goals against average and .913 save percentage. He’s 8-3-1 upon his return.
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The other good news — besides a team playing a more defensively-responsible brand of hockey under new coach Rick Tocchet — is that the backups have done their part, too.
Colin Delia, who struggled under ex-coach Bruce Boudreau, has five wins and four strong starts since Tocchet assumed the reigns in January.
Then there’s Arturs Silovs, the 22-year-old rookie, who has won three of five starts and put an early foot forward to be the backup next season.
The Canucks still have the worst save percentage in the NHL at .880 because the damage was done earlier in the season when Demko wasn’t on form and when Spencer Martin was stinking out joint after joint.
But barring an utter collapse in the final eight games of the season, they won’t suffer the indignity of setting the all-time worst mark (.869) held by the 1995-96 San Jose Sharks. And if the strong goaltending keeps up, they’ll sleep easier this summer knowing that problem is mostly solved.