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As I listened to Bruce Boudreau say that he no longer has the words to describe the fabulous play of his goaltender Thatcher Demko over the weekend, I was forced to ask myself, does the rest of the league know about Demko yet?
I mean really know.
I think Demko’s performance in the bubble playoffs will be memorable for many, that summer, all of hockey was tuned in to those playoffs. But do people know what he’s done since? Or is the bubble performance equitable to, say, Andrew Hammond’s remarkable run as Senator. Fun, memorable, but out of sight and out of mind now.
The truth of the matter is, I don’t know that many do know. Because Boudreau himself even said he had no idea what to expect out of Demko when he arrived. All he kept saying early on is “the goalie is good.” Not even the name Demko, just “the goalie.”
As we know, still a tall task for the Canucks to make the playoffs here, but a nice consolation prize would be an award nod for a Canucks player. Could Demko be recognized with a Vezina nomination?
Just Demko doing Demko things. pic.twitter.com/uyYG3HQqWK
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) February 28, 2022
The best news there is, Demko is only doing himself favours with his play. And a nomination is… possible. But much like those playoff aspirations, seems a high hurdle.
The problem isn’t so much Demko’s lack of performance. It’s the simultaneous performances of other goalies elsewhere. While it feels like the bottom half of goaltending is worse than usual, and teams like Seattle and Edmonton, and maybe even Toronto struggle to find anyone who can stop a puck. It’s a bumper crop at the top.
Let’s look at the stats, and remember, any GM voting for the Vezina is highly unlikely to be doing deep dives in places like Clear Sight Analytics for better data that may support Demko. So it’s the more traditional counting stats that most likely get scanned, if any. Among No. 1 goalies, Demko is ninth in save percentage, 11th in goals-against average, and ninth in wins. So even on a heater, lots of work still there.
Context helps, because Demko has faced the third-most shots. But even among the most pelted goalies, his save percentage is still seventh or eighth.
Needless to say, kind of disappointing. The context that’s needed is quality of shot faced, that would more adequately show what Demko has done for this team, but alas, I don’t think the other GM’s will ever see it. And of course, playing at 10 pm Eastern Time doesn’t help either.
So, enjoy it Canucks fans. For another season at least, I think Thatcher Demko might be Vancouver’s “secret” weapon.