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Kevin Woodley talks about what he’s seen from Thatcher Demko ahead of his return: Canucks Conversation

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Clarke Corsan
1 month ago
On today’s episode of Canucks Conversation, Irfaan Gaffar and Harman Dayal were joined by NHL insider Kevin Woodley for an update on Thatcher Demko’s injury timeline.
The Canucks’ hopes to lock down first in the Pacific Division could hinge on the anticipated return of Demko. His return to practice has been met with enthusiasm, and Kevin provided a detailed assessment of Demko’s progress and potential impact.
Woodley, observing Demko’s reintegration into practice, has been encouraged by the goalie’s intensity and physical ability: “The first thing I’ve looked for this week, and is there in spades, is pace and precision of movement. He’s flying out there. There are zero limitations to what he’s doing physically. You tend to run through progressions; goalie coach works through movement patterns, butterfly, controlled shooting early on, post integrations, then you get into dynamic play where guys can go wherever they want; things that put a goaltender under duress in terms of not knowing where the puck is coming from, knowing where his next push is, make him go side to side in short order and I saw all that by the time they got through practice yesterday.”
While practice intensity is promising, Woodley acknowledged the unique challenge of returning to NHL game action: “The one thing that still has to happen is: you gotta get out there when the bullets are flying for real and find that little tiny black puck through 10 bodies, half of whom are trying to keep it hidden from you, and that’s not easy. There’s a certain reliance on rhythm and timing that you can only get from playing games.”
Woodley believes Demko is targeting a return on Tuesday, noting that only a short tune-up may be needed: “He thinks two games is going to be enough, the target was always Tuesday, and I have my hunches they stick with it. Put it this way: take a look at the preseason – obviously, the intensity has ramped up by this time of year, so it’s not quite the same, but most starting goalies only play two, two and a half games in the preseason. There was no better goalie in the NHL for the first six weeks of the regular season than Thatcher Demko, and that’s what you’re hoping for. The reality is, he’s done this before and knows what it’s like to come back mid-season, work through those progressions, and pop into the game.”
The Canucks’ current goaltending tandem of Arturs Silovs and Casey DeSmith hasn’t offered the same calibre of play, prompting Woodley’s analysis: “Statistically, both of them are a little underwater. But this is a tough team to play behind right now, cause they’re not giving up much in terms of quantity, but they’re still giving up big moments when the mistakes happen like every team does. There’s those quality moments. One of the hardest things for a goaltender to do is sit there for lengthy periods of time, watch the other goalie play well at the other end, then have a grade-A scoring chance against you. It’s really not easy to be a goalie behind a team that’s only giving up 21, 22 (shots) a night, and it kills your stats because 3 on 22 is a lot different than 3 on 30. Are there some games they win with Thatcher Demko in net? You could easily make that argument. There are things that he does at such a high level, I don’t think it’s fair to make that comparison because that’s just the level Demko lives at. Silovs at times has been a little aggressive and chasing but he reels it in. Casey (DeSmith) is clearly fighting the confidence right now, I’m curious to see which way they go Saturday in Edmonton assuming it’s not Demko.”
You can watch the full replay of today’s show in the video below:

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