March 13, 2023, 8:51 p.m.
VANCOUVER — During Thatcher Temko’s three-month sabbatical, it’s not just a time to heal, it’s also a time to reflect.
It’s a chance to assess why the Vancouver Canucks goalie messed up early in the National Hockey League season and how he can make a full recovery after tearing his groin on Dec. 1. For full format. He was once again an elite goalkeeper last season.
Five games into his return, four wins and a .928 save percentage, the 27-year-old looks whole again in every way.
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Thatcher Demko looks like Thatcher Demko, and that’s great news for the Canucks as they take stock of what they’ll do next season before this season ends.
“I know coming back is a good opportunity for a fresh start,” Demko said Monday after the Canucks practiced for Tuesday night’s home game against the Dallas Stars. “I spent a lot of time rebuilding myself and trying to get my game back, making sure to use these last few games to prepare for next season. I know where it could be.”
Seems to be. Demko’s four hits since he returned from the worst injury of his career two weeks ago are more than he racked up in the first two months of the season as he battled to a 3-10-2 start and batting average. .883 save.
After undergoing an undisclosed medical procedure late last season, which Temko characterized as common for goaltenders, the San Diegan returned to the Canucks in early August, postponing their honeymoon to spend additional prep time at Vancouver with goalkeeping coach Ian Clark. .
He made it clear in September that he doesn’t seem well prepared for a season and expects more from himself after last year’s improvement, telling Sportsnet: “It’s definitely a step. But I definitely thought there were stretches he could have been on.” better I expect a lot more from me this year.
As an organization, the Canucks expect more from themselves. As the team and its star goalkeeper established themselves last fall, the weight of their expectations began to weigh on them.
“It’s easy to guess, do you know what I mean?” Temko said Monday when asked about the reason for his slow start. “You can make up whatever you want and attribute it to him. For me, I’ve been working a lot all my life and sometimes it’s been too easy for me. I definitely felt like I was putting more pressure on myself as things got worse, and the tension was building a bit.
“I definitely think I’m better this season, I’ve learned a lot, a lot, to be honest. I feel like a new person in the last five months.”
Did you put too much pressure on yourself?
“Yes, maybe,” he said. “I think… it’s a little past the point of enjoying it, you know? I felt commercial going into this season. Like I said, I’ve learned a lot from it and the lessons I’ve learned, I’m definitely excited for the future.”
Demko’s injury could be another starting point for Goalie, as the team has been sidelined out of the playoff race in recent weeks under coach Bruce Boudreau.
He went 33-22-7 with a .915 save percentage last season and was one of the top five goaltenders in the league by several advanced metrics. Temko finished seventh in the general managers’ voting for the Vezina Trophy.
“The first two days, ‘OMG, it sucks,'” Demko said of his injury. “It’s just the nature of the season. But when you think about and interact with the people around you who care about you. . . They help guide you. The realization that I had a lot of time to reflect and that I had a lot of time to work on my physiology, my biology, the mental side of things, everything, changed me very quickly. It’s only been five games, but I definitely want to build on the beginning that I came back from.
Rick Tocchett will keep playing no matter how hard Coach Rick Tocchet plays his best players to frustrate the tankists in Gunk Nation. The team is coming off a three-game road trip to Arizona and California, with seven games in 18 days.
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This schedule has given Tochette plenty of time for systems work and the Canucks, 31Street When he replaced Boudreau, defensively in the NHL, he will become a very solid and reliable team. In the last two games, against the Ottawa Senators and Anaheim Ducks, Demko faced just 42 shots.
“It’s definitely encouraging to see the change,” he said. “Obviously we are still trying to improve as a team every day. But the energy in the room and the desire to improve every day has definitely taken us a step further. That’s something every good team does.”
Another reason Demko is eager to stay with the Canucks is despite having played in just four NHL playoff games in nearly seven years with the organization.
“I’m a very loyal guy, I’m definitely a guy who wants to be part of the solution instead of chasing when it’s hard,” he said. “I grew up with a lot of people in this organization. I’ve been here a long time. I’m not one to run away when the going gets tough. I think the pieces are there (to win). There is no better feeling in the world than being part of a team that brought a championship to this city, I don’t think so, saying that I was part of that makes me very excited.