The Vancouver Canucks goaltending situation can be categorized into three commonly-used categories.
- Good: Thatcher Demko has been one of the best goalies in hockey over his last 12 starts. He has a 7-4-1 record and a .939 save percentage since February 13th. The only goaltender with a better save percentage over that same span is Minnesota Wild rookie netminder Kaapo Kahkonen (9-1-0, .940 SV%)
Because of Demko’s performance, he has slowly crept his way up into the Vezina conversation [Daily Hive]
- Bad: Braden Holtby has been a massive disappointment this season in Vancouver. The two-year deal he signed seemed reasonable back in October, but it looks like yet another terrible contract considering his poor performance in net.
According to Hockey Reference, Holtby has three quality starts in 11 appearances. His .273 quality start percentage is one of the worst marks in the entire league.
You have to feel for Holtby, who seems like a genuine guy stuck playing behind an awful defence. Off the ice, the Canucks recently released a video about Holtby’s mask, created by artist Luke Marston. [Canucks]
- Ugly: This whole situation started blowing up when Kevin Woodley hopped on the VANcast last week and went off on the Canucks handling of Michael DIPietro.
It’s now been more than a full calendar year since Dipietro has played in a professional hockey game. [Daily Hive]
I was surprised going into the season that the Canucks didn’t make a claim on a third-string goalie. I’m also surprised that there wasn’t more pushback at the time.
Prior to the season starting, Calvin Pickard of the Red Wings is one player I highlighted as a veteran third-stringer who the Canucks could claim.https://t.co/aILs6aTQJw— Trevor Beggs (@TrevBeggs) January 11, 2021
The argument for him getting a chance to work with Ian Clark was a succinct one. Utica Comets reporter Cory Hergott mentioned as much prior to the season.
If he’s on the taxi squad and working with Ian Clark every day and getting into NHL practices it wouldn’t be a terrible thing. Good chance they’d be able to spot him into some AHL games a couple of times/month if needed with one of the Canadian based AHL teams. Unique season.— Cory Hergott (@CoryHergott) January 11, 2021
Now at the halfway point of the season, DiPietro has not gone to Utica, nor has he been loaned to another Canadian-based AHL team.
Perhaps that still happens. Perhaps he also plays NHL games if the Canucks fall out of the race.
What we know for sure is that having a highly-touted goalie prospect not play is no bueno.
In other Canucks news...
- The Canucks, are, um, favorites tonight. That shouldn’t be a surprise, but it hasn’t happened often in 2021. [Sportsnet]
- Some notes from the Senators' point of view heading into tonight. Joey Daccord will likely suit up again. [Ottawa Sun]
- Tyler Motte is likely to suit up for the Canucks again tonight, after missing 17 games. [TSN]
- This one is pushing a week old, but it provides some good insights on Jonah Gadjovich’s strong season, along with quotes from Comets’ head coach Trent Cull. [Utica Observer-Dispatch]
- Quinn Hughes comments on finding his defensive game, along with picking his spots offensively. [The Province]
Around the NHL
- The big news this morning is that Buffalo Sabres head coach Ralph Kruger has been fired amidst a 12-game losing streak.
He’s been replaced by Don Granato, who becomes the sixth head coach of the Sabres since they let Lindy Ruff go in 2013. [NHL]
- Elliotte Friedman also touches on the Sabres in his latest 31 Thoughts column. [Sportsnet]
- New York Islanders captain Anders Lee, who is currently tied with Brock Nelson for the team lead in goals, is out for the season with a torn ACL. [NHL]
- The struggling Boston Bruins got a win from Dan Vladar, who started his first regular-season NHL game last night. [ESPN]