Thatcher Demko shines in otherwise disappointing season and other hockey news
By Brandon Yip, Senior Columnist
NHL referee, Tim Peel, has been banned by the NHL from refereeing future NHL games after being recorded on a hot mic saying he was planning to call a penalty against the Nashville Predators.
The Vancouver Canucks are now into the final stretch of the shortened NHL season. With seven weeks left, the Canucks are in fifth place in the North Division when this article was submitted. As of March 25, the Canucks’ record in March is eight wins and five losses.
The Canucks returned from a successful four-game Eastern road trip obtaining seven out of eight points. They have played much better, albeit without star player Elias Pettersson who is out with an upper body injury. The Canucks lost to the Montreal Canadiens on March 20 in a shootout by a score of 5 to 4. Canucks’ goalie, Thatcher Demko, was given a well-deserved night off with Braden Holtby playing goal. Unfortunately, Holtby has struggled this season giving up four goals on 40 Montreal shots. Canadiens’ goals scored by Nick Suzuki, Tomas Tatar, and Joel Edmundson were the result of Holtby being screened and unable to see the puck.
After the game, Holtby admitted he was screened on some of the Habs’ goals but was not trying to make excuses, telling the media after the game: “It sounds like an excuse and isn’t, but obviously it’s one of the things that’s tough to replicate [fighting through screens]. But at the same time, I’ve played a long time, so I should be able to be ready for those no matter what.” As well, Holtby gave praise to the strong performance of Thatcher Demko. “Thatch has obviously been playing as good a hockey as I’ve seen a goalie play,” Holtby said. “We need to win games right now and he’s given our team as good a chance every night to win a game as you can get. We play this game to win. As a team, you just try to do your part whenever you’re asked. You want to give a performance where you give your team the best chance to win a game, and I felt I could have put a better effort in.”
Holtby’s last victory was February 17 in Calgary. Of the few positives this season, Thatcher Demko has been one of the team’s biggest ones. He has been outstanding; in 25 games played, he has 12 wins and 12 losses with one overtime loss. His goals against average is 2.77, and his save percentage is a decent .917. Whereas Holtby has played fewer games (12 games), his record is four wins and six losses with two overtime losses, his goals against average is 3.57, and his save percentage is .894.
The Canucks lost to the Winnipeg Jets on March 22 by a score of 4 to 0. Canuck captain, Bo Horvat, left the game after taking an Alex Edler slapshot off his foot. Horvat was later listed as day-to-day but was healthy enough to play in the second game against the Jets on March 24. Unfortunately, the Canucks would lose again by a score of 5 to 1. Other Canuck injuries include Micheal Ferland (concussion), Justin Bailey (upper body injury), Jay Beagle (undisclosed injury), Tanner Pearson (lower body injury), and Brandon Sutter (undisclosed injury). As well, the Canucks acquired two players off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs: Jimmy Vesey and Travis Boyd.
After a six-day break, the Canucks close out the month of March at home against the Calgary Flames. This is followed by the start of a marathon seven game road trip which begins this weekend with the Canucks in Edmonton on April 3 and Winnipeg on April 4.
Other NHL news
NHL referee, Tim Peel, has been banned by the NHL from refereeing future NHL games after being recorded on a hot mic saying he was planning to call a penalty against the Nashville Predators on March 23 playing against the Detroit Red Wings. Peel was heard saying, “It wasn’t much, but I wanted to get a [expletive] penalty against Nashville early in the.” The audio was then cut off. Peel had called a tripping penalty on Predators’ forward, Viktor Arvidsson at 4:56 of period number two. According to ESPN, Peel (53), was set to retire after this season. Since October 1999, he has been an NHL on-ice official refereeing 1,334 games entering this season. NHL senior executive vice-president of hockey operations, Colin Campbell, issued the following statement that was released by the NHL on March 24: “Nothing is more important than ensuring the integrity of our game. Tim Peel’s conduct is in direct contradiction to the adherence to that cornerstone principle that we demand of our officials and that our fans, players, coaches, and all those associated with our game expect and deserve.”
Some sad news in the hockey world, former NHL defenceman, Bob Plager, was killed in a car accident in St. Louis on March 24 at 78. He began his NHL career spending three seasons with the New York Rangers before joining the St. Louis Blues where he played 11 seasons. In 644 regular season NHL games, Plager scored 20 goals and had 126 assists with 802 penalty minutes. In 74 playoff games, he scored two goals and had 17 assists with 195 penalty minutes. In 2017, his No. 5 jersey was retired by the Blues. NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman, issued the following statement: “Few men in the history of our game were more closely connected to a city and a franchise than Bob Plager was to St. Louis and the Blues. In the lineup for the Blues’ inaugural game on Oct 11, 1967 he assisted on the first goal in franchise history and committed the Blues’ first penalty that night—thus commencing a 54-year association with the organization.”