DeSmith Is Holding Down The Fort Exceptionally Well

By: Trent Leith / March 26, 2024  

Since Demko left the game on March 9th against the Winnipeg Jets, DeSmith has played every minute of hockey. And he has done exceptionally well.

Since taking over the starter’s crease, DeSmith has a .896 sv% and a GGA of 2.3 with a record of 3-2-1 in his six games. If you remove his .842 sv% on Monday’s game vs. the LA Kings, DeSmith had a .907 sv% in his first five games as the starter. DeSmith has been strong and has been doing his fair share of work in the Canucks recent success.

“This is the best that I have felt in the National Hockey League throughout my career. This is probably the best I’ve felt about my game, personally.” DeSmith told Sportsnet’s Iain MacIntyre.

DeSmith certainly hasn’t had as stellar a record before this stretch of games. DeSmith was 6-4-5 including a 10-7 shellacking in Minnesota where he had a .680 sv% and 8 goals against.

“Besides [adding] some confidence and some enjoyment of being able to play the game consistently, I would say that, just, it’s fun being ‘the guy’ even if it’s just for a couple of weeks,” DeSmith told the media on Friday. “I would say that [the] rhythm of being the guy for a couple of weeks is unique and it’s an experience that I don’t get very often. So I think just the opportunity to feel a little bit of a rhythm and feel like the guy for a couple of weeks is a nice change.”

Since the calendar turned to 2024, DeSmith was 2-1-3 before his hot stretch filling in for Demko. DeSmith had struggled to put together a stretch of wins as a backup and cited the difficulty of going stretches without getting starts.

“Thatcher has been so good all year and, obviously, I’ve kind of gotten in there when I’ve gotten in there and I’ve had some mixed results. It can be frustrating having a bad game and then not playing for a week and a half, or even having a good game and not playing for a week and a half. It’s just hard to get in a rhythm.”

Despite his struggles as a backup, DeSmith never stopped working to improve. “Clarkie and I put in a lot of work this year on areas where we kind of felt maybe I had deficiencies or could really make vast improvements,” DeSmith told the media, “like post play, [the] efficiency of crease movement, getting to my spots quicker and basically just staying ahead of the game. Those are obviously very broad topics and there’s a lot that goes into it. Just incrementally, little by little, they’ve been improving, and I’m really starting to feel and see the results of that work”

It isn’t just Ian Clarke and DeSmith responsible for the improvement, it’s a team effort. Demko and DeSmith talk and work through things as a team.

“It’s a team effort, the three of us. Obviously, I spend a little bit more time with Clarkie one-on-one working on stuff. But I also pick up little things from Thatch that maybe I never thought of or I see him doing something in a certain way and I ask him his thought process behind it. Just watching, you kind of absorb some stuff through osmosis.”

It has been over two weeks since Demko was initially hurt, and last we heard, Demko was going to be out for about two or three weeks. Based on that, we could see Demko any time, however, Elliotte Friedman said on Friday that he doesn’t expect to see Demko until about a week and a half before the end of the season.

It could be a while before Thatcher Demko is back in the starter’s net, but for now, Casey DeSmith seems to have the goaltending covered. Casey DeSmith is 32 years old and is a pending UFA. His play down the stretch could mean a lot for his next contract.