Vancouver Canucks, Collin Delia

Canucks Goaltending A Core Problem Among Many

While the Seattle Kraken were signing 32-year-old former Stanley Cup winner Martin Jones to a one-year deal for $2-million, the Vancouver Canucks were hoping they had their back-up goalie situation settled with Spencer Martin, whom they were paying two/fifths of that amount.

Yes, the Spencer Martin who was so impressive in his six, count them, six games with the Vancouver Canucks the previous season. That would be six of the nine the 27-year-old had played at the NHL level.

To assume that it was OK because number-one Thatcher Demko would stay healthy and be an invincible stalwart between the pipes does indeed “make an ass out of u and me‘. Or themselves.

Anyone who’s been around the game for decades, even a handful of years for that matter, knows that nothing can be taken for granted with the most important position on the ice.

“That’s a big ask,” Kevin Woodley of InGoal Magazine and said of Martin. “He was a great story coming in as a back-up and a ‘1B’ and earning that after five years between NHL starts, but asking that guy to play once every 10 days and asking that guy to play ten straight are two totally different things.”

Obviously there are other major issues with the hockey club, a team’s season begins and ends on the goal line. The big save was unavailable in a 7-4 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday with starter Collin Delia getting yanked after giving up four goals on thirteen shots and then Martin giving up three more on fourteen.

All while a shaky David Rittich managed to make 34 saves for the Jets at the other end.

Compounded Problems

Meanwhile, Demko struggled substantially before going down with an injury on December 1st. He’s expected to remain out for another two to three weeks.

He was the main reason the Canucks kept their playoff hopes alive for long stretches last season. He was other-worldly at times. One cannot expect a similar performance from the Delia/Martin combo, playing behind a squad that defensively has only gotten worse this season.

“They’re worse defensively this season than they were last season, markedly so,” Woodley points out. “Last time I checked a couple of days ago, against the rush in particular, which is where the best chances come offensively, they (the Canucks) were 31st in the NHL on rush defense. They went from being a bottom third team in the NHL defensively last season, to being for large chunks of this season, a bottom three team.”

Not a magic formula with no experience in net.

Delia tossed out an impressive short sampling; crazy good save percentages in three of his first four appearances, way above expected. Again, short sample sizes are just that: short. Sunday he was exposed.

“If Collin Delia were able to do what he’d done in a small sample of three to four games for an entire season, we’d be talking about the Vezina Trophy (NHL’s best goalie award) winner,” Woodley stated. “So where’s the reality check here? Can you expect that to continue?”

Barring an earlier suggestion of “The Hamburglar – Part Two” becoming a reality … no. Absolutely not.

No Canucks Playoffs

At least with the knowledge that the team won’t be making the playoffs for the third straight season and the seventh time in the last eight years, the Canucks brass can solidify their upcoming plans as they gather the organizational braintrust for meetings.

They’ll decide who will still be here in two weeks, at the NHL trade deadline on March 3rd, and beyond.

If a Canucks playoff berth next season is of sincere interest and a realistic goal, among other things, one might suggest locking down some other plans between the pipes well in advance.

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.