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Canucks' Demko 'better off' after overcoming groin injury

Debora Robinson / National Hockey League / Getty

Thatcher Demko saw his 2022-23 campaign derailed by a groin injury that almost required surgery, but the Vancouver Canucks goaltender believes he came out of the experience an improved player.

"It was really my first time being severely hurt like that," he said during a recent interview on the "Frankly Speaking" podcast. "I'd never really been hurt in the middle of a season and had so much time off rehabbing and then had to come back and try to find my game. It was a new experience for me, but it was one that I think builds your character.

"I'm definitely better off for it now, just mentally. If you can kinda come back through that, I think you can get back through anything. ... I feel really good."

Prior to sustaining the ailment on Dec. 1, Demko was struggling to stay afloat despite coming off a successful 2021-22 campaign when he finished seventh in Vezina Trophy voting. He began to look more like himself upon his return almost three months later on Feb. 27.

Date range GP SV% GAA GSAX
Oct. 12 - Dec. 1 15 (3-10-2) .883 3.93 -11.35
Feb. 27 - April 11 17 (11-4-2) .918 2.52 9.86

Demko said he "loved" where his game was at by the end of the season and was aiming to build on that progress in the summer.

The Canucks will need him in tiptop shape to have any hope of accomplishing Demko's goal for the 2023-24 campaign: making the playoffs.

"We've come short of that the last few years. That's something that I know eats at the group. ... It's pretty obvious that it's time to step up," he said. "We know what the pressure is around the team and we know what the expectation is. I don't think anyone's backing down from that."

The Canucks haven't made the playoffs since the bubble in 2020 when they fell to the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round. Vancouver finished a distant 12 points outside of the postseason picture in 2022-23.

Demko, 27, owns a career .910 save percentage and 2.90 goals-against average in 168 appearances, all with the Canucks.

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