Canucks get small Thatcher Demko silver lining ahead of Game 3

Demko will travel to Nashville.

Thatcher Demko in image looking hopeful, Vancouver Canucks logo, hockey rink in background

Despite the Vancouver Canucks labelling star goaltender Thatcher Demko week-to-week — leaving his status for the rest of the team’s Western Conference first-round series against the Nashville Predators up in the air — the club received a positive update on Thursday.

Although Casey DeSmith has already been pencilled in as the Game 3 starter, and figures to play every minute until Demko can return, the 28-year-old is at least on the road with his teammates in Smashville.

“He may be week to week but Thatcher Demko did travel with the [Canucks] to Nashville,” reported Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

It may not mean much, but the fact that the American is travelling is great news for his potential availability later in the series. And if the Canucks make it to Round 2, the likelihood of him returning between the pipes only increases.

Canucks are a much better team with Thatcher Demko healthy

Vancouver Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko (35) reacts as the Canucks celebrate a goal score by forward Elias Lindholm (23) against the Nashville Predators in the second period in game one of the first round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena. Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
The Canucks were unable to hold onto home-ice advantage in Game 2, allowing an early goal and never recovering in a 4-1 loss at Rogers Arena on Tuesday. Although Vancouver managed to win Game 1 — with a healthy Demko — the task gets much more challenging as the series shifts to Tennessee.

Demko has been a rock for the Canucks over the last few years, and that was especially true in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He led the team through the Minnesota Wild and defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues before coming one win short of beating the Vegas Golden Knights and advancing to the Western Conference Final.

The roster would not have made it nearly as far without Demko’s heroics, and the fanbase in British Columbia had high hopes that he could backstop this team to a similar run four seasons later.

But that will no longer be the case, and it’s unlikely that he will be an option for the rest of the first-round at least. Head coach Rick Tocchet said this week that Demko had a new injury that was unrelated to the one that kept him out of the lineup for all of March.

Originally labelled day-to-day, Demko was downgraded to week-to-week quickly after.

“Demko was one of the top goaltenders in the NHL this season. He appeared in 51 games, going 35-14-2 with a .918 save percentage and a 2.45 goals-against average that included five shutouts,” wrote ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski.

“He was first in the NHL in goals saved above expected per game (0.39) and is expected to be a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, given to the NHL’s top goalie each year. He was a key reason the Canucks went from 25th in the NHL in team defense last season to sixth overall this season.”

Demko has been excellent almost every time he’s been between the pipes in 2023-24, and it goes without saying that he’s irreplaceable. He made 22 saves in Vancouver’s 4-2 Game 1 win in his first taste of playoff action in nearly a half-decade.

DeSmith allowed three goals on just 15 shots in Game 2, and he’ll need to be better if the Canucks hope to take back home-ice advantage at Bridgestone Arena on Friday night.

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