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Canucks star goalie Thatcher Demko unavailable for Game 2: Coach

Rick Tocchet says Demko is ‘day-to-day’ and will be evaluated later Tuesday
Nashville Predators’ Jeremy Lauzon, front left, collides with Vancouver Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko (35) as Phillip Di Giuseppe (34) and Teddy Blueger (53) defend during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series, in Vancouver, on Sunday, April 21, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The Vancouver Canucks will be without goalie Thatcher Demko when they face the Nashville Predators in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series Tuesday.

Coach Rick Tocchet said the 28-year-old netminder is going to be evaluated later Tuesday and is “day to day.”

“He skated yesterday. He’s not going to play tonight,” Tocchet said. “It wasn’t the old injury and that’s all I really got for you guys.”

Demko played all of Game 1 for the Canucks on Sunday, backstopping the team to a 4-2 victory. Tocchet said he wasn’t sure whether the injury happened during the game.

“It might have been in the game, but I’m not quite sure because he skated yesterday,” he said. “I don’t know the exact timeline. That’s why I don’t want to speculate whether it’s this time or whatever.”

Demko missed 14 games after suffering a knee injury on March 9, but returned for Vancouver’s two final games of the regular season. He finished with a 35-14-2 record, a .918 save percentage and five shutouts.

Demko showed his work ethic as he rehabilitated and got back into the lineup ahead of the playoffs, said Canucks forward J.T. Miller.

“He works harder than anybody on a day-to-day basis when he’s not injured, let alone when he’s trying to get back in for stuff like this. So you feel for the guy,” he said.

“He’s a big part of our team, but we’ve got to find a way to be resilient as a group and move forward. We’re not the only team going through this type of stuff. So it’s gonna happen. We need to find a way to be resilient, like I said.”

Casey DeSmith will take over the Canucks’ net for Game 2.

The 32-year-old goalie had a 12-9-6 record with a 2.89 goals-against average and .895 save percentage for Vancouver this season.

He went 4-5-1 while Demko was out with the knee injury. Arturs Silovs — who will be DeSmith’s backup on Tuesday — also played four games, going 3-0-1.

DeSmith is a well-liked goalie with a great demeanor, Tocchet said.

“I’m very confident (in DeSmith),” the coach said. “Any time you get in the playoffs, there’s stories and he’s looking to be a contributor to his team,” he said. “And we expect, the way he’s played all year for us, really solid hockey. We’re not looking for him to be spectacular. We’re looking for him to be Casey.”

DeSmith has made one playoff appearance in his NHL career.

Playing for the Penguins, he stopped 48 of the 51 shots he faced in Pittsburgh’s 4-3 overtime win against the New York Rangers in Game 1 of a first-round series on May 3, 2022. DeSmith was injured in the second overtime and had to be replaced by Louis Domingue.

The Penguins announced the following day that DeSmith would undergo core surgery.

The Canucks know how they need to play in front of DeSmith on Tuesday, Miller said.

“If we play the way we’re supposed to play, it should be an easier night for Casey, in the sense of giving up big chances,” he said.

“When that happens, I know (the goalie’s) life’s a hell of a lot easier. So, like I said, worry about us. There’s things we can’t control and that’s obviously one of them as a player. So we need to be able to just focus on the game. Normal game for us.”

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