The Vancouver Canucks have a busy month of February ahead of them, featuring three back-to-back games within the month, meaning young netminder Thatcher Demko should pick up a few starts.
We’ve discussed it all before. Anders Nilsson gets lit up in New Jersey and refuses to face the media after the game. The Vancouver Canucks‘ fan base began calling for a trade, including The Canuck Way’s very own Alex Hoegler, who called the trade more than a day before it happened.
Nilsson gets sent off to Ottawa and Canuck nation is put on Thatcher Demko watch, patiently awaiting the arrival of one of the franchise’s most touted prospects. Demko did not disappoint in his NHL debut a season ago against the Columbus Blue Jackets, a game that saw the Vancouver Canucks come out victorious by a score of 5-4.
This season got off to a rather rocky start for Demko, however. After suffering a concussion in the preseason, there were rumours that Demko and his camp were not happy with the Canucks medical staff for clearing him to fly- a flight that would stall Demko’s recovery.
Once healthy, Demko went to work with the Utica Comets, picking up right where he picked off last season. Through 16 games with the Comets this season, Demko boasted a record of 8-5, along with a save percentage of .911- good enough to receive a call-up from the Canucks on the fourth of January.
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Demko didn’t receive the Jan. 13 start against the Florida Panthers that many fans wanted to see him play in. Facing off against the Canucks franchise leader in wins Roberto Luongo was a matchup many fans wanted to see- myself included.
Instead, Demko made his season debut on January 18th against the Buffalo Sabres. Demko played well in the game, making 36 saves on 39 shots, making some highlight reel saves in the process.
Since that game, however, Demko has not received a start. This is mostly due to the fact that the Canucks had long stretches in between games, the longest they’ve seen all season, in fact.
But with a packed month of February ahead, a month that will see the Canucks play 13 games, Demko should see more than a few starts. The Canucks also have three back-to-back games to play in the month, the first being tonight against the Washington Capitals.
As per the Canucks Twitter, Demko tweaked something in warmup, and Michael DiPietro has joined the team to serve as the emergency backup tonight. Demko probably would have gotten the start tonight, but will now have to wait before seeing the crease. The injury is reportedly nothing serious so we should wee Demko pick up at least two additional starts at the very least within the busy month.
A native of San Diego, Demko will surely see a few family and friends in the crowd when the Canucks embark on their California road trip, where they will do battle with all three teams hailing from The Golden State.
The game I think Demko is most likely to start on that trip is on Valentine’s Day when the Canucks face the Los Angeles Kings. A day before that, the Canucks will do battle with former Canuck Ryan Kesler and the Anaheim Ducks. Thus, a tired Jacob Markstrom could open the door for Demko to get the call versus the Kings. Since the drive up from San Diego to the Staples Center is roughly a two-hour drive, Demko will surely see fans in the crowd if he is given the start.
Aside from the California road trip, Demko will likely start about two to four additional games this month, depending on whether or not Jacob Markstrom can remain hot and continue his increased level of play that we saw leading up to the All-Star break.
Us fans will likely get a much better look at Demko during this month, as the young goaltender looks to keep his perfect winning record intact. We’ll see how soon Demko makes his return. The fact that the team called up an emergency goaltender rather than make a roster move, tells me it’s nothing serious for Demko.