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Photo Credit: Bryan W. Peck / Utica Comets

News and Notes: Demko, Prospects, Bertuzzi, and Fan Experience

The Canucks are riding high, fresh off of back-to-back-to-back wins against Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Detroit and are now set to embark on a four-game road trip. Here are some off-day notes.

On Thatcher Demko…

With Jakob Markstrom back in Sweden on a granted leave of absence from the team, rookie Thatcher Demko is getting an opportunity to show the Canucks what he’s got. Markstrom has had an excellent start to the season, posting a .926 save percentage in his first four starts.

In an interview with Iain MacIntyre that he doesn’t feel pressure in this situation as he’s avoided the mindset of being a backup goalie. 

“As I’m kind of going through this I’ve seen how much it can help just to stay sharp mentally through the practices and just have that game-like mindset every day. Especially in these situations, it’s easy to make the game a lot bigger than it is. I feel, personally, I don’t perform as well when I do that to myself. So I’m just going to go out, have a smile, have a lot of fun.

“However long the team needs me to play, however long Marky needs, I’ll be doing my best to keep the team rolling.”

Demko’s first start of the season went incredibly well last night. The Red Wings threw 27 shots on the rookie and he stopped 26 of them, helping the team to a commanding 5-1 win. With Markstrom set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, Thatcher, who has been labelled as the goalie of the future, will be making a bid to be the team’s No. 1 guy next season.

On early-season prospect performances…

Over at The Province, Mike Raptis did an in-depth look at some performances from prospects of note from the past week, including Nikita Tryamkin and Vasili Podkolzin.

Through 17 KHL games this season, Tryamkin is averaging 20 minutes a game and has 31 shots on goal. Though things didn’t work out for him in Vancouver a few years back, a new coach and a different situation could provide a new opportunity for the big defender. As the Tweet above suggests, the Canucks could use some snarl on their blueline that Tryamkin provides.

Still in Russia, 2019 first-round pick Vasili Podkolzin has been playing in the VHL, the second-highest professional league, right beneath the KHL. Here he is making a nice play behind the net to set up a goal for SKA-Neva St. Petersburg.

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Head over to the Province for more in-depth looks at Olli Juolevi, Tyler Madden, and Carson Focht. 

Last week, the Canucks hammered the Kings 8-2 in their home opener. Beyond the huge score and great play from the Canucks, the excitement was high as the team announced Bo Horvat as its captain with a wealth of Canucks legends in attendance. One of those legends in attendance was a bit of a surprise.

On Bertuzzi’s return…

Todd Bertuzzi, who hasn’t been seen in a Canucks jersey in a long, long time, was welcomed by the Vancouver crowd with a massive, warm reception. Bertuzzi said after the event that he was thrilled by what was an unexpected reception from the fans.

Adding to the fan experience is something the Canucks are putting a lot of effort into. Ben Kuzma at The Province talked to Canucks’ chief operating officer Trent Carroll about what the organization is doing to improve the fan experience. 

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“We were starting to panic with people hanging out in the concourse and not racing back to their seats. The flip side was to make it a night out for the millennials, who are way more social. You create bars and lounges with bigger televisions so they can still hang out. You enhance it and don’t inhibit it.

“We wanted to make the captaincy a fan opportunity to be there for the moment. The focus was on what’s right for them and not just us. We don’t do anything without researching the fans.”