‘We’re looking for him to be Casey’: Tocchet confidently turns to DeSmith with Demko injury news

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Tyson Cole
1 month ago
Just after the Vancouver Canucks fans got a taste of playoff hockey, they were met with the devastating news that their number one goaltender, Thatcher Demko, would be out for Game 2 and, potentially, the entire series.
This is a huge blow to the team, as Demko had been neck and neck with Connor Hellebuyck for the Vezina trophy before his injury. Demko finished the regular season with a 35-14-2 record, a 2.45 goals against average, and a .918 save percentage with five shutouts. 
Now this may bring a sigh of relief to Canucks Army to listen to head coach Rick Tocchet speak about the injury. 
“He skated yesterday, he’s not going to play tonight and we’re going to evaluate him on something,” Tocchet said. “It wasn’t the old injury; that’s all I’ve got for you guys. It’s a day-to-day thing.”
Now, this could be interpreted in two different ways. Tocchet could mean that Thatcher Demko’s injury isn’t that serious and is a day-to-day thing. Or, and what I think is more likely, his status is day-to-day as they don’t know the severity of the injury. Regardless, it’s encouraging to hear that Demko skated yesterday. If the injury had occurred in game 1, he likely would not have been on the ice in any fashion. 
What do we know now? We know that Demko is out for just game 2. While his status is in question for the rest of the series, he hasn’t been ruled out. 
What else do we know? Casey DeSmith will start game 2. Is that the right decision?

Why It’s Casey DeTime

Tocchet has only two options: Casey DeSmith, or Arturs Silovs. 
Casey DeSmith has a 12-9-6 record this season, with a 2.89 goals against average and a .895 save percentage with one shutout. 
Recency bias tends to always outshine the overall play, and that’s a great example of the thoughts on DeSmith’s season. He was a beloved backup option before the Demko injury and was the first backup outside of Demko himself with a winning record with over 20 games played since Eddie Lack in the 2014-2015 season. 
Once DeSmith came in relief on March 13th, he went 4-5-1 and, after allowing six goals in back-to-back games against the Los Angeles Kings and Vegas Golden Knights, lost the starting job to AHL starting goalie Arturs Silovs.  
In four starts this season, Silovs won three and finished with a 2.45 goals against average and a .877 save percentage. Now, it’s important to consider the strength of the opponent that Silovs faced. He played two games against the Arizona Coyotes, one against the Anaheim Ducks, and one against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Given the difference in level of competition, the fan base grew to favour Silovs and wanted him to be the main backup come playoff time. And that’s not to take anything away from Silovs; he’s been a great goaltender since he led Latvia to their first World Championship medal in history. 
But it’s the playoffs and you need to trust your veterans, and that’s Casey DeSmith. 
DeSmith has played 20+ games every season since 2019-2020, having a sub 2.8 goals against average and an above .910 save percentage in three of the four seasons before joining Vancouver. 
Now, while he hasn’t played much in the playoffs, he does have one game under his belt as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. That was a double overtime game against the New York Rangers in 2021-2022, where he stopped 48 of 51 shots, finishing with a collective 2.02 goals against average and a .941 save percentage.
But this proves that DeSmith can step up in a pinch when he’s needed. Like he had to do when Jarry went down in the playoffs, facing 51 shots on goal in his playoff debut. Like he did when Demko went down with an injury down the stretch of the season. Like he did after being benched for two games in a must-win, division-defining game against the Edmonton Oilers.
He’s had a great season for a backup this season. Among backup goalies who’ve played sub-30 games this season, he ranks eighth in goals against average and 12th in save percentage. There shouldn’t be any sense of doubt that DeSmith can continue his play and step in for however long Demko is on the shelf. 
Rick Tocchet said it himself, “We’re not looking for him to be spectacular, we’re looking for him to be Casey.”
Now Canucks fans, it’s time to rally around Casey DeSmith tonight. Do you have faith in Casey?

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