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Rick Tocchet on Thatcher Demko: ‘He’s improved immensely the last 72 hours’

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Mazzei
1 month ago
Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko appears to have made significant progress on his recovery and could perhaps return to action in this playoff series against the Edmonton Oilers.
“He’s improved immensely the last 72 hours,” Tocchet said during his media availability on Wednesday, less than a day after his club dropped a 3-2 decision to the Oilers in Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinal series.
While his exact return was not provided during today’s media scrum, it is certainly an encouraging development that Demko’s chances of playing against the Oilers are not zero. Should he be given the clearance to get back into these playoffs, this would fall in line with Frank Seravalli’s report from last week that the earliest possible return for Demko would be in Game 5.
Seravalli added a bit of extra context on social media and the OilersNation Everyday show with Tyler Yaremchuk on Wednesday.
“Now it starts to get really interesting for Van,” Seravalli said. “The update that I have is that Demko has started to take shots.
“He’s not yet ramped it up to 100 percent, not going to play in Game 5, but Game 6, Saturday night, I think is still on the table. It would be crazy if they did it, only because Silovs has shown no signs of cracking. He’s been good.
“But when your season is on the line, potentially, if the Oilers win Game 5, do you trot out one of the three or five best goalies in hockey?”
Now, it’s understandable why it might not make sense to immediately go back to Demko as soon as he is fit to play again. After all, Arturs Silovs has been a revelation in these playoffs and has helped guide the team through a tough stretch where they lost both Demko and Casey DeSmith to injuries.
Even though the Canucks were unable to put a stranglehold on the series last night, Silovs has done nothing to make the Canucks brass think that it is time to make a change in the net. Especially if it were to turn to a goalie who has had two knee injuries in the past few months, including the most recent ailment that has kept him out since Game 1 against the Predators.
At the end of the day, Demko was named a Vezina finalist this year for a reason and has been a key reason for Vancouver’s success up to this point. Tocchet himself told Demko around the time of the recent setback that his season was not over and that the team would still be playing games upon his clearance. That is a telltale sign that the 28-year-old will be given the starting job right back as soon as he is ready to go and it is simply a matter of when we will see him again in these playoffs, not if.
In the meantime, Silovs will continue to hold the fort and keep his stranglehold on the crease until Demko is given the green light to come back. Despite what some star players may tell you, Silovs has done well in giving the Canucks a chance to win throughout the postseason and is playing himself into a long-term role on the team for next season. He should have no shame in what he has been able to achieve in these last few weeks despite his time as Vancouver’s starter being finite by the looks of it.
While we await Demko’s return, the Canucks will look to reclaim the series lead when it shifts back to Vancouver for Game 5 tomorrow. You can catch the action on Sportsnet with puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m. PDT.

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