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Scenes from skate: Oilers? Flames? No, teams are saving their starters to face the Canucks

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Photo credit:© Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
5 months ago
If we had told you at the start of the year that by late October, teams would be saving their starters for the Canucks and choosing to turn to their backups for games against the two Alberta teams, would you have believed us?
Because that’s what we’re going to see the first instance of tonight, when the St. Louis Blues visit Rogers Arena after a 3-0 win over the Calgary Flames last night. The Blues went with backup Joel Hofer last night, meaning Jordan Binnington will get the start in the crease for St. Louis tonight. Now, the Canucks have a bit of a history of lighting Binnignton up, but you get the point.
Tomorrow night, we expect to see Igor Shesterkin start for the New York Rangers while the Canucks counter with Casey DeSmith. The Rangers started Jonathan Quick last night in Edmonton, where they too blanked the Oilers by a final score of 3-0.
Tonight, it’s Thatcher Demko vs. Jordan Binnington as the 4-2 Vancouver Canucks welcome the 3-2-1 St. Louis Blues to town. Here’s what went down at morning skate.

What we saw

These were the line rushes from yesterday’s practice, but they should remain unchanged for tonight’s game.
-Teddy Blueger didn’t skate today, but continues to do off-ice work. He should skate fairly soon after going down with a lower-body injury in the Canucks’ final preseason game three weeks ago.
-As mentioned, Demko starts tonight, per head coach Rick Tocchet.
Speaking of Tocchet…

What was said

Rick Tocchet said that the road teams’ clear goaltending plans didn’t factor into his club’s decision to start Demko tonight and DeSmith tomorrow. Tocchet spoke yesterday about the importance of having DeSmith.
“Well, we’ve got an option to put Demmer in some consecutive games also, but Casey’s done a nice job for us, too. So we don’t want to have inactivity but it’s a perfect spot to use both goalies. You know, there’s a lot of dialogue, ‘Hey, who do you play first’ and all that stuff, but, you know, I like the rotation we have right now.”
Canucks defenceman Ian Cole spoke about the team’s structure on the penalty kill through the first six games of the 2023–24 season.
“It’s been good. We’re kind of in a little bit of a diamond situation, which is new for me. I’ve never done that. But you know,  I do like it. You take away the middle, you take away the flank shots, you try to recover back to the net hard and clean up those rebounds. Overall, it’s been good. We want to be aggressive when we can, which is definitely the right mentality in my mind. You get too passive and teams start dicing you up pretty good.”

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