Scenes from morning skate: A detailed timeline as Demko injury news breaks ahead of Game 2 between Canucks and Predators

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
3 days ago
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The Vancouver Canucks will look to protect home ice for a second straight game and grab a commanding 2-0 lead in their opening round Stanley Cup playoff series with the Nashville Predators when the series resumes tonight at Rogers Arena.
But they’ll have to do it without All-Star netminder Thatcher Demko, who is out tonight and whose availability for the remainder of this series is now in question. What follows is truly scenes from the morning skate and a minute-by-minute account as the news broke on Tuesday morning, hours before the Canucks and Predators resume their series.

What we saw

It was apparent early Tuesday morning that something was amiss. As reporters covering this series were allowed into Rogers Arena at 10:15am, the Canucks took to the ice for their optional morning skate. Immediately, it was apparent that Thatcher Demko was nowhere to be seen. Instead, Casey DeSmith was occupying the net the Canucks will defend for the first and third periods. Now, it’s important to note that the Canucks are not a team that always lives by the ‘starter’s crease’ credo as far as morning skates go, with Thatcher Demko often taking the net at the far end of the ice. 
But this morning, the biggest tell was DeSmith working with Ian Clark and going through what are generally considered the ‘starter’s drills’ in one end with Arturs Silovs in goal at the other end of the ice. And there was no sign of Thatcher Demko – a workhorse who wouldn’t miss a morning skate when he was slated to get the starting assignment.
As teammates trickled onto the ice, it became clearer that Demko was not going to join them. And when the door at the Canucks bench closed at 10:30am — the sign that no one else would be taking to the ice — it was then evident the Canucks would likely be without Demko, who made 20 saves in Game 1, including all 10 shots he faced in the third period.
The Canucks’ locker room opened to the media at around 10:45am, and while Demko’s gear hung in his stall, there was no sign of the netminder. And that has been the case for two days now. Demko was not available to the media after playing a starring role in the team’s playoff opener. And again on Monday, after a sparsely attended optional skate, Demko was again not made available to the media to speak about Sunday’s game, the atmosphere at the rink, and other storylines that emerged from the series opener.
Nikita Zadorov, Elias Pettersson and JT Miller all conducted media scrums on Tuesday morning. None was prepared to speak with certainty that Demko would not be available. So with microphones and TV cameras on them, the players danced around questions about Demko, what he means to the team and how the group would move forward without him in the event that he would not be able to suit up in Game 2.
It was shortly after 11am when Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet made his way to the podium that the Demko news was delivered by Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli. Matter of factly, Tocchet leaned the microphone to handle the initial question from TSN’s Farhan Lalji.
Lalji: ‘What can you tell us about the reports on Thatcher that he won’t play tonight and is questionable for the series?’
Tocchet: “Well, he skated yesterday, he’s not going to play tonight. We’re going to evaluate him today on something. It wasn’t the old injury, and that’s all I really got for you guys.”
And with that, the Canucks and this first round series have been thrown a massive curve ball. Demko missed 14 games after suffering a knee injury in a March 9th home game against Winnipeg and returned to play the final two games of the regular season and this series opener. After Sunday’s performance, Demko carried a staggering .974 career playoff save performance.
Casey DeSmith will make his second career post-season start. He didn’t get through his first one in 2022 when he played 68 minutes and left in overtime with an injury that kept him out for the remainder of those playoffs.
Aside from DeSmith, the Canucks will make no other lineup changes for tonight. That means Vasily Podkolzin, Nils Aman, Noah Juulsen and Mark Friedman will serve as extras. Arturs Silvos, recalled on an emergency basis ahead of the series, will slide in as the backup.
DeSmith last saw game action on April 18th in a 3-1 win in Edmonton. The 32-year-old got into 29 games in his first season with the Canucks, posting a 12-9-6 record with a 2.89 GAA and an .896 save percentage. He made 28 saves in a 5-2 win in Nashville on December 19th.
Today’s referees: Trevor Hanson and Eric Furlatt (Michael Markovic is the standby official)

What we heard

Rick Tocchet on when Demko’s injury may have happened: “I’m not quite sure. I don’t have a timeline exactly, so I don’t want to speculate.”
Tocchet on team dealing with another Demko absence so soon after the last one: “Well, I think all year we’ve had people step up in and out of the lineup. Casey played a big game against Edmonton 10 days ago to win the division. He’s done it all year for us. Just march forward. Guys are excited about tonight’s game.”
Tocchet on losing his starting goalie this early in the playoffs: “If you’re going to go far, you’re going to use 28 guys. I get that certain stars and stuff, I get it, but to go deep, you have to use 28 guys in your lineup. You’re going to have to have people step up and the team step. That’s the mentality.”
Tocchet on what he and the team need from Casey De Smith: “We expect the way he’s played for us all season – really solid hockey. We’re not looking for him to be spectacular. We’re looking for him to be Casey.”
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