Canucks’ Rick Tocchet provides big Thatcher Demko update ahead of Game 5

Demko is getting closer.

Thatcher Demko and Arturs Silovs on either side, Rick Tocchet in middle, Vancouver Canucks logo, hockey rink in background

The Vancouver Canucks are in the midst of a thrilling best-of-7 second-round series against the Edmonton Oilers, which has now become a best-of-3 ahead of a critical Game 5 at Rogers Arena on Thursday night. The Canucks are two wins away from advancing to their first Western Conference Final since 2011, and that’s been without the services of Vezina Trophy finalist Thatcher Demko.

Although Demko remains out of the lineup after suffering an undisclosed injury in Game 6 against the Nashville Predators in Round 1, coach Rick Tocchet provided a huge update on the star goaltender earlier this week.

“All I know is he’s improved immensely the last 72 hours,” Tocchet said on Wednesday, according to’s Kevin Woodley. “I can give you that. I’m not going to give you a percentage, but it’s better than 10 percent [improvement]. He’s really, the last 2-3 days, made some strides. Big strides.”

That’s phenomenal news for Canucks fans, but the fact remains that Demko probably won’t be an option for the last three games of the second round. He has been skating for two weeks, and has progressed to crease movements along with goaltending coach Ian Clark, per Woodley.

But that doesn’t mean he’ll be ready to play against Connor McDavid and the Oilers — even if it comes down to a winner-take-all Game 7 early next week.

“I don’t know if I want to go that far,” Tocchet said when asked if the 28-year-old could return at all in the series.

Still, it’s an important update for one of the most important pieces of Vancouver’s core. Demko went 35-14-2 with a 2.45 goals-against average and .918 save percentage during the 2023-24 regular-season, adding five shutouts despite missing the final few weeks of the campaign with a left knee injury.

He played two regular-season contests before getting injured again in Game 1 against Nashville — although Tocchet confirmed that it wasn’t related to his previous ailment.

But in his absence, third-stringer Arturs Silovs has been providing goaltending well above his pay grade, and will need to keep doing so if the Canucks hope to win this series.

Canucks will likely run with Arturs Silovs for rest of Round 2

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Arturs Silovs (31) makes a save on on Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) during the third period in game three of the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place.Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
In Demko’s absence, former World Championship MVP Silovs has been solid, and at times spectacular to help the Canucks grind out a couple of key wins.

The young Latvian shut out the Predators in a series-clinching Game 6 in Round 1, and it didn’t look at all like the moment was too big for the netminder. He’s also been solid in Round 2; he made 42 saves on 45 shots in Game 3, and allowed three on 30 in Game 4.

Silovs is up to a 4-3 record with a 2.71 GAA and .907 save percentage in seven postseason starts, which is better than anyone in Vancouver could have asked from a minor-league goalie.

If this series does go seven games, there’s a real chance that Demko could be ready to return for the monumental tilt. But until then, Silovs will continue handling duties between the pipes, starting with an absolutely critical Game 5 on Thursday.

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