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Thatcher Demko ‘ready to go’ for Canucks versus Flames

Vancouver Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet confirmed that Thatcher Demko will return from injury for Tuesday's game against the Calgary Flames.
Thatcher Demko will be back in net for the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday against the Calgary Flames.

It’s all going according to plan.

Thatcher Demko suffered a knee injury during a game against the Winnipeg Jets back on March 9. Shortly after, Demko and the Canucks medical staff put together a plan that would see Demko return by Tuesday, April 16 against the Calgary Flames: the penultimate game of the Canucks’ regular season.

“Our goal since pretty much close to day one was to get back for the Calgary game,” said Demko last week. “Obviously, I do feel good right now. I think the timeline that we’ve kind of been trying to follow and pushing for has been the Calgary game.”

After Monday morning’s practice, head coach Rick Tocchet confirmed that Demko will start Tuesday’s game against the Flames.

“He’s healthy, he’s ready to go,” said Tocchet. “He’s definitely going to play tomorrow and we’ll go from there.”

This is great news for the Canucks, who have badly missed having their elite number-one goaltender in net. His return now gives him the chance to get two more games to get up to speed before the playoffs.

Of course, by Thursday’s final game of the regular season, the final standings might have already been decided, giving the Canucks the option of resting players ahead of the playoffs. Tocchet wouldn’t say whether Demko would start on both Tuesday and Thursday.

“There’s so many scenarios right now, they’re spinning my head,” said Tocchet. “Honestly, we’re just worried about tomorrow and then we’ll deal with it from then. That’s the way you’ve got to look at it…There’s a lot of what-ifs but Thatcher will be in tomorrow.”

It’s been a long journey back to action for Demko and he credited the staff around him for the aggressive recovery plan to get back ahead of the playoffs.

“It’s an injury, you don’t know, it’s unpredictable,” said Demko. “I really appreciate the staff matching my determination to get back. Sometimes, it sucks for them, because they’ve got to take care of these guys too and then I’m asking a lot of them and they’re willing to do it.”

“Since he’s been out, he’s at the rink twice a day,” said Tocchet. “He’s by himself sometimes with the therapist. He’s here at 7 a.m., he’s here at 7 p.m. — he’s worked really hard to get to this position. Like, really hard. He’s probably accelerated the process because he worked so hard. I think that’s contagious and it shows the other players the dedication and how bad he wanted to come back and help this team.”

The return of Demko means Arturs Silovs will head back to the Abbotsford Canucks in the AHL. The rookie goaltender was brought up to Vancouver as an emergency recall with Demko out and must be returned as soon as Demko is activated off the Injured Reserve list.

In any case, Silovs will be need for Abbotsford’s own playoff run. The Abbotsford Canucks have two more games remaining in their regular season and have already qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs. Silovs has split the net in Abbotsford with Nikita Tolopilo this season but has been the better of the two goaltenders overall and is likely to get the start in Game 1.