Demko injury Mar 12

VANCOUVER -- Thatcher Demko is week to week for the Vancouver Canucks with a lower-body injury but is expected to return prior to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Yes. I'm not worried about that at all," Canucks coach Rick Tocchet said Tuesday about Demko's availability for the postseason, which is scheduled to begin in late April.

Vancouver's No. 1 goalie made 12 saves before leaving with the injury 6:40 into the second period of a 5-0 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.

Demko is 34-13-2 in 49 games, tied for the NHL lead in wins with Alexandar Georgiev of the Colorado Avalanche, and is eighth in save percentage (.917), and ninth in goals-against average (2.47) among goalies who have played at least 20 games. His five shutouts rank third and he is third in games (49) and ice time (2896:09), and fifth in shots faced (1,427).

"You take the negative with the positive," Tocchet said. "I thought of that: Do I want him hurt? No. Do I want him in the net tomorrow? Of course. But whether how long he's out, he's going to get some rest."

Demko, who was selected to the 2024 NHL All-Star Game this season, was named the NHL's Third Star of the Week ending March 10, going 3-0-0 with a 0.81 GAA and .969 save percentage in three games. The second-round pick by Vancouver in the 2014 NHL Draft (No. 36), Demko is 115-80-17 with a 2.80 GAA, .912 save percentage and eight shutouts in 217 regular-season games (211 starts).

"[Demko] has shown he's one of the best goalies in the League and losing him for a little bit here, you never want to see that, but we know he'll be back and he'll be ready to go," defenseman Tyler Myers said. "That being said, we have a ton of confidence in [backup goalie Casey DeSmith] and he's been really solid for us."

DeSmith made 10 saves in relief for the Canucks against the Jets and is expected to be the starter with Demko out.

Tocchet said he would start at least the next two games.

"I think Casey deserves a chance to get the ball and take it," Tocchet said.

In the first, DeSmith made 30 saves in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Avalanche on Wednesday.

DeSmith is 8-4-6 with a 2.91 GAA and .899 save percentage in 20 games (18 starts) this season, his first in Vancouver after being acquired in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens on Sept. 19. The 32-year-old is 66-48-21 with a 2.82 GAA and .911 save percentage in 154 games (133 starts) over six NHL seasons with the Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins, including playing an NHL career-high 38 games last season in Pittsburgh.

"It's always exciting to play more hockey," DeSmith said. "I've done this a couple times in my career filling in for injury. I always enjoy the experience and I've had some good success in the past when I have the net for a couple of weeks or whatever it is, so I'm looking forward to it.

"You go the whole season with sporadic starts and then you have this run where you're filling in and you're getting a bunch of games at one time, so having done it in the past a bunch of times, you can call on that experience, and that's the benefit of being an old guy."

The Canucks are sixth in goals-against per game (2.69) after finishing 25th (3.61) last season. Demko is a big part of that but so too is the improved defensive play during Tocchet's first full season as coach after he was hired Jan. 22, 2023.

Vancouver (42-17-8), which is first in the Pacific Division and Western Conference, has given up three goals during its current four-game winning streak, and defenseman Quinn Hughes said that focus continues regardless of its goalie.

"I don't know if anything changes, just getting back to what we are good at and what makes us successful," Hughes said. "We're coming into our own again."

Arturs Silovs, who was recalled from Abbotsford of the American Hockey League under emergency conditions on Tuesday, will be the backup.

Silovs, who has not played with the Canucks this season, is 3-2-0 with a 2.75 GAA and .908 save percentage in five NHL games, all coming last season.

The 22-year-old is 15-11-6 with a 2.74 GAA, .907 save percentage and four shutouts in 33 AHL games this season.

"I remember when we called him up, the second, third game you could see the improvement so it's good that he gets a taste up here," Tocchet said.