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Canucks: Arturs Silovs gets the call as Thatcher Demko hits the shelf

SportsCanucks: Arturs Silovs gets the call as Thatcher Demko hits the shelf

Thatcher Demko is reportedly out for a few weeks with a suspected knee injury, so the Canucks’ No. 3 goalie has been recalled from AHL Abbotsford

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There’s a secret weapon to Casey DeSmith, Rick Tocchet said Tuesday: DeSmith is just so likable.

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Tocchet confirmed the Vancouver Canucks for a few weeks would be without No. 1 netminder Thatcher Demko, who is out week to week with a lower-body injury. It’s suspected Demko is dealing with a knee sprain suffered during Saturday’s 5-0 Canucks win over the Winnipeg Jets.

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For now, the crease is DeSmith’s and Tocchet has no worries about what’s to come.

“When you like the goalie you tend to block more shots for him. I don’t know why. I’ve had some goalies where you’re not a big fan of the guy… I’m not saying I kind of veered out of the way, but when you really like a goalie then you’ll really dive in. And these guys really love Casey,” Tocchet said, drawing few laughs. He wouldn’t of course, name any names in his own case.

Tuesday, the Canucks called up Arturs Silovs to back up DeSmith.

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Tocchet said that DeSmith would play in the Canucks’  two games — Wednesday versus Colorado, and Saturday versus Washington — but that there’s a chance Silovs might play next week.

“I think Casey deserves a chance to get the ball and take it, regardless of what happens tomorrow night. I think … he’ll be fine. So yeah, we’ll just we’ll see how it goes here,” the coach said.

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Silovs made five starts for Vancouver last season and performed well. But his season in Abbotsford this year has been mixed, while fellow goalie prospect Nikita Tolopilo has mostly impressed.

Tocchet expressed confidence that his No. 1 goalie would be back with time to spare before the playoffs.

The Canucks’ regular season concludes Apr. 18.

“He’s not going to play or go on the ice till we feel — I don’t think anybody’s ever 100 per cent — but to the standards that we have, he’s not going to play until he’s, I think as close to 100 per cent as possible,” Tocchet said.

Fortunately for the Canucks, they have just eight games until the end of March.

DeSmith has stepped in for the No. 1 goalie before; last year in Pittsburgh he was leaned on multiple times when starter Tristan Jarry went down with injuries. He made a career-high 38 appearances for the Penguins in 2022-23.

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“It’s always exciting to play more hockey,” he said with a smile after practice on Tuesday.

He’s comfortable having to make a run of starts after only starting sporadically.

“Having done it in the past, a bunch of times, obviously, you can call on that experience and that’s the benefit of being an old guy, I guess,” he said.

He’s 32 now, the job is simple: be steady and reliable.

“Over time, you just kind of learn that you never really want to get too high or too low. That’s kind of the goal of the mindset of a goalie, not have those ebbs and flows and just keep everything steady.”

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Casey DeSmith will have the Canucks’ starter’s net for the next while Photo by Matt Krohn /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

After the Canucks host the powerful Avalanche on Wednesday, it’s a series of also-rans through the end of next week: Washington on Saturday, then Buffalo, Montreal and Calgary.

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Silovs could start in at least one of those games.

Silovs has already shown he can play in the league. The task this year is different.

“Just be ready,” he said. If the opportunity comes, get the team a win.

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The Canucks then face Los Angeles, Dallas and Anaheim over the last week of March to end a nine-game homestand.

Latvia’s goalkeeper Arturs Silovs celebrates after winning the IIHF Ice Hockey Men’s World Championships third place playoff match between United States and Latvia in Tampere, Finland, on May 28, 2023. Photo by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND /AFP via Getty Images

HOW IT’S DONE — To make cap space for the Silovs recall, Dakota Joshua, who has been out with an injured hand for nearly a month after a fight Feb. 13 versus Chicago, was moved to long-term injured reserve. Joshua became eligible for the designation last week, once he’d been out for 10 games. (You also have to be out for at least 24 days.)

Because Silovs is being called up due to Demko’s injury, the recall is under emergency conditions, which means the Canucks don’t have to use a regular recall. Teams get four regular recalls between the trade deadline and the end of the regular season; Vancouver has already used one, when Vasily Podkolzin was recalled on Saturday.

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