The Vancouver Canucks are potentially running out of NHL goaltenders. Thatcher Demko missed practice on Thursday morning after testing positive with a Covid-rapid-test, and won’t know the results of the more important and definitive PCR test until later this afternoon or evening. Back-up Jaroslav Halak is already in protocol from testing positive in the US along with teammates Bo Horvat and Conor Garland.
Oh, and leading scorer JT Miller tested positive Thursday as well.
Best case scenario, the PCR tests come back negative and one or both players are available Friday night at home against the Florida Panthers and beyond.
Worst case scenario; the Canucks are playing against the Panthers, the St. Louis Blues and the Edmonton Oilers without these five players.
The next question revolves around who replaces the team’s most valuable player, Demko. Upon the news, goalie Michael DiPietro was recalled from AHL Abbotsford and joined the big Canucks taxi squad. It would appear however that Spencer Martin, who already travelled with the big club on the taxi squad and as the back-up after Halak tested positive, will be the go-to netminder.
“For whoever starts, he’s gonna be great for two or three games, and then we’ll get Thatcher back,” head coach Bruce Boudreau said after practice.
Martin has three games of NHL experience, going 0-2-and-1 back in the 2016-’17 season with the Colorado Avalanche, the team that drafted him in the third round in 2013. As a 26-year-old netminder this season in Abbotsford he’s posted a 2.24 goals against average and a .921 save percentage over seven games.
DiPietro, the Vancouver Canucks third-rounder in 2017, has played 13 games in Abby with a 3.19 GAA and an .896 save percentage. Keep in mind, the baby-Canucks have gone through prolonged and devastating Covid and injury issues so gauging numbers, positive and negative, can be misleading. Regardless, Martin, with a record of 5-0-and-2, would be the logical and very likely choice.
Up front, the Canucks could be facing three excellent, OK, two-and-a-half excellent hockey teams while missing three of their top four point producers.
Defenceman Kyle Burroughs missed practice as well with an upper-body injury but is expected to be available Friday night.
“Depends on your attitude, I thought if you saw practice today they came out with the attitude that we’ll show everybody that we can win with what we have and whoever’s in the line-up,” Boudreau said.
Stay tuned for the results.