June 20th, 2024

Injured Demko, Lindholm nearing returns to Vancouver Canucks

By Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press on April 9, 2024.

Vancouver Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko (35) stops Pittsburgh Penguins' Valtteri Puustinen (48) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on February 27, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER – A couple of key players could soon be back in the Vancouver Canucks’ lineup as the team prepares for the post-season.

All-star goalie Thatcher Demko and forward Elias Lindholm were both on the ice for practice Tuesday, although Demko left before the session ended.

Head coach Rick Tocchet said the Canucks (48-22-8) have a plan for getting the 28-year-old American goalie back into a game and the plan included a “good, full practice for him with limitations” on Tuesday.

“We’re really going day to day,” Tocchet said. “We had a good day today, we’ll see how it goes tomorrow.”

Demko was sidelined by a lower-body injury midway through Vancouver’s 5-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets on March 9 and has missed 12 games.

Despite the absence, he remains tied with Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers for most wins this season (34).

Demko has been a vital part of Vancouver’s success this season. He boasts a 34-13-2 record with a .917 save percentage and 2.47 goals-against average, and has recorded five shutouts.

The Canucks have gone 6-5-1 without the netminder, with Casey DeSmith taking much of the workload.

Vancouver remains atop the Pacific Division standings, five points up on the Edmonton Oilers, and was the first Canadian team to clinch a playoff spot.

The coaching staff will continue to ramp up Demko’s workload as they prepare him for game action, Tocchet said. He did not comment on when they expect the goaltender to get back into a game.

Meanwhile, Tocchet said Lindholm is “getting close” and may play Wednesday when the Canucks host the Arizona Coyotes.

The 29-year-old Swedish forward has been out since March 23, but his upper-body injury goes back further than that.

“Obviously in my case, I was trying to battle through it. Just couldn’t do it anymore,” Lindholm said Tuesday. “It was a good time to let it heal. And hopefully get back on the ice pretty soon.”

The Canucks picked up Lindholm from the Flames in a blockbuster trade on Jan. 31. The deal saw Vancouver send Calgary a first-round pick in this year’s draft, a conditional fourth-round selection, winger Andrei Kuzmenko and a pair of defensive prospects.

Lindholm has struggled since joining the Canucks, however, registering five goals and four assists in 22 games.

He’s hoping to make a bigger impact when he returns to the ice.

“I obviously came here to do something good in the playoffs. And obviously so far in the regular season, it hasn’t worked out. So I’m pretty excited to get this thing going,” he said.

“I’m motivated, I feel good and confident, so hopefully I can be back playing soon, play a couple games and get going and be ready.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2024.

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