Tuesday October 15 - Vancouver Canucks vs. Detroit Red Wings - 7 p.m. - Sportsnet One, Sportsnet 650
Vancouver Canucks: 4 GP, 2-2-0, 4 pts, fifth in Pacific Division
Detroit Red Wings: 5 GP, 3-2-0, 6 pts, fourth in Atlantic Division
And so it begins...
As the Vancouver Canucks reach the fifth game of their 82-game regular-season schedule, the team has made its first call-ups of the year.
On Monday, the Canucks announced that goaltender Zane McIntyre had been recalled from the Utica Comets. The plan is for him to back up Thatcher Demko this week, while Jacob Markstrom is taking a personal leave of absence to deal with a family matter.
Markstrom was named first star in the Canucks' 3-2 shootout win over Philadelphia in their last game on Saturday, and has been consistently good in all four starts this year. With Demko healthy and ready to play a full season as Markstrom's backup, now's as good a time as any for the Canucks to start seeing what they really have in the 23-year-old Californian.
When I spoke to Demko at training camp, he lit up when I asked him about his partnership with Markstrom.
"I couldn't ask for a better guy to be around every day and to learn from," he said. "His season last year was remarkable. It was so good to see him have that success, given his path to getting to the Canucks. It's impressive.
"He's impressive off the ice as well, just really mature and he's a great leader for our team. A lot of guys look up to him, myself included, so he's been great. A guy that I can bounce ideas off of and when things aren't going my way, I'll ask him a few questions and that kind of thing. It's a good relationship, for sure."
Demko also agreed that Markstrom's intense approach to his craft is something he's learning from.
"Yeah, for sure. I've always been a little competitive myself. It's good just to watch him and see how he channels it into being a leader and how at the end of the day, it's team first. He's always got a great attitude, too. It's a long season and the amount of games he played last year, it can be hard to maintain that energy and positivity, but he did a great job."
With just nine games played last year and one in 2017-18, Demko is still officially categorized as an NHL rookie. Last season, he went 4-3-1 with a .913 save percentage and 2.81 goals-against average.
Demko played two games in preseason, including the Canucks' 6-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators at Rogers Arena on September 25. He told Ben Kuzma of The Province
that outcome is in his rearview mirror.
“If you want to be up here you’re going to have games like that and learn how to put it behind you,” Demko said. “It’s definitely one of the things that all great goalies have learned to do. They might give up six and then win 2-1 the next night. It’s something I’m eager to have in my game.
“It’s easy to make the game a lot bigger than it is. Personally, I don’t perform as well when I do that to myself. I’m going to go out and smile and have a lot of fun.”
MacIntyre has been recalled on an emergency basis. Markstrom is expected to be back with the team in time for this weekend's back-to-back games against the Rangers and the Devils. He officially becomes a non-roster player, but his salary still counts against the cap, so Antoine Roussel has now been moved onto long-term injured reserve.
On Tuesday morning, the Canucks also announced that left-side defenseman Ashton Sautner had been recalled from Utica. Seventh defenseman Oscar Fantenberg didn't practice on Monday — word is that he's sick. Seems like Sautner will serve as the spare until Fantenberg feels better.
Now 25, Sautner has been a steady blue-line presence in 22 games with the Canucks over the last two seasons. He can handle the NHL game if needed.
Here's how the Canucks practiced on Monday at Rogers Arena.
With Tyler Motte moving back into the regular rotation after recovering from his mysterious upper-body injury, Travis Green has now confirmed that Motte is in against Detroit.
That most likely means that Fantenberg will be placed on IR — or that waiver-exempt Adam Gaudette is re-assigned to Utica.
After finishing with a completely blank stat line in a season-low 10:12 of ice time against the Flyers on Saturday, Gaudette looked like he was headed for his second scratch of the season on Monday, when he and Loui Eriksson skated as part of the defense group. Travis Green confirmed after Tuesday's skate that Gaudette won't play.
With the Comets currently so thin at centre while Tyler Graovac and Carter Bancks are both out with injuries, Gaudette's presence down the middle could really be of use — especially with the Comets kicking off a three-in-four on Wednesday.
With the Canucks also out in New York this weekend, it'd be easy for Gaudette to re-join the team after just a few days on the farm.
Tuesday's morning skate was another optional, so we'll have to wait till game time to see exactly how the roster shakes out.
As for the Red Wings, the rebuilding team that many prognosticators pegged for another cellar-dwelling season is off to a pretty good start. At 25, Anthony Mantha is finally showing off the hands that made him a scoring sensation in the QMJHL at the NHL level. He has six goals in his first five games, playing on an impressive top line with Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi.
Rookie Taro Hirose was a free-agent signing out of Michigan State last spring — an undersized 23-year-old winger from Calgary with speed to burn who earned himself a spot on the Wings' second line out of training camp.
Here's how Detroit practiced at Rogers Arena on Monday:
Trevor Daley and Frans Nielsen have both missed the last three games with injuries and Jonathan Ericsson hasn't played yet this year.
Alex Biega probably spent most of last week on a plane after being traded from the Canucks to the Wings late in the night on Sunday, October 6. He's now back in Vancouver and looking to make his debut in a Detroit uniform as part of a third pairing with 21-year-old local boy Dennis Cholowski.
With that, you're up to date for now. Watch for another roster move to be announced before puck drop, and enjoy the game!