EDMONTON (NEWS 1130) – Vancouver Canucks fans don’t have much time to savour a huge win for the team Thursday night.
Game 7 of their second round series against the Golden Knights comes slightly less than 24 hours after last night’s crucial victory that saw the Canucks top Vegas 4-0.
A lot of people didn’t see the Canucks getting to this position; the team was down 3-1 in the series just days ago and their number one goalie got injured.
But rookie goaltender Thatcher Demko showed up in a big way. The 24-year-old got his first Stanley Cup playoff start in Game 5, helping the team beat the Golden Knights 4-3 to force a Game 6.
His shutout on Thursday made Demko the first rookie goaltender to win each of his first two career NHL playoff starts when his team was facing elimination since Jacques Plante in 1953.
Thatcher Demko is the first rookie goalie to win each his first 2 career NHL playoff starts when his team was facing elimination since Jacques Plante in 1953. #Canucks
— Adam Forsythe (@adamforsythe) September 4, 2020
But with a tight turnaround between Game 6 and 7, can Demko keep it up? Sportsnet 650’s James Cybulski says we need to keep in mind the rookie is a young guy.
“I don’t think it’s like he’s a 38-year-old goaltender who’s been going every night. He’s played two games in the last six months. It is a quick turnaround here, having to go back between the pipes in less than 24 hours, but are you going to go against him, based on what you’ve seen this week? The way he’s performed?” he tells NEWS 1130.
“Thatcher has been our MVP both nights. He’s standing on his head and you can see the confidence he has. He’s calm and collected and getting the job done. He’s making it easy for us to win games.” – @Jake_Virtanen, on Demko's back-to-back wins pic.twitter.com/ZdF4BoJcBP
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) September 4, 2020
Demko has stopped 90 of 91 shots in two starts.
“As much as we all want to complain about the NHL’s schedule and how this is going to play out tonight, in fairness, Vegas is dealing with a level playing field. And that’s something that both teams are going to have to deal with. What makes it a little bit of a wrinkle for the Canucks is that, in all likelihood, you’ve got a rookie goaltender that will have to play back-to-back.”
This is the Canucks’ longest Stanley Cup run since 2011.
Tensions are high, excitement is building, and Cybulski says there’s no doubt that fans are ready for a potential Game 7 win.
“In a lot of ways, this feels like house money for the Vancouver Canucks and Canucks fans, for that matter,” he says. “I mean, no body really thought that they were going to beat the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. A lot of people wrote these guys off after they lost Game 1 to the Minnesota Wild going back a little over a month ago.”
But here we are: the Canucks and Golden Knights are tied 3-3 in the series, hoping to come out on top to advance to the third round and play the winner of the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars matchup.
“We are talking about knocking off, coming back from a 3-1 deficit, and everybody writing (the Canucks) off against Vegas earlier this week. They’re on the cusp of pulling off not only an upset of knocking off the defending Stanley Cup champions, but right now, a level playing field against the team most people would pick as the odds-on favoured to win the Stanley Cup this year,” Cybulski says.
He adds this Canucks team is likely the most resilient we’ve seen in the franchise since, “dare I say 1994?”
“This is remarkable stuff we’re seeing.”
Puck drop is at 6:00 p.m. You can watch the game on Sportsnet, hear the call on Sportsnet 650, and catch updates on NEWS 1130 every :15 and :45 past the hour.