The Canucks are learning hard on their masked man.

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That Thatcher Demko has been standing on his head is not in doubt.

That it might be enough to carry the team isn’t in doubt either, but it shouldn’t be taken as a slight against the lanky netminder.

He’s on fire of late and that’s a good thing for the Canucks, even if it’s also a reminder how heavily they’ve been leaning on their goaltenders the last few seasons.

The Canucks have 25 games to play. They’re going to need 18 wins or so to make the playoffs.

This is a herculean task.

Tanner Pearson is a handy winger for the Canucks.
Tanner Pearson is a handy winger for the Canucks. Photo by Jeff Vinnick /Getty Images

Pearson’s struggles

Tanner Pearson’s putting in a good shift, but he’s not getting results.

Oddly, as much as it seems like he and Bo Horvat should fit well, Horvat doesn’t have a single assist on a Pearson goal this season.

Horvat has drawn assists on Hoglander, Boeser, Hughes, Juolevi, Benn and Gaudette goals.

Pearson has assists on Horvat, Hoglander and Hughes goals.

Priorities

There’s not a lot of room to be spared on next year’s cap and in a world where you don’t know if you’ll be able to get out from under your mistakes — the lack of interest in Loui Eriksson and Sven Baertschi scream loudly here —resigning Tanner Pearson before engaging in real talks with Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes’ agent seems foolish.

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Pearson has been good for the Canucks, but he’s hardly an irreplaceable player.

Now this is depth

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Looking ahead

Alex, on point:

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The Tryamkin interest

As long as Jim Benning is in charge, the Canucks will remain interested in bringing back Nikita Tryamkin. They talked last summer but budget pressures meant ownership didn’t want to make an offer until closer to the season.

The deadline to sign restricted free agents and have them play this season passed last Monday. It wasn’t a surprise that Tryamkin didn’t receive an offer from the Canucks, since his contract runs until April 30 and he’d have to quarantine for two weeks under current rules, pushing well past the projected end of the NHL season.

With Tryamkin’s season over, the Canucks could talk with him about signing a contract for the 2021-22 season. But with such a tight cap situation, what will they really be able to offer?

A podcast

Very fun stuff here from Zac Dalpe, who among other things dishes on the 2013-14 season in Vancouver.

=He explains how he had to win two shootout practices under Torts to even have a sniff at take shoot, how it actually happened and why his attempt was so bad.

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1000 games

Shoutout to Derek Jory who recently worked his 1000th Canucks game.

Jory was one of many who was terminated last fall during the team’s cutbacks. He’s working game days on a contract basis and doing his best to bring his usual charm to the team’s social media.

He’s made mistakes but he’s done his best to own them.

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I asked him the other day about what it meant to hit 1,000.

“When Red Hamilton hit 1,000 games earlier this year, it got me thinking. I did the math and realized I hit 1,000 this season,” he told me.

“No official tracking, but I texted my former boss Kevin Kinghorn and he said he didn’t ever remember me missing a game. I don’t either. So that’s 12 full seasons, plus this year. Not counting pre-season or playoffs. I’m beyond proud to have hit 1,000 games. It’s not something I ever thought about, but young me who set his goals on being the Canucks writer when he was 10 years old is thrilled.”

Canucks celebrate after a goal by Vancouver Canucks centre Tyler Graovac in 2019.
Canucks celebrate after a goal by Vancouver Canucks centre Tyler Graovac in 2019. Photo by Christopher Hanewinckel /USA TODAY Sports

Transactions in the time of Covid

A minor roster move in a normal season is barely worth a mention.

But in this, the strangest of seasons, Tyler Graovac’s recall from a loan to the Manitoba Moose is instructive in how NHL teams are often walking a tight rope in playing games of “what-if.”

When the trio of Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle and Brandon Sutter were absent from practice on Friday, the Canucks were forced to consider dressing seven defencemen on Saturday night.

They were saved from that reality by Sutter recovering enough from whatever ailment slowed him during Wednesday’s 5-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens to play on Saturday vs. Edmonton.

But you still saw how close to the line they were and it cast our eyes towards Manitoba, where Graovac was meant to be the fail-safe option.

He suffered a concussion March 3, putting him out of action and seemingly no longer an option to be recalled at a moment when the Canucks really need another forward.

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It seems the Canucks’ front office was thinking ahead, realizing that Graovac wouldn’t be able to return to action for about a week at least, the same amount of time he’d have to spend in isolation if they were to recall him from Manitoba.

And so, they did.

The first move in this bit of business was re-assigning Guillaume Brisebois to Laval a week ago Friday. The defenceman hadn’t played any games and apparently wanted to go to Laval which is thinner on the blueline that Manitoba, so it was also a chance to play bigger minutes — and speak French to boot.

That created a spot on the taxi squad, at the very least.

Of course, there have been injuries since, with Loui Eriksson moving to the NHL roster on Saturday to fill in for Roussel, who I’m pretty sure was injured in a hit by Montreal’s Alex Romanov midway through the first period on Wednesday.

Eriksson’s recall, by the way, is an emergency loan meaning his full salary doesn’t apply to the team’s cap while Roussel and Beagle are out, just the reduced amount he carries because being assigned to the taxi squad in 2020-21 is considered the same as an outright demotion to an AHL team. When either returns to health, Eriksson will be returned to the taxi squad and his cap hit will remain its reduced figure.

It also means his days on the NHL roster don’t count towards his waivers clock, not that anyone is claiming him if he were to be waived again.

Graovac has been cleared to join the Canucks on their upcoming road trip, but still needs to clear through a practice symptom free before being cleared to play in games.

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The lanky centre scored two power play goals in nine games for the Canucks last season, but broke his foot in early December and was on the shelf until late February. He only dressed in three more games on the season — for Utica — before the season was halted March 12.

Under the league’s quarantine protocol, he’s allowed to leave his accommodation to see medical staff, so that’s how he would have been able clear each step of the return-to-play protocol, including what must have been some sort of workout with game-like conditions.

He cleared his isolation on Saturday, hence his re-assignment to the taxi squad.

As players start to return to the lineup, other moves seem likely. Who might get farmed out next? Brogan Rafferty/? Jayce Hawryluk? Ashton Sautner/

pjohnston@postmedia.com

twitter.com/risingaction

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