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Tocchet: Demko has 'improved immensely the last 72 hours'

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Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko's condition has "improved immensely the last 72 hours," head coach Rick Tocchet told reporters on Wednesday.

Demko, 28, appeared in the Canucks' 4-2 victory over the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of their first-round series, but has been out ever since with a lower-body injury.

While Tocchet told reporters that Demko's status has improved, he would not suggest that the goaltender would appear in their second-round series with the Edmonton Oilers.

Demko is a Vezina Trophy finalist this season after putting up  a 35-14-2 record during the regular season with a .918 save percentage and 2.45 goals-against average.

Arturs Silovs has taken the reins in the Canucks' net after backup goaltender Casey DeSmith sustained an undisclosed injury in Game 3 against the Predators in the first round.

The 6-foot-4 rookie netminder has 4-3 record with a 2.71 GAA and .907 save percentage in the playoffs.

Tocchet also indicated that prospect Jonathan Lekkerimaki could also make his NHL debut in the playoffs but didn't commit to the idea.

"I'm swinging the bat and I'm not scared," the Canucks coach said when asked about Lekkerimaki.

Lekkerimaki was drafted 15th overall by the Canucks in 2022 and played last season with Orebro HK of the Swedish Hockey League. He represented Sweden at the 2024 World Juniors, registering seven goals and 10 points in seven games to win a silver medal and was named tournament MVP.

The 5-foot-11 winger also appeared in six games with the AHL's Abbotsford Canucks near the end of the regular season, recording a goal and two points.

According to Tocchet, other options to enter the lineup are forwards Vasily Podkolzin and Nils Hoglander.

Podkolzin, 22, recorded two assists in only 19 games with the Canucks this season and has not appeared yet in the playoffs. He also had 15 goals and 28 points in 44 games with the AHL's Abbotsford Canucks the regular season and recorded an assist in three playoff games.

Hoglander, 23, recorded 24 goals and 36 points in 80 regular season games this season and added an assist in eight playoff games.