Realistically, it’s not too late for the Vancouver Canucks to still turn their season around. Coming into tonight, the team has 35 points through 34 games, out of the playoffs, but not so far that they can’t make the jump. If they want to do that though, one thing they’ll need is a healthy Thatcher Demko, and the sooner, the better with that. Demko was injured back on December 1st and originally the Canucks projected a six-week absence for their goaltender. But, that no longer seems likely, writes Patrick Johnston of The Province.
Johnston had a chance to speak with Vancouver head coach Bruce Boudreau, who discussed Demko’s return “I’m hoping that’s within the next month,” Boudreau said, “We have that big break coming (in late January), it might be right after that” he added. The Canucks will have a long break around the All Star Game, playing their last game on January 27th before picking things back up on February 6th. Also from Johnston, forward Tanner Pearson, who had hand surgery on November 10th and was originally projected to miss four-to-six weeks, has been skating and might make Vancouver’s mid-January road trip, which begins in Winnipeg on January 8th.
- The Montreal Canadiens provided some medical updates this afternoon. Of note, forward Sean Monahan, who has been out since December 5th with a lower-body injury, is progressing well and skated today for the first time since the injury. The first-year Canadien had been enjoying a strong bounce-back season with 17 points in his first 25 games. Getting Monahan back in the lineup will not only be good for Montreal’s own performance, but the three-time 30-goal scorer could fetch a relatively significant haul at the trade deadline, just months after Montreal acquired him along with a first-round pick from the Calgary Flames for salary cap purposes. Veteran forward Paul Byron, who has yet to play this season while dealing with hip surgery is still yet to skate, but is making progress, albeit slowly, off the ice. Byron, 33, is in the last year of a four-year, $13.6MM deal.
- After a difficult outing last night against the Ottawa Senators, Tomas Nosek’s absence from tonight’s lineup would seem like a healthy scratch as a simple response to his play, but that’s not necessarily the case according to Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery. As Montgomery tells Boston Hockey Now’s Joe Haggerty, “It’s maintenance. It’s nothing serious, but we just didn’t want him playing in the back-to-back [games].” That strategy is sensible, and one Montgomery actually deployed earlier this season when Brad Marchand came back from injury. However, tonight is the first game Nosek has missed all season, which has included a few back-to-backs, and there’s been no news thus far of on any injury. Through 34 games, Nosek has three goals and four assists to go along with a stellar 58.3% faceoff percentage and steady penalty kill work. If Nosek’s absence is in any way performance related, it’s interesting to note Boston’s trust of Nosek thus far this season, giving 92.8% of his starts in the defensive zone.