VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks should try to get into Thatcher Demko's head. Not serious. Hockey is much simpler there.
The prospect has anointed the future goalkeeper of the franchise since the day he was called up in 2014 should finally have a chance this weekend, probably on Friday night against the Buffalo Sabers, to start a game like a National Hockey League rather than a tourist. the smaller ones on a day trip.
As this seminal moment of his life approaches, the 22-year-old from San Diego and Boston College feels, well, calm.
Demko is finishing a course in applied psychology (with a major in philosophy) and now we know what he is applying to this psychology.
"I think pressure is an invented thing," he said on Thursday after his umpteenth practice since the Canucks traded Anders Nilsson for Ottawa on Jan. 2 and promoted Demko to Utica Comets. "Everyone likes to talk about it, but you can not really tell what it is. It is up to the subject to determine whether they feel pressured or not. I do not feel pressure; I'm very excited to start this new chapter for me. "
We could all use some of Demko's Zen, especially the Canucks.
Still without bright rookie Elias Pettersson, who missed out for two weeks with a knee injury, Vancouver also got ready on Thursday for the chance to play without its other star, Bo Horvat. The Canucks' leader suffered a thigh injury when he was hit by Zack Kassian at the end of the 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.
The team was worried enough to call the American Hockey League's Tanner Kero center, although Canucks coach Travis Green told reporters he expected Horvat to play on Friday.
Pettersson, however, will not. He has been back on the ice for a week, but has not yet participated in a full contact practice with the Canucks. The sensational Swede can play Sunday against the Detroit Red Wings, or wait until the end of Wednesday's game against Carolina.
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Demko is set to make his debut this weekend, despite Jacob Markstrom's best start to the season, who has halted 28 of the 30 Oilers pitchers on Wednesday and is 10-3-2 since November.
The Canucks have a slight twist on the Rogers Arena between Friday night's game and Sunday matinee, and the technical team wants to find a start for Demko before the nine-day Vancouver break at the end of the month. No one thinks it's a good idea to have Demko wait until February to play.
His only game in the NHL was on March 31, when he stopped 25 of the first 26 shots he faced before giving up three goals at the end of the third quarter, which ended up being a 5-4 win over Columbus.
The game, requested by Demko through his agent, because he wanted to know before this season as it was the NHL, was awarded as a reward for the excellent goalkeeper AHL campaign (0.922 economy and 25-13-4). It was also a reflection of its importance for the future of the Canucks.
"The circumstances were a bit different last year, just coming in and being thrown on fire, so to speak," Demko said. "This year, I feel like I'm a lot more of the team. Obviously, I'm standing (in the NHL) a little bit now, instead of arriving from Utica at 2:30 in the morning, shaking hands with guys and going out for warm-up I am comfortable in the room, even comfortable around the city.
No, it will be very soon for Demko.
"He always seems calm and controlled," Green said. "Do you like it. (Mas) I also think he has a very high competitive advantage for him, much like Marky. Maybe not so outgoing with this, but there is a fire that burns very hard inside him and I think he has the mental makeup to be a goalkeeper in the NHL. "
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Green has the advantage of having trained Markstrom and Demko in the AHL before the bank chief was promoted by Canucks before last season.
"I liked him the first day," Green said of Demko. "I like your focus, your commitment, wanting to improve. But I'll never sit here and say that this guy is a genuine beginner. I would not say that about any player. You have to go out and do it still, and it does not make sense to put that kind of word out there about a player.
"I think he has the ability to be a very good goalkeeper in the NHL. I thought from the first day I saw him. If we did not feel it was time for him to be in the NHL, then he would not be here. "
Green said he does not need to put any more pressure on Demko than what the second round puts on himself. But the goalkeeper, of course, does not believe in pressure.
"I had to learn this (mentality) for sure," he said. "I definitely felt a lot of pressure during my teenage years. You mature and when you step back and look at it, it's much easier to put things in perspective. Maybe it's a good reason to play 2-1 / 2 years in the American League – to learn by this time, so I'm not getting excited. "