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Demko closer, Lekkerimaki possible as Canucks consider roster moves

Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet said Thatcher Demko has “improved tremendously over the last 72 hours” as the star goalie recovers from a lower-body injury.

The 28-year-old started Vancouver’s first playoff game against the Nashville Predators, but has not suited up since.

Vancouver turned to rookie third-line Arturs Silovs in the playoffs after backup Casey DeSmith was injured in Game 3 against the Predators.

Silovs, who is 4-3 in the playoffs with a .907 save percentage and 2.71 goals-against average, led the Canucks to a victory in this series and was solid against the Oilers in the second round.

This game is tied 2-2 after Edmonton’s 3-2 win at home on Tuesday. Game 5 of the best-of-seven showdown takes place Thursday in Vancouver.

Tocchet, who is considering roster changes after destroying part of his team’s Game 5 effort, did not commit to Demko playing against the Oilers, but told reporters Wednesday that the finalist in the Vezina Trophy had made “great progress” in recent days.

Tocchet wasn’t happy with the performance of “five or six guys” — including star center Elias Pettersson — following Tuesday’s loss that tied the Pacific Division game.

And the Canucks’ top prospect could be the beneficiary.

Tocchet didn’t dismiss the idea that Swedish winger Jonathan Lekkerimaki could be an option Thursday for what would be his NHL debut.

“I swing the bat. I’m not afraid,” Tocchet said. “I don’t know much about him…you need to get your information.”

Selected with the 15th pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, the 19-year-old has 19 goals and 32 points in 49 combined games with Orebro HK of the Swedish Premier League this season.

Lekkerimaki also scored seven times and added three assists at home at the 2024 World Junior Hockey Championship to earn MVP honors as part of his country’s silver medal run.

He got his first taste of North American professional hockey during a six-game stint with the AHL’s Abbotsford Canucks in late March and early April, during which he recorded a goal and an assist.

The five-foot, 11-inch forward returned to Sweden last month hoping to make his country’s world championship roster, but he was among the last cut.

Lekkerimaki’s last competitive match was on April 7.

“If we think as an organization he’s (ready), I have no problem,” Tocchet said. “I’m not afraid to recruit someone. When you are about to achieve something, which is to say try to move on to the next round, you do anything. It’s like that.

“You can’t play it safe if you want to win. We have to go. »

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