Thatcher Demko

Associated Press

Canucks hang rookie DiPietro out to dry in NHL debut


You’d think the Vancouver Canucks would want to give their rookie netminder — making his NHL debut at the tender age of 19 — a fighting chance.

You’d think.

Instead, Michael DiPietro was the victim of a brutal effort by his teammates in front of him against the San Jose Sharks on Monday night.

The Sharks scored on their first shot of the game and had goals inside their first four shots. And it only got worse from there.

Six goals were scored on DiPietro in the first 40 minutes of the game, including three on five second-period shots. And if you watch all six of the goals scored against him, you’d be hard-pressed to find one that couldn’t have been prevented by better play.

Here’s one example:

Here’s another of Canucks defensemen Ben Hutton scoring on DiPietro:

DiPietro was thrust into action after Jakob Markstrom was pulled from his scheduled start due to tightness in his lower-body.

DiPietro was called up from Ottawa of the Ontario Hockey League on an emergency basis a week ago after Thatcher Demko went down injured.

The Canucks let DiPietro take his first few strides alone on the ice during the warmup. Who knew it would be a foreshadowing of things to come.

He’d go on to allow seven goals on 24 shots in a 7-2 loss.

Welcome to the NHL, indeed.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Canucks defenseman Edler sidelined by concussion


By Stephen Whyno (AP Hockey Writer)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler avoided long-term injury from hitting his head on the ice but will be out at least a week with a concussion.

Coach Travis Green said Tuesday that X-rays revealed no facial fractures. Edler was released from the hospital and headed back to Vancouver.

Edler will miss at least three games, but the Canucks are glad it wasn’t worse.

”Obviously a scary incident,” Green said. ”Medical staff I thought did a great job getting out there as quick as they did, and we’re thankful that he’s going to be all right.”

Edler’s skate got caught in the stick of Flyers winger Jakub Voracek in the first period Monday night, causing him to lose his balance and slam into the ice. Edler lay motionless on the ice before being wheeled off on a stretcher.

The 32-year-old Swede leads the Canucks in ice time and has 20 points in 38 games this season.

”You don’t want to lose your top guys,” Green said before facing the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals. ”He’s a big part of our team. It’s what it is. Teams face injuries a lot. He’s one of our best players on our team. He’s a good player.”

Rookie goaltender Thatcher Demko was injured in warmups Monday, forcing Jacob Markstrom to make back-to-back starts. Green said Demko was returning to Vancouver to have an MRI on one of his knees.

The Canucks recalled defenseman Guillaume Brisebois and junior goalie Mike DiPietro before facing the Capitals. Green figures DiPietro will be with the team through its game at Chicago on Thursday.

Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at

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Goaltending was a rare bright spot for Vancouver last season


This post is part of Canucks Day on PHT…

The Vancouver Canucks finished with the third-worst record in the NHL last season, and there were a lot of reasons why.

Goaltending was not one of them.

In fact, on a lot of nights, if not for Ryan Miller or Jacob Markstrom, things could’ve been a lot worse. Miller finished the season with a .916 save percentage; Markstrom’s was .915. The way the undermanned Canucks defended at times, those numbers were more than acceptable. Only the Ottawa Senators allowed more shots per game (32.8) than Vancouver (32.5).

Markstrom’s performance was an especially pleasant surprise for the Canucks, who’d made the decision to trade fan favorite Eddie Lack to Carolina during the previous offseason. Markstrom was coming off an excellent 2014-15 campaign in the AHL, but had yet to prove he could play in the NHL. He’d cleared waivers on his way to Utica, a sign of how far his stock had fallen since his days as a top prospect with the Panthers.

In 2015-16, Markstrom started 30 games for the Canucks, his solid (sometimes spectacular) play earning him a three-year contract extension that has him tied to the club through 2019-20. On at least one occasion last season, he downright “stole” a game for his team.

“It was a good year for me, personally, and it was a tough year for…obviously it’s never fun to lose hockey games and last year we lost way too many of them,” Markstrom said in July. “As for right now, when I look back, I feel like last year…it felt like a tease. I can’t wait to get going and get started.”

Miller, meanwhile, just turned 36 and has one year left on his contract. It remains to be seen if Vancouver will pursue an extension. While the Canucks have an excellent prospect in Thatcher Demko, he only turned pro in April and will likely need more than one year of AHL seasoning. An important part of the future, Demko won’t be rushed into the NHL.

As for next season, the Canucks are hoping to make it a little easier for Miller and Markstrom. Injuries to key veterans like Brandon Sutter, Henrik Sedin, Alex Edler, Chris Tanev and Dan Hamhuis certainly didn’t help things last season. While Hamhuis has moved on to Dallas and may be missed, big Erik Gudbranson has been added, in large part for his crease-clearing ability.

“We’re going to play with more structure defensively this season,” said GM Jim Benning. “I feel we’ll be strong up the middle defensively. We’re hoping that cuts down on the miraculous saves.”

Because while spectacular saves are nice to watch, too many of them can be a symptom of a big problem.

Related: Canucks re-sign Bachman, a goalie to expose in the expansion draft