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You probably already know the (fairly massive) news: Thatcher Demko will be starting tonight’s win-or-go-home Game 5 meeting with the Vegas Golden Knights.
With an apparent sore groin, the Canucks’ regular season MVP (and postseason star, minus Game 4) Jacob Markstrom will reportedly be sitting out tonight’s contest while the rookie Demko takes the reins.
It’s a huge switch, easily the biggest one the Canucks could have reasonably made. But there might be some more surprises coming tonight as coach Travis Green desperately tries to sneak out a win after two straight losses to the powerhouse Golden Knights.
Green wasn’t giving away any changes: “Tune into the game to find out” was his answer when asked about Markstrom.
Here are a few swaps the coach might be considering tonight (keep in mind we’re not advocating for them personally).
Zack MacEwen in for Jake Virtanen
Green has shown that he likely isn’t going to move Brandon Sutter or Jay Beagle out of the lineup, even if they often get battered at even strength. Virtanen played decently in a top six role in Game 4 but wasn’t able to put away a couple of good chances.
There’s also the Ryan Reaves Narrative, in which the Vegas forward has been able to do essentially whatever he’s wanted on the ice. Having a big presence like MacEwen in the lineup might dissuade that. Of course, if you’re letting Reaves dictate lineup decisions, he’s already won.
Loui Eriksson in for Adam Gaudette
Does the $6 million dollar man get back into the lineup? He hasn’t played against Vegas since being very much middle of the road (what else would you expect?) in Game 1. But with Gaudette seeming to struggle in these playoffs it wouldn’t be shocking to see Green lock Sutter in as the third-line centre and bring in the experienced Eriksson.
Would it be a bit of a bummer? Yes, Eriksson plays no-event hockey and even though we haven’t seen them of late, a Gaudette goal celebration in Game 5 would be epic. But the veteran might be able to help the Canucks’ lock it down defensively in front of Demko.
Jordie Benn in for Tyler Myers
This almost definitely won’t happen. But it’s at least worth mentioning given how it seemed Myers may have come back too early from a shoulder injury. Despite the tweets of a certain radio show host, Myers was not good in his Game 4 return, getting walled in according to possession metrics and losing his assignment on the Knights’ fifth goal.
It’s not as if Benn has been much better though, and Myers did play 22 minutes in Game 4. He’s likely not coming out unless he has an injury setback of sorts.
Make sure to call me out on Twitter when none of these things end up happening.