Struggling Vancouver Canucks hit by more injuries with Ekman-Larsson, Lazar out
VANCOUVER — Another spate of injuries is plaguing the Vancouver Canucks.
Head coach Rick Tocchet said Saturday defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson will be out for "some weeks" after suffering an ankle sprain in Vancouver's 6-4 loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
The 31-year-old Swede has struggled this season, registering two goals and 20 assists in 54 games.
Forward Curtis Lazar also left Wednesday's game with a lower-body injury and is "day to day," Tocchet said. Lazar did not take part in morning skate ahead of the Canucks' home matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.
Also missing from the morning session was star goalie Thatcher Demko, who has been out since Dec. 1 when he suffered a groin injury in a 5-1 loss to the Florida Panthers.
Demko has steadily been working his way back into game shape and said Tuesday he was looking forward to backing up against the Flyers.
“For me, it’s kind of a situation where you're probably never going to be fully confident to come back, no matter if I took a year to get ready," he said. "There's always going to be a little bit of nerves there, and making sure that you're trusting the process. There's obviously scar tissue in the injury but there's also mental scar tissue when it comes to getting back out there.
"So, breaking that down, obviously it helps getting in some teams skates and getting some more chaotic looks and things like that. But overall, just really excited to be back.”
The 27-year-old netminder left Vancouver's practice Thursday after just 30 minutes, prompting speculation he had suffered a setback in his recovery.
Saturday was a "maintenance day" for Demko, who had skated five or six days in a row, Tocchet said.
"We kind of worked him pretty good and I just think it's good to give him another day," the coach said.
Vancouver also placed defenceman Travis Dermott on injured reserve Saturday and recalled blueliner Christian Wolanin from the American Hockey League's Abbotsford Canucks.
Dermott, 26, has played just 11 games this season after sustaining a head injury in a pre-season practice. He last appeared in Vancouver's 6-1 loss to the Seattle Kraken on Jan. 25.
Wolanin has six goals and 49 assists in 49 AHL games this season.
The 27-year-old defenceman has played parts of seven NHL campaigns with the Ottawa Senators, L.A. Kings and Buffalo Sabres, but has yet to make an appearance for the Canucks.
"I think it'll take obviously a couple shifts to be readjusted to this level of play. But I'm confident my abilities," Wolanin said Saturday. "I think I was down (in the AHL) for long enough and got confidence my game again and got repetition."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 18, 2023.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press