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Report: Thatcher Demko expected to be out 6 weeks for Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks' number-one goaltender will be out for a while but not quite as long as feared.
Thatcher Demko suffered an injury during the first period of the Vancouver Canucks' game against the Florida Panthers on Thursday.

The sight of Thatcher Demko lying facedown on the ice, clutching at the back of his right leg, was a chilling one for Vancouver Canucks fans.

The Canucks' number-one goaltender left Thursday's game against the Florida Panthers in the first period after suffering an apparent leg injury during a series of tough saves. 

According to a report from Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, Demko won't be back soon but he also won't miss as much time as some might have feared. 

Demko is expected to miss approximately six weeks of action rehabbing from the lower-body injury, which suggests that the injury does not require surgery. That's the positive side of the news for Demko and the Canucks.

The negative side is that missing six weeks would still mean missing approximately 17 games. That's a significant chunk of the season for a team to be missing their star goaltender, even if he hasn't quite played at peak of his abilities this season

With Demko out, the Canucks will have to rely heavily on backup Spencer Martin, who has performed well this season but has never been tested with a starter's load at the NHL level.

After Thursday's game, head coach Bruce Boudreau was asked about potentially needing to depend on Martin for a longer stretch of games.

"We've got a lot of confidence in him," said Boudreau. "He's played great for us."

Boudreau had already given Martin some consecutive starts while Demko was trying to find his game. Now the team will have no choice but getting some extra starts early in the season might have helped prepare Martin for this moment.

"I've been getting some reps already, getting some minutes to start the year," said Martin. "If the minutes do go up, I feel like I'm ready."

"When I'm in the net, I don't play the game any differently depending on what my role is on the team," he added. "I just try to win that game."

Backing up Martin will be journeyman goaltender Collin Delia, who was recalled from the Abbotsford Canucks under emergency conditions. Delia spent the last five seasons in the Chicago Blackhawks organization and has played 32 NHL games in his career, with a .904 save percentage.

Delia has an .884 save percentage in eight starts in Abbotsford this season.

"This is a great challenge for me to step into a slightly different role," said Delia. "Support the team in a different way. Play big when I'm in there. That's what I'm here for — prepared at all times."