Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Silovs or DeSmith — Canucks playing coy on Game 5 starter

Vancouver Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet would not confirm whether Arturs Silovs or Casey DeSmith will start Game 5 on Tuesday night.
The Vancouver Canucks would not confirm if Arturs Silovs would start in Tuesday's Game 5 against the Nashville Predators.

The Vancouver Canucks have wins from three different goaltenders in their first-round series against the Nashville Predators.

At the very least, they won't be making it four different goaltenders in Game 5. Both Game 4's starter Arturs Silovs and the injured Casey DeSmith were on the ice for Tuesday's morning skate but it wasn't exactly clear which goaltender would be starting the game.

According to multiple reports, Silovs will get the call for the Canucks as they look to end the series and send the Predators packing. The rookie goaltender made 27 saves on 30 shots in Game 4 in Nashville, keeping the Canucks in the game until their epic last-minute comeback. He looked calm and poised — not letting the moment overwhelm him — and made some big saves in key moments.

On the ice on Tuesday morning, however, DeSmith was in the net typically occupied by the starting goaltender and doing the drills typically done by the starting goaltender. 

At the end of the morning skate, goaltending coach Ian Clark spoke to Silovs, a conversation he usually has with the starting goaltender. But then he also went and had a conversation with DeSmith, something he doesn't normally do with the backup. The starting goaltender is typically the first to leave the ice after morning skate but when it came to that time, both goaltenders lingered by the bench, while head coach Rick Tocchet came back out and spoke with Clark, the goaltenders, and a trainer.

Silovs was the first to leave the ice but DeSmith followed immediately after. In other words, there was evidence for both Silovs and DeSmith being the potential starting goaltender.

Tocchet was no help when asked directly after practice.

"Game-time [decision]," said Tocchet, then he smiled apologetically. "I usually tell you guys but this playoff stuff, I was told it's game-time."

There is potentially some advantage to holding your cards close to your vest buttons in the playoffs. DeSmith and Silovs are two very different goaltenders, even if both have absorbed Clark's coaching. Not knowing which goaltender will start might make a difference for how the Predators prepare for Game 5.

Toccher did answer further questions about the goaltending situation, at least. With DeSmith missing Game 4 with an injury, Tocchet was asked whether his decision on a starter would be based on health or performance. He said it was both.

"You look at where that person is injury-wise — you talk to the doctor, you talk to the trainer, and then you talk to him," said Tocchet. "It has to be a three-way conversation and then you make your decision."

DeSmith is healthy enough, at least, to be back on the ice and in the lineup for the Canucks, even if it's up in the air whether he'll start or not.

"I'll put it this way: Casey had a good day yesterday," said Tocchet. "I would foresee that if he did not play, he would be the backup."

So, the Canucks' two goaltenders in the lineup on Tuesday night will be Silovs and DeSmith. It just remains to be seen which one will be on the ice and which one will be on the bench.

All that said, this is not a decision the Canucks would make on game day. After Sunday's win, Silovs said that he was informed he was starting Game 4 the night before, giving him time to process the decision and prepare himself to make the start. In all likelihood, Tocchet and the Canucks decided on Monday who would start Game 5.

Fans will just have to wait and see who it is when the Canucks take to the ice Tuesday night.