Canucks this week: All eyes on DeSmith and Fry-Gate hits Rogers Arena

The backup goalie is pegged as the most pivotal player, the playoff picture is clear as mud and Rogers Arena goes viral for the wrong reason

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Your weekly roundup of what they’re saying about the Vancouver Canucks around the hockey world:

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The leaguewide spotlight has shone on several Canucks this season.

Six entrants at the All-Star game will do that for a team.

But that spotlight is now burning brightest on the backup goaltender.

With Thatcher Demko down for the stretch drive, all eyes are on Casey DeSmith and his ability to navigate through this pressure-packed portion of the schedule.

According to ESPN’s latest power rankings, which has the Canucks in second overall, the backup-turned-starter was singled out as the team’s most pivotal player right now.

“A greater value will be placed on what DeSmith can provide the Canucks,” writes Ryan S. Clark. “They’ve reached a stage where they are fighting for seeding and home-ice advantage as opposed to just trying to win a wild-card spot. Still, those circumstances have made for a tight race for first place in the Western Conference standings and the Presidents’ Trophy.”

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How much the pundits actually value DeSmith is up for debate.

Casey DeSmith makes a save on Rasmus Dahlin of the Buffalo Sabres during the first period
Casey DeSmith makes a save on Rasmus Dahlin of the Buffalo Sabres during the first period on Tuesday night Photo by Derek Cain /Getty Images

Prior to the Canucks-Sabres matchup on Tuesday night, MSG commentator and former NHL goalie Martin Biron doubted whether DeSmith could help hold the fort before the hard-charging Oilers.

“I actually think the Edmonton Oilers are going to catch up to Vancouver,” said Biron, who added that if the Canucks win the Pacific Division, it’ll be because of the “cushion they’ve built.”

Canucks fans may need no reminder that Biron featured in a TSN That’s Hockey segment just a couple weeks ago that questioned if the first-place Canucks were ‘pretenders.’

The Athletic, meanwhile, conveniently dropped its goalie-tandem ratings on Tuesday, with the Demko-DeSmith pairing coming in at sixth overall.

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After a glowing review of Demko, reporter Jesse Granger writes: “The addition of DeSmith has taken some pressure off Demko. The former Penguin hasn’t been great, with a .898 save percentage and 0.74 GSAx, but he’s been a massive upgrade over Spencer Martin, who posted minus-22.72 GSAx last year (ranking 101 out of 102 NHL goalies).

Thatcher Demko, back left, congratulates Casey DeSmith (29) on his shutout during Vancouver's 2-0 win against the Minnesota Wild in December.
Thatcher Demko, back left, congratulates Casey DeSmith (29) on his shutout during Vancouver’s 2-0 win against the Minnesota Wild in December at Rogers Arena. Photo by Darryl Dyck /THE CANADIAN PRESS

Before the Canucks were the Winnipeg Jets, New York Rangers, Florida Panthers, Boston Bruins and one surprise — the St. Louis Blues, with starter Jordan Binnington having a banner year and rookie Joel Hofer equally as impressive.

Still, the focus on DeSmith’s stats — which are skewed after that Minny meltdown last month — may be missing the mark on a goalie who feels great about his game.

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“This is some of the best hockey that I feel like I’ve played in my career,” DeSmith said after Tuesday’s 3-2 win against the Sabres. “I feel really confident right now.”

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How DeSmith handles the next few games can really shape the Canucks’ short- and long-term future this season.

He’s done an admirable job so far.


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Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Adin Hill makes a save against Elias Pettersson on March 7. The Canucks won the potential playoff preview 3-1. Photo by Lucas Peltier /AP

Playoff posturing

Is it too early to be looking at potential playoff matchups?

Probably, but everyone’s still doing it.

In a TSN That’s Hockey segment on Monday, commentator Craig Button was asked if the Golden Knights — who currently hold down the second wild-card spot and would face the Canucks in the post-season if it started today — would be a bad matchup for the Canucks.

“I don’t think they are,” replied Button. “I watch the Vegas Golden Knights and we tend to think of them as … the defending Stanley Cup champions and I see a lot of fault lines right now in the Vegas Golden Knights. And I’m not even talking about the injuries, I’m talking about the way they play. They’re not as really defined, they’re not as crisp, they’re not as detailed as they were earlier this season and en route to the Stanley Cup.

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“And if they don’t find that level, I don’t even see them as a threat for the Vancouver Canucks.”

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It should be noted that the Golden Knights lost again of Tuesday — their sixth loss in their last 10 games — with the Wild also winning, closing the wild-card gap even further.

We’ll get a better sense of how Vancouver and Vegas match up in the coming weeks, with the teams set to square off twice in April.


Fry-Gate

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Vancouver often goes viral over how expensive things are around here.

You can add the price of fries at Rogers Arena to the list.

Social media account Daily Loud, which has over three million followers on X, made a post on Monday with the caption: ‘Woman was charged almost $10 ((including a 12% tax CAD) for just 15 fries at a Vancouver Canucks game.’

The post had 3.2 million views as of Tuesday. Another big X account, Dexerto, did the same thing and their post had 7.4 million views.

Most in the comments sections commiserated with the unsatisfied fan.

It also brought up a bitter discussion on food price gouging at arenas and stadiums across North America.

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Of course, some salty Canucks supporters saw the opportunity to stick it to the organization online.

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And the Canucks must have felt the heat, because at Wednesday’s game against the Sabres, the fries appeared as crisp and as bountiful as ever.

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So is going to a Canucks game really that expensive compared to other NHL teams?

It’s hard to get a grasp of the latest price of fries leaguewide, but hotdogs have certainly been charted, with the Seattle Kraken coming in first with the priciest wiener at $10.53 CAD, according to time2play.com, in a piece published in April of last year.

In terms of overall value of going to an NHL game, the Canucks were actually middle of the pack, based on data from 2022, which looked at the price of the average ticket, two beers, the cheapest hotdog and parking.

The Canucks came in at 14th overall with an average overall cost of $159.49.

Time2play.com
Time2play.com Photo by Time2play.com /Time2play.com

Of course, single game ticket prices this season have surged, since the Canucks are relevant again while season ticket prices were just released for next year, with the cheapest option coming in at $61 per game and the most expensive at more than $300, or around $15,000 for the duration of the season.

And the Rogers Arena experience will most likely be even more expensive in the future with major upgrades announced recently.

But did the Canucks deserve to be singled out for their sparse distribution of fries? Probably not.

The heat, however, may have restored some sense of order for fans who want a few more than 15 fries.

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reference: theprovince.com

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