Canucks' J.T. Miller and Thatcher Demko enter NHL COVID protocol; Spencer Martin likely to start in net against Panthers

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      The Vancouver Canucks confirmed last night (January 20) that star forward J.T. Miller and all-star goaltender Thatcher Demko have entered the NHL's COVID-19 protocal.

      The two players had tested positive before practise earlier Thursday.

      Miller and Demko join captain Bo Horvat, winger Conor Garland, and backup 'keeper Jaroslav Halak. The other three players tested positive for COVID during the Canucks' recent five-game road trip through the U.S. and remain there in isolation.

      The loss of the players means the Canucks will be without three of its top four scorers against the powerhouse Florida Panthers tonight (January 21).

      It also means that goaltender Spencer Martin, 26, might make his first start for Vancouver and only his fourth NHL start ever since being acquired by the Canucks from Tampa Bay last year.

      If he starts, Martin, who was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the third round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, would be up against the league's top offence in the Panthers.

      Martin currently plays for the Canucks' AHL affiliate in Abbotsford. where he has a respectable 5-0-2 record with a 2.24 GAA and a 0.921 save percentage.

      The 27-8-5 Panthers are coming off a 6-0 spanking of the Edmonton Oilers in Alberta last night. They meet the 18-18-3 Canucks in Vancouver tonight at 7 p.m.

      The likely backup for Spencer will be 22-year-old Michael DiPietro, drafted by the Canucks in the third round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. DiPietro was brought in from the AHL today.