Photo Credit: Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports
In the likely event that the Vancouver Canucks qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Eddie Lack will reportedly be be their starting goaltender for Game 1.
Usual starter Ryan Miller, who sustained a knee injury in late February, is reportedly behind schedule in his recovery and will be unable to return prior to action before the NHL postseason, according to TSN’s Farhan Lalji.
Read on past the jump.
Lalji elaborated on his report while filling in for Blake Price on TSN 1040’s Sekeres and Price show on Wednesday afternoon.
“Now when Ryan Miller first suffered a sprained right knee… we were all told it was a four-to-six week (recovery timeline),” Lalji said. “(But last night I was told that it would be at least another three weeks before Miller even begins skating again.”
The veteran TSN reporter explained that even when Miller – who we can assume is targeting a return to the ice on April 6th or 7th – does resume on-ice workouts, he’ll still be another week or two away from getting himself into game shape.
“Barring some sort of miracle recovery by Miller, Eddie Lack will be the Canucks goaltender to start the playoffs,” Lalji said, connecting the dots, “and at that point the ball will be his to run with.”
That’s fitting since Lack has probably earned the starting job outright anyway.
Since Miler first sustained his injury on February 22nd, Lack has played in every game and has performed extraordinarily well. The affable Swedish netminder has further cemented his status as a fan favourite in Vancouver, the chants of “Eddie! Eddie!” being a regular occurrence at Rogers Arena these days, and he’s done it by nearly impossible to score on.
Including Lack’s relief appearance on Long Island, the lanky 27-year-old has posted a .934 save percentage in his last 11 games while amassing a 6-2-1 win/loss record.
This is taking nothing away from Miller, who has been decent this season. Prior to his injury the pricey summer free agent acquisition has had stretches of excellent play. Though Miller has battle inconsistency in his first season with the Canucks, overall he’s provided the club with roughly NHL-average goaltending while holding down a bona fide No. 1 starter’s workload. There’s value in that. Actually, over the course of a full season, there’s close to $6 million worth of value in that.
Lack has been better though, and even without Miller’s apparent setback, has arguably earned the starter’s job outright.
Now our attention will have to turn to recently recalled third-string goaltender Jacob Markstrom. If Lack is going to be ‘the guy’ to begin the playoffs, then it would behoove the Canucks’ coaching staff to keep him fresh.
At the moment Lack has appeared in 12 straight contests, and could presumably use a few nights off down the stretch. With Wednesday’s news, the importance of resting Lack surely takes on an additional veneer of urgency.
So is Markstrom – a bluechip AHLer who has inexplicably managed a sub-.900 save percentage in 48 career NHL appearances – reliable enough to start high-leverage games in the midst of a tooth and nail Western Conference playoff race? We’ll have to wait and see.