Report: Canucks’ Ryan Miller won’t start skating until early April; will not return before playoffs

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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. 

  • Waffles

    Although I’m not as hard on Miller as the rest of CanucksArmy, I’m happy that Lack is getting the opportunity to run with the #1 spot and will get the start in the playoffs. Lack not only deserves it, but he has earned it.

  • If Miller isn’t back til the playoffs start I wouldn’t be comfortable starting him over Lack at all come playoff time. He would be totally rusty. We will need superb goaltending to get into the playoffs, and even better goaltending to do some damage in the playoffs. I’m not sure I have the total confidence in Eddie yet. But he has been amazing since the Miller injury. I sure hope he can keep it up. If he does get us into the playoffs then it might be enough to get him the confidence from Canuck brass that Eddie could be our guy going forward. I really want as a Canuck fan and I really want for the organization that Eddie proves he is a capable number 1 guy. If this team can get consistant, above average quality goaltending our rebuild on the fly could be so much less painful.

  • Waffles

    Canucks will have to start Markstrom soon or they could risk burning out Lack down the stretch. Eddie could even get injured if he’s carrying the load alone – much like last year.

    I’m thinking Markstrom should start against CBJ tomorrow.

  • Vanoxy

    Canucks will have to start Markstrom soon or they could risk burning out Lack down the stretch. Eddie could even get injured if he’s carrying the load alone – much like last year.

    I’m thinking Markstrom should start against CBJ tomorrow.

  • Ruprecht

    It’s too bad for Miller. If he’s not skating then he’s a long way from game shape. It’s at a point of year where we can’t afford to let him play his timing back. I agree Lack has earned it, but Miller has also paid his dues and deserves a shot at some point somewhere. Just a nasty year for injuries in every position.

    Markstrom needs to play. Especially if we’re riding Eddie into the playoffs. More so because he needs to ready for the intensity of these games should an injury or sickness arise. The sooner the better factoring in where we are in the standings, and schedule.

  • Waffles

    How about starting Markstrom vs. the Kings? No pressure to win, since the Nucks won’t win anyway, and ideally you have different starters for the back-to-back. Better have Lack for the winnable games.

    I guess the argument against is if Markstrom gets shel-lacked badly and Lack has to step in, it won’t be much of a rest, which is true. But that’s also the case if Markstrom is bad against Phoenix of Glendale. So I say go for it.

    • Ragnarok Ouroboros

      I was thinking Markstrom should play against Kings too. My reasoning is that the Canucks struggle to generate goals against the Kings, and the Kings don’t score many goals anyways.

      The onus is more on the forwards to win the game then goaltending. I don’t think Canucks will win against Kings either, so the Canucks may as well rest Lack for the next game.

  • Vanoxy

    I’d start Lack against CBJ, since he’s been hot.
    If he plays strong then start him against LA, and Markstrom against AZ.
    If Lack is mediocre against Columbus, then throw Markstrom in against LA and hope he comes out on a mission and catches fire against our Nemesis.

    I have a feeling Markstrom was humbled last time and he will step up his game next time. Maybe we will be on the right side of a third-stringer-shutout for a change.

  • Ruprecht

    If it’s true that Miller won’t be able to play any games before the playoffs….

    Eddie is the man! Don’t care his much Miller is making or if he is a coach/GM fav…. Playoffs are no place to work out kinks

  • WTF2

    This worries me…..

    Miller is magically “ready to go” when the playoffs start and Willie throws him in ice cold and rusty and he completely $hits the bed…..

    Hopefully Willie has enough sense to continue playing Lack into the playoffs and relegates Miller to back-up.