Gallagher: Eddie Lack’s stats aren’t the true story
A lack of support from the players in front of him have impacted his effectiveness
There are a lot of bizarre observations being made about the Vancouver Canucks these days that really don’t stand up to any sort of examination.
It’s certainly true that Eddie Lack has given up a ton of goals since he took over for Roberto Luongo when the former No. 1 goalie finally got his one and only wish — which was to be traded only to Florida, where his wife could be with her family and he could pocket well over $4 million extra in take-home pay over the course of his contract, because there is no state tax.
Of course, he never told anyone he wanted to go only to what was essentially a bankrupt team for most of the time he was asking to be moved, as it might have made him look like a guy who didn’t want to compete any more and cared only about off-ice issues. But we digress.
So why is it that Lack looked great as a backup but now is being riddled statistically, despite the fact he’s still making a lot of terrific saves? If you looked at Tuesday night’s game for some answers you might find them.
How many breakaways did this team give up? How many two-on-ones did they surrender by this system which essentially insists on the D pinching often when they don’t have the slightest hope of keeping the puck in the zone?
At this point in the season, you have one of the best group of defencemen in the league playing as though they were brain-dead. And we all know they’re not, because we’ve all seen them play like stars at some stage. They simply don’t know what to do.
When they get the puck in their own zone, there is nobody to give it to, as the forwards are largely standing still. In the offensive zone, it’s pinch and pressure, pinch and pressure until you give up a two-on-one or at three-on-two. Then you are treated to a constant show of the one guy back having to swim on the ice like Michael Phelps to try to break up the odd-man rush. On the 3-on-2, the pair is left to fend for itself as the backside pressure doesn’t materialize.
How much run support has Lack had? How much has he or Luongo had since the season turned around in early January, which is to reference the fight-filled game in Los Angeles where they lost 1-0 and everyone thought it was a moral victory, including your agent.
Sure, that was the time they began to play difficult opponents, but it was also the time that it became obvious to the players that what was valued by the coaches on this team — blood and guts and fighting, even from the coaches themselves when they felt it was required.
The players quickly realized they weren’t built to play that way and they weren’t going to get killed trying to show they were. They followed up the so-called moral victory with the 9-1 mess in Anaheim, and this team essentially hasn’t been heard from since.
The aspersions are being cast on Lack despite the fact he’s played 17 consecutive games, Jacob Markstrom being treated as if he was some sort of practice goalie they dragged out of the stands. Hell, Strombone1 certainly knew what was coming when he tweeted: “Pray for Eddie.”
At the very least, it’s way too early to jump to any conclusions about Lack, other than positives. If he’d had even a modicum of run support as a backup he would have been a big winner in terms of wins and losses. Had he had the goals-for production that this team used to enjoy when they had a power play and the back end was in a system which played to their strengths, he might well be a Calder candidate — starter or backup. As it is now, he’s a giant question mark going into this summer, and the question isn’t “is he good enough to be a starter?”
Obviously, one of the best goalie coaches in the game in Rollie Melanson had already determined the answer to that question when Luongo finally got his one and only wish. And he’s the guy they trust on goaltending.
The question he now faces is, “Has this strange rookie year experience rocked his confidence to the point where it will seriously impact his career, or will he be able to realize what happened and come back stronger for it?”
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