Lack hopes he can be more of an equal partner next season

 

 
 
 
 
Canucks Luca Sbisa (left), Chris Tanev and Eddie Lack  talk to the media in Vancouver on April 27, 2015.
 

Canucks Luca Sbisa (left), Chris Tanev and Eddie Lack talk to the media in Vancouver on April 27, 2015.

Photograph by: Wayne Leidenfrost, PNG

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VANCOUVER - It was a forlorn Eddie Lack who last week described himself this way: “Average goalie, crowd favourite.”

Lack was feeling a little down in the dumps following the morning game-day skate at Rogers Arena last Thursday morning. He had been pulled after one period in Game 4 and knew that Ryan Miller would be starting that night in Game 5 against the Calgary Flames.

He was half-joking and smiling -- he’s nearly always smiling -- when he made the remark to a couple of reporters, but Lack’s season didn’t finish the way he would have liked.

Given a few days to reflect, however, Lack is feeling better about things.

“I am pretty proud of what I accomplished,” he said as the Canuck players met with the media for the last time on Monday. “The hard work (last) summer paid off for me. It was a good year for me. Obviously, the ending wasn’t as good as I expected, but I’m pretty happy with my season.”

There will be inevitable changes to the Canucks roster over the summer, but probably not in goal. Miller and Lack will likely both be back and given Lack’s solid play down the stretch, it should be more of an equitable partnership than it was when both were healthy this past season.

Lack has proven he can handle a bigger workload and deserves better than the one start every week or 10 days he was getting for much of the season.

“I feel like I proved I can play a lot of games in a short period of time,” he said. “But that’s not really up to me, either. I have always tried to do my best and it’s up to the coaches to put me out there when they feel it is suitable. Obviously, I want to play. Everyone wants to play.”

Lack and Miller had similar numbers this season. Lack had a slight edge in both save percentage (.921 vs. .911) and goals-against average (2.45 vs. 2.53), but Miller had a better winning percentage and registered six shutouts to Lack’s two.

Miller said it’s too early to think about next year, although he made a point of stressing that he and Lack have a good partnership.

“I am not really looking too far ahead,” Miller said Monday. “I think Eddie did a great job. I think he is a quality goaltender. I knew that coming into the situation and we talked before the season about how important it was for both of us to support each other and to cheer for each other.

“Both of us have to contribute and it’s going to have to be at different times and different ways to make the playoffs and that really did come about where he had to carry a lot of the games late and I thought he did a great job.”

Miller said he has a long summer of work ahead as he tries to fully rehabilitate his right knee, after suffering torn ligaments on Feb. 22.

“I need to get the muscles strong in that area,” Miller said. “I have to get them back to being as quick-firing as they were before the injury.”

Miller is encouraged by the fact that when he suffered a high-ankle sprain late one season he was able to spend the summer “re-teaching it how to work” and had a strong season the following year.

Miller has two years left on his contract that pays him $6 million a season. Lack is signed for one more year at $1.3 million ($1.15 million salary cap hit).

Asked if he is looking for a contract extension, Lack made it clear he’d prefer to remain a Canuck.

“I have no idea what is going to happen during the summer, but obviously I really love it here,” Lack said. “This feels like home. I have only played two years up here, but I have played for this organization for five years now and this is where I always picture myself playing in the NHL. So I definitely want to stay, but it’s not up to me. If they want me here, I’ll stay.”

If the fans could vote, they’d undoubtedly want him to stay, too.

Lack likely still has the chants of “Eddie, Eddie, Eddie” ringing in his ears. He heard them both at Rogers Arena and also at the Scotiabank Saddledome, where Flames fans tried to get under his skin.

Lack has made a real connection with Canuck fans, something he had trouble explaining on Monday.

“I have no idea” he said. “It is kind of like I said before. It kind of started in the minors, I don’t really have an explanation for it. I have always loved playing here.”

Defeceman Chris Tanev then offered his one-word reason for Lack’s popularity.

“Twitter,” Tanev said with a smile.”It’s something I don’t have, but he definitely uses.”

Lack has 108,000 followers on Twitter.

bziemer@vancouversun.com; twitter.com/bradziemer

 
 
 
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Canucks Luca Sbisa (left), Chris Tanev and Eddie Lack  talk to the media in Vancouver on April 27, 2015.
 

Canucks Luca Sbisa (left), Chris Tanev and Eddie Lack talk to the media in Vancouver on April 27, 2015.

Photograph by: Wayne Leidenfrost, PNG

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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