Who's this guy?
Born: January 5, 1988 in Norrtälje, Sweden.
History: After going unselected in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Lack was signed to a two-year entry level contract by the Canucks in 2010. Made his NHL debut on October 5, 2013 in a 5-4 overtime win against the Calgary Flames
What'd he do?
After three years in the NHL, Lack was named Roberto Luongo's backup for the 2013-2014 season. Nobody, probably Lack included, expected him to be in that role when Corey Schneider was still in town, but when Schneider was dealt in last year's draft, it was Lack's time to step up.
This season, Lack played in 41 games, posting a 16-17-5 overall record with a goals against average of 2.41 and a save percentage of .912. He had a successful start to the year with a 7-2-1 record in his first 10 games he recorded a decision. Lack's goals against average during those games was stellar at just 1.8.
Then there was the drama of the Winter Classic when Lack was named the starting goalie over Roberto Luongo. That didn't sit well with fans, who were quite vocal in letting John Tortorella know how they felt about the move. Tortorella defended his decision afterwards, saying the way Lack had been playing, he provided the best chance to get the team two points. In the 12 games prior to the Winter Classic, Lack posted just two wins and had a stretch of five consecutive losses. The numbers can be a little deceptive however because when you look closer at the losses, his GAA was 2.25. Give Lack a team with the scoring abilities of the Ducks or Blackhawks this season, and I believe you have one of the more reliable goalies in the game.
So was he any good?
Considering what little support the Canucks gave him offensively, I think Lack did quite well for his first year in the league, especially when you factor in having to deal with all the drama surrounding Luongo. Lack delivered four shutouts for the Canucks, good enough for 11th in the league. He ranked just a couple spots behind Roberto Luongo in GAA at 2.41 (33rd in NHL). I can't stress enough how much the Canucks offense screwed Lack this year. Next season, Lack won't have to deal with the drama of Lu like he did this year, so I think we'll see nothing but improvements.
What did we like?
Goalies are weird folks, so rather than highlights, I present you with the lighter side of Eddie Lack.
Cool. So what did we hate?
First and foremost, I hated how Lack had to get sucked into the middle of yet another Vancouver goalie controversy. It was a sticky situation to be in, especially during his first year in the league. When I was looking at his numbers this year, one opponent stuck out to me, and that was the Anaheim Ducks. The once lovable Disney team completely owned Lack and the Canucks this year, as Lack posted an 0-4-1 record, giving up 17 goals in those losses for a GAA of 3.40. Sheesh. Yes, it's asking a lot for the rookie to shut down one of the league's most lethal offensive teams, but I'm pretty sure the only person with a worse GAA against a single team was Greg Goldberg against team Iceland in the second Mighty Ducks movie. Lack struggled in the last month of the season, giving up at least four goals five times in Vancouver's final 15 games. Yes, he did have four shutouts in half a year's worth of games, but he seemed to get torched a little too often for my liking. My wishful thinking suggests it's just growing pains.
So what now?
Lack has two years left on his contract and will be owed $1.5 million each season. Lu is gone, Schneider is gone, and Markstrom isn't much more than an extra body on the bench. With all the drama in the rear view mirror, the starting job has Lack's name written all over it. Now that he has some experience being that number one guy, we should see continued growth from the young Swede. We'll be able to have a much more complete grasp on Lack after a full season as the starter, and if he can get a little goal support, he could have himself a nice season in 2014-15.