Suffice to say Eddie Lack is in Bill Peters’ doghouse.
Two days after Lack allowed four goals on just 16 shots in a OT loss to Tampa Bay, the Carolina head coach — who, previously, had gone out of his way not to criticize his netminders — completely unloaded on Lack, in what made for an uncomfortable scene.
From the Raleigh News & Observer:
“Well, you’ve got to push,” Peters said. “One guy has played 10 games. Eddie has played 10 games and was poor in his last outing, let’s not kid ourselves, right? There were 16 shots, four went in. Not good enough. You look at his numbers in the league, they’re not good enough.
“So I don’t think it’s much of a competition. We’ve got a guy who’s well ahead of the other guy. That’s what I see and the numbers back that up.
“So when he gets in another game, you better play. You better earn some respect from your teammates. Your teammates are out there working their bag off. You better get some saves and a timely save at the right time wouldn’t hurt.”
Peters ended the media scrum by glancing down the hallway, in the direction of Lack’s locker stall, and saying, “Make a save.” There was another word in there but you get the idea: the coach was not happy with the player.
(Video here, minus the last “make a [expletive] save” part.)
This season’s been a borderline disaster for the 29-year-old Swede. Concussion problems have limited him to just 10 appearances, in which he’s gone 2-4-2 with a 3.33 GAA and .873 save percentage.
It’s certainly not what Carolina had in mind.
After acquiring Lack from Vancouver at the 2015 draft, the ‘Canes wasted little time in signing him to a two-year, $5.5 million extension. They actually gave Lack the deal before he played a single regular-season game for the club.
At the time, the idea was that Lack would work in tandem with Cam Ward and potentially take over the starting gig this year. But Lack failed to distinguish himself in ’15-16 — .901 save percentage, 2.81 GAA — and, as a result, GM Ron Francis opted to bring back Ward, who was set to hit free agency.
This year, Ward has been one of the NHL’s busiest workhorses. His 49 starts have him tied for seventh-most in the league.
How this situation plays out will be worth monitoring. There’s an obvious frustration level in Carolina over falling out of playoff contention, especially after a strong start in January that saw the club climb to 21-15-7, right in the thick of the wild card race.
Since then? Carolina’s gone 4-10-3.
As for Lack, one wonders if we’ll start to hear whispers about something that dogged him in Vancouver — that he didn’t take his job seriously enough. Last year, Iain Macintyre of the Vancouver Sun wrote “teammates hardly knew at times what to make of a goaltender who seemed as focused on his Twitter account off the ice as he was on stopping pucks on it,” noting that Lack’s best friend on the Canucks was the team’s online writer and social media coordinator.