The Vancouver Canucks have solidified their playoff berth — and while there are plenty of things to love about the roster, Eddie Lack might be one of the most lovable pieces.
He stepped in back in February, when starter Ryan Miller went on long term injured reserve with a knee sprain. Although Lack had been showing promise in net since last season, though, he was an unproven long-term starter — that is, until he played his first handful of consecutive starts and proved that Vancouver’s depth in net is more than acceptable right now.
It’s still far from bad news to hear that Miller is back — but with Lack playing as well as he has been, the idea that Miller could dress as the team’s backup for their final two games is still pretty okay.
The team has confirmed that, pending approval from the coaches and Miller’s doctors both, the veteran starter could dress and sit behind Lack for their final two regular season appearances — fans shouldn’t even be surprised if he doesn’t get the final start of the year. With a playoff berth firmly in their grasp, the Canucks can afford to throw Miller in cold to get re-accustomed to being in net before the playoffs begin. After all, he’s been practicing for a week or two now — but he hasn’t played since before the trade deadline, and only has forty-four starts on the season.
If Miller is indeed back for good, the team will get a chance to ice one of the few true goaltender tandems during the post-season — apart from the one-two punch of Freddie Andersen and John Gibson in Anaheim, very few playoff teams truly boast two equivocal starters. With a .913 SV% for Miller and a .919 SV% for Lack, though, the team can safely say that starting either would be acceptable.
The last time a team won a Stanley Cup while splitting the net was when the Bruins did it back in the early seventies, but it’s interesting to consider that the Canucks might actually be better when giving even favor to Lack as they would to Miller. They’ve truly split the season straight down the middle, and the team has excelled under this practice — even though it wasn’t necessarily intentional — and they now sit prepared to make their first deep playoff run since 2011. After all, they sit prepared to face either the Los Angeles Kings (who have struggled on offense this season and may miss the post-season altogether) or the Calgary Flames, who lack the veteran depth and blue line strength to be considered a favorite in any series between the two teams. At this point, the Canucks won’t face their most formidable rivals — arguably the Anaheim Ducks — until at least the second round; an upset could see them face the Minnesota Wild or the Winnipeg Jets instead.