Eddie Lack realizes things don’t always go as planned, but here’s what the Carolina Hurricanes goalie has been looking forward to:
▪ Celebrate his 28th birthday Tuesday in Vancouver, British Columbia.
▪ Start against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday and beat them at Rogers Arena.
“If there’s one game I’ve been looking at on the calendar, it’s the Vancouver game,” Lack said.
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The Canucks traded Lack to the Canes in June for a pair of draft picks. That came as a big disappointment to Canucks fans who had signed an online petition – “Keep Eddie Lack!” – urging management not to deal the Swede away.
When Ryan Miller was injured last season, it was Lack who stepped in as the No. 1 goalie. It was Lack who kept the Canucks in playoff position down the stretch of the regular season. It was Lack who also became a social media star, enhancing his popularity.
But as Lack said recently, the Canucks made a “business call” and shipped him to the Hurricanes. “It’s up to me,” he said, “to prove them wrong.”
Not worrying about whatever happened yesterday or day before. That’s history. Just focusing on the here, and coming in with a positive attitude.
Canes goalie Eddie Lack
It took time to get adjusted to new teammates and a new system. He struggled in October and November making sporadic starts, but Lack has had a steadier workload of late, been more consistent in net and made the most of his starts.
“Not worrying about whatever happened yesterday or day before,” Lack said. “That’s history. Just focusing on the here, and coming in with a positive attitude.”
It shows in his performance. Lack is 4-0-2 in his past six starts, including wins over the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals.
The 4-2 victory over the Caps, ending Washington’s nine-game win streak, came on New Year’s Eve and was Lack’s first of the season at PNC Arena. It also came with his father, Wille, in town and the two toasted the victory and the New Year after the game.
“We had steak and Bearnaise sauce and drank a little champagne,” Lack said, smiling. “But not too much. Pretty low-key.”
Lack was back in net Saturday against the Nashville Predators, who pulled out a 2-1 overtime win on Mattias Ekholm’s goal. The Canes then left Monday for a two-game Western trip to Edmonton and Vancouver.
Cam Ward, who grew up outside Edmonton in Sherwood Park, was the starting goalie Monday against the Oilers as the Canes lost 1-0 in overtime – the goal scored by former Canes defenseman Andrej Sekera. The plan was for Lack to get his wish and start against the Canucks.
Lack said about 30 or 40 people would gather for his birthday dinner Tuesday night in Vancouver. Wille Lack also traveled to Vancouver and said he will stay with his son until the middle of the month.
“He’s been there for me my whole career and it’s comforting to have him around,” Eddie Lack said.
Wille Lack plays recreational hockey in Sweden, at times with the father of Canes forward Victor Rask. He said he’s a defenseman, although Eddie laughed and said, “He’s kind of all over the place.”
Wille Lack said Eddie reminds him of Hans Wilhelmsson, a grandfather who was an Olympic speedskater for Sweden. Wilhelmsson competed in the 1960 Winter Games at Squaw Valley, missing a bronze medal in the 500 meters by a tenth of a second.
“I think Eddie has the same type of focus and concentration as his grandfather,” Wille Lack said.
Eddie Lack said Wilhelmsson died when he was a teenager, adding, “From what I heard he was always working out, training, running in the woods and everything. That’s one of the biggest reasons that got me here, too, I think. It’s fun being compared to him.”
Canes coach Bill Peters said Lack has been more effective not playing as deep in the crease so he can use his 6-foot-4 frame and wingspan. Peters said he felt “totally better” about the play of Ward and Lack in the past month, saying, “I sleep better at night.”
Lack would like to keep Peters well-rested by beating the Canucks. That’s the plan.
NOTE: Rookie forward Phil Di Giuseppe has a concussion and will be sidelined indefinitely, the team said Tuesday. Di Giuseppe was injured Saturday against the Predators.