Eddie Lack needs to get himself a winter jacket for the Winnipeg cold and maybe an umbrella for Vancouver's rain just in case.
The 22-year-old Swedish Canucks prospect has started both games in net for Vancouver at the Young Stars Tournament and his stellar play has everyone from Manitoba Moose head coach Claude Noel to his parents back home buzzing.
Noel has compared Lack to Nashville Predators keeper Pekka Rinne, whom he coached with the Milwaukee Admirals.
“He reminds me a lot of him, big guy, same type of style, good feet, covers the bottom of the net and he reminds me of the same demeanor as Rinne, he’s really upbeat and enthusiastic and really good worker,” said Noel.
He hit the nail on the head with that assessment.
Lack – or Stork as he’s been known since a growth spurt six years ago stretched him to 6-foot-4 and nearly 200-pounds – has been a standout for the Canucks through two games stopping 13 of 14 shots in 31 minutes of play in a 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers Sunday before making 35 saves, including 17 in the third period, in a 5-3 Vancouver win over San Jose Monday.
The smiles on the faces of young fans in Penticton with the Young Stars in town don’t compare to that of Lack, who sat in his stall with a smile the Grinch would be envious of following his first win in a Canucks sweater.
“It’s a dream come true and I just want to play more and more,” said Lack, who grew up an hour north of Stockholm. “I was a little bit nervous the first night, because it was my first game with the Canucks and all that. I’ve felt pretty good out there and it has been a lot of fun playing out there, especially getting the win last night.”
Part of the reason Lack is smiling is that for the first time in a long while, he’s the man. While fellow Canucks prospect Michael Houser will undoubtedly be given a chance to shine over the final two games, Lack has established himself as a reliable netminder and he’ll likely start this season as the top dog in Manitoba because of it.
“I hope so. I just need to keep playing good and develop my game and we’ll see what happens. Just take it one practice and one game at a time.”
After three seasons with Leksands IF, the second highest league in Sweden, Lack jumped to the Swedish Elite League this past year starting 14 games behind league Rookie of the Year Jacob Markstrom. Lack posted a 2.67 goals against average and a .911 save percentage with a record of 5-7-1.
When the opportunity to sign with the Canucks arose, Lack lept at the chance to move another step closer to the NHL, even if that meant being third on the Canucks goaltending depth chart behind Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider.
“Luongo has always been an idol for me and I haven’t practiced with him yet, but I’m looking forward to next week when I get to meet him.
“He’s been probably the best goalie in the NHL for a couple of years now so I’ve just got to learn from him and take it as inspiration.”
It’s clear that even without Luongo’s tutelage, Lack knows how to stop pucks. He not only made 13 saves against the Oilers, he made 13 saves coming from the likes of Magnus Paajarvi, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. On two occasions he got in front of powerful blasts from Hall and he thwarted Paajarvi as long as he could before his Swedish rival got the best of him.
“It was a D shot and it bounced off a few guys and it just popped up on his stick, I think it was a pretty lucky goal,” joked Lack. “I just prepared like I always do and they have a couple of guys on their roster that you have to keep an extra eye on their numbers. I played against Magnus before and it’s too bad he scored on me.
“He always goes hard with a lot of speed to the net, he’s a pretty good skater and I think he’s going to be pretty good this year.”
Paajarvi is likely thinking the same of Lack. Either way, coach Noel is, especially after how well Lack played against the Sharks.
“I thought he was really solid, he made some really good saves at some key times,” said Noel. “One time a guy was left alone in front and he came out aggressively at him, I thought he did a really good job, I’m real happy with him.”
Added Noel on Lack’s composure after San Jose’s third goal, which cut Vancouver’s lead to 5-3, “He never got rattled. I didn’t really see the third goal there and that could have rattled anybody, including our bench.”
Goals don’t rattle Lack, but if he forgets to pickup a winter jacket and an umbrella, Mother Nature will.