John Garrett: Believe in Lack
The list is well documented so I will not bore you by repeating the list. What I will do is try to address the goaltending situation and how the team is handling it. Eddie Lack is in the process of learning how to be the number one guy.
It is a learning experience. It requires a different mindset than being the backup. You have to mentally be ready to play every game. You have to believe that you can make the difference every night. Usually a younger goalie comes in and watches a veteran play and learns to be consistent and not let in those costly bad goals.
The Buffalo Sabres came through a few nights ago and we saw a young goalie trying to establish himself as a contender to take over the job let open with the trade of Ryan Miller. Nathan Lieuwen was pretty good, but he let in an easy one off the stick of Yannik Weber. That just cannot happen.
Cory Schneider spent five years watching Roberto Luongo. Schneider played 15 to 20 games a year until the lockout year when he played 30 of 48. You look at the league goaltending statistics and you see the guys who learned how to be at the top of their games for long periods of time. Josh Harding leads in goals against. He was a back up to Nik Backstrom for five years. Tuukka Rask is in the top five. He learned playing behind Tim Thomas. Ben Bishop finally got his chance this year in Tampa after being in St. Louis and Ottawa. Cory Crawford was up and down in Chicago for four years and played a grand total of eight games before he got his chance. Ryan Miller played only 18 games in his first two years in Buffalo.
Eddie Lack is learning on the run. The team has shown they believe in his potential. He has started 14 in a row with no end in sight. He has had his ups and downs, yet seems unaffected. He bounced back from a disastrous third period against the New York Islanders to win in a shootout in Winnipeg. After giving up a bad game winning goal in Tampa he shutout the Predators in the next game. He let in two of the first three shots the Sabres fired his way then shut the door.
I like the way Lack plays. He is big and plays to his size. He is learning from one of the best goalie coaches in the league in Rollie Melanson. He is showing more control in his game. His positive attitude has been infectious on a team that has needed some rays of sunshine.
The one thing that every elite goaltender has is that belief in himself. That belief that no matter how the team plays he can put together a ten game win streak. When that happens the team believes they can take some chances and not pay a price when they give up some grade A scoring chances.
Only time will tell and only then will the goaltending question be answered.