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WWYDW: When should Eddie Lack get the start?

It seemed like the perfect time to play him. The second of a back-to-back, on the road, against a former team–

Except Mike Smith had given up five goals the night before, which wasn’t normal for him in his short Flames tenure thus far. He probably wouldn’t want that to fester, especially not with four days off in between games. And so, Smith got the start, and what could very well have been Eddie Lack’s first start as a Flame was pushed back another day.

So, if not on Oct. 14, when?

Lack has, thus far, played 12:02 for the Flames through six games. He had a relief appearance for Smith on Oct. 13, rescuing the Flames’ starter from a night that wasn’t his fault and wasn’t going to get better. He gave up one goal on six shots, but it hardly mattered at that point.

And… that’s it. The goalie that the Flames gave up a sixth round pick for has yet to have the chance to actually do anything.

Whether Smith’s current .929 save percentage is sustainable or not, he probably isn’t going to start 82 games this season. (His career high is 67, back in the 2011-12 season.) And while some may be more excited for Jon Gillies or David Rittich, it’s difficult to see either of them getting an NHL start this season before Lack, a veteran of over 100 games.

Lack is, at some point, going to actually start a game.

On Oct. 19, the Carolina Hurricanes come to town. They were the last team Lack played for, and it would make sense to give him the start – except it’s been four days between games, and Lack wasn’t given the chance to play against his other former team. Smith is likely to get the call again; otherwise, he’d be going a week between starts.

The next candidate would appear to be Oct. 25: the second of a back-to-back, from playing in Nashville on Oct. 24 to St. Louis the following day. There is a chance could see Smith play in both, but if that’s the case, then it would appear Lack isn’t going to get any starts in October, which would be a little odd to say the least.

The Flames’ next back-to-back situation will come a month later: on Nov. 24 they’re in Dallas, and on Nov. 25 they’re in Denver. If the Flames don’t want to wait a month between starts for their backup, though, then Nov. 7 – a home game against the Canucks – seems like a possibility for Lack.

The Flames will have two other road back-to-backs to play in December, as well as two more games against the Canucks that month. The next time they face Carolina will be Jan. 14 – their last game before their CBA mandated five-day break.

At least through the first half of the season, the pickings seem slim for Lack. So to that end, I pose the question: when would you start him, and how often do you think he should play through the year?


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  • Puckhead

    Play it game by game – put in Lack as soon as Smith falters or it becomes evident that he needs a break. Lack should see at least 15 to 20 games this season so he will get his chances.

    • McRib

      Hahah, I wouldn’t be as drastic, but Lack should definetly have a short leash. Rittich is 25 years old, which means he is in his prime. If Lack even falters once or twice I would have Rittich on speed dial. Rittich doesn’t “need more seasoning” in the AHL, it’s now or never.

      I would also like to see Parsons end up in the AHL by the end of the season (although a half season in the ECHL isn’t a terrible idea), so if Lack isn’t prepared then off to Sweden he goes. Not to be cutthroat or anything, but we’re are starting to have a log jam.

      • deantheraven

        Starting to have a log jam? Don’t know if they can send lack down for ‘conditioning’ without an injury. Gotta be one of the road games this month and one in Nov. He won’t be worth anything if he hasn’t showed, and the only way to end the log jam is to move someone. He’s my choice to be part of a package for picks at the deadline. Hopefully he’s got some value by then.

  • cjc

    I can see the Flames wanting to lean more heavily on Smith to start the season; get themselves to a comfortable place in the standings and then ease-up on him and give Lack some more starts. However, if Rittich or Gillies have a run of lights-out play, why not reward that and give them a few NHL starts? The cap space certainly exists, and Lack won’t attract much attention on the waiver wire, particularly if he’s been bad.

    • deantheraven

      That’s not a bad idea. Better chance that happening than him being sent down, but I think both are unrealistic to GG & Tre. Like cjc says, the first half will most likely be Smith for 9/10 at least. I’ve been putting it out there since the summer that Rittich should be here after the Deadline. Be too bad for Eddie if he gets demoted, but life’s cruel sometimes.

  • I'm Ron Burgundy?

    The back-up (not convinced it should be Lack) should get a start in the next back to back and at least 15 more after that….we need this version of Mike Smith to still be here come spring.

    Not related to the WWYD question – but has anyone seen Oilers Nation this morning? People are jumping off the wagon likes it’s on fire (and looking for warm bodies to throw under the tires while they’re at it). Reminds me of FN about a year ago…still makes me shudder to think about October 2016. Things could get even worse up north real quick after the schedule gauntlet they have coming up.
    Stay classy FN…and please resist your urges to troll on ON, it makes us all look bad

  • Off the wall

    Until our defensive systems improve, I don’t see the need to put Lack into the firing squad.

    Giving up 40 shots a game (3 games so far) is a recipe for disaster. Smith has been the difference.

    We can’t expect Lack to be this good.
    Get defensive systems fixed, then Lack can at least have a chance..

  • redwhiteblack

    Overall the team has not had a great game yet. There have been major flaws in every game. I think it we will continue to see gaps as it is still early. If Lack is not good enough at present to make up for some bad play the results could be loses. Smith has been our best player most nights. That said he will need a rest at some point and they hired Lack for the backup job.

  • FlamesFanOtherCity

    Play him a game likely to be more defensive. Minny at home makes sense. So does Nashville. Likely to face less than 30 shots that night. Need the better of the two goalies for a night when the team in front is tired. Smith against STL.

    Not a fan of playing him against his team from last year. They are fast and loose. They know his tendencies.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    The major assumption here is that he’ll only get a chance when there’s a back to back. After this anomalous free week in the schedule and if we keep the wins up, couldn’t he just start, you know, whenever?