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?