Canucks could start playoffs with Lack in net

Geoff Burke / USA Today

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Growing up in Sweden, Eddie Lack used to wake up in the middle of the night to watch NHL playoff games on TV.

Now he's on the verge of taking center stage.

The 27-year-old goalie has been the backbone of the Vancouver Canucks for the past two months, compiling a 12-6-2 record and a .927 save percentage to help guide the team to the playoffs after Ryan Miller went down with a knee injury in late February.

And while coach Willie Desjardins didn't say after Monday's practice when asked about his starter for Game 1 of Vancouver's first-round series against the Calgary Flames, all signs point to Lack getting the nod in Wednesday's opener at Rogers Arena.

''It's obviously something you were watching at home as a kid and everything,'' Lack said of his playoff memories. ''I'm just looking forward to getting out there.''

Lack was entrenched as Vancouver's No. 2 goalie until Miller got hurt, but has done well in big games this season after also taking over the crease last season following the trade of Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers.

''He's given us a chance to win every night,'' Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. ''He doesn't have to be spectacular, he just has to be solid.''

Lack helped Vancouver to second in the Pacific Division this season after a disappointing 2013-14 that saw the club miss the playoffs for the first time in six years.

Despite not yet being publicly named as Wednesday's starter, Lack was talking as if he would be getting the call, adding that he expects some jitters.

''I feel like I play my best when I have a little nerves,'' Lack said. ''It kind of gets me going a little bit.''

Desjardins admitted that keeping the identity of his starting goalie in house is just part of playoff hockey.

''It makes a difference knowing which goaltenders are going to start,'' Desjardins said. ''This time of the year you look for all the advantages you can get. It's not that you don't want to share information, but you want to win. So you try and find every edge you can. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't.''

For his part, Miller didn't sound as if he's a goalie expecting to play in Game 1, saying ''there's still a lot of things I need to do to be competing at a high level'' after Saturday's 6-5 overtime victory against the Edmonton Oilers in the regular-season finale, his first action in almost seven weeks.

''Going out and playing a game that didn't really mean a whole lot as far as the standings, that's one thing,'' he said. ''But coming in possibly in a situation where it means a whole lot more, I want to be sharper and I want to have more control over my game. It's pretty obvious there were parts of my game that were rusty.''

Lack said it was nice to get a breather on Saturday after playing 22 of 23 games in Miller's absence, but he's also eager to feel the heat in the playoffs as Vancouver's No. 1.

''I kind of feel like we've had pressure on us for a while now,'' he said. ''My mentality and everything isn't going to change now. I'm just going to keep going.''

Canucks could start playoffs with Lack in net
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