It looks like Roberto Luongo’s groin didn’t heal up over the Christmas break, as the Vancouver Canucks have recalled goaltender Joacim Eriksson from the Utica Comets. This means the Canucks will be rolling with a goaltending tandem with a grand total of 11 games of NHL experience between them, all belonging to Eddie Lack.
This is obviously a concern, but one slightly lessened by Lack’s performance this season, particularly recently. The Stork has a .928 save percentage and a 1.93 goals against average this season and has allowed just 3 goals against total in his last 3 starts. John Tortorella hasn’t hesitated to start him against some tough opponents this season, such as the Blackhawks, Blues and Ducks.
Eriksson’s recent performance in Utica is also encouraging, though his overall statistics for the season are mediocre at best.
The Comets are a pretty lousy team, which helps explain some of Eriksson’s struggles, but his .907 SV% and 2.77 GAA rank him in the bottom half of the league among goalies who have appeared in at least 10 games.
His last four starts, however, as pointed out in Big Numbers on Monday, have been a lot better, as he’s won all four with a .950 SV% and a 1.47 GAA, including a shutout. Still, you have to hope that he won’t have to see any game action with the Canucks, as he’s just 20 games into his first North American season.
That will entirely depend on how serious Luongo’s injury is. Since it has been reported to be a groin injury, you have to assume that Luongo and the Canucks will be cautious, as groins can be tricky for goaltenders. Luongo has already missed a significant chunk of games with a groin injury for the Canucks, sitting out 24 games in 2008-09. What’s encouraging is that he performed very well after returning from that injury, finishing the season with a .920 SV% and 2.34 GAA.
The Canucks won’t be the first team this season to have their all-star goaltender go down with an injury and be forced into icing an inexperienced tandem. The Predators lost Pekka Rinne to hip surgery in October and have used rookies Marek Mazanec and Carter Hutton in his stead. Of the two, just Hutton had played in the NHL prior to this season and it was just one game with the Chicago Blackhawks last season.
The Kings, meanwhile, lost Jonathan Quick in November, also to a groin injury, and have gotten excellent goaltending from Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones while he’s been on the shelf. Scrivens currently leads the NHL in save percentage, at .941, while Jones has actually been better, posting a .953 SV%, but has only played in 9 games. Scrivens previously had two seasons of experience as the backup in Toronto, but this is Jones’ first season in the NHL.
The Canucks have to hope, if Luongo is out for any length of time, that they get performances even close to that of Scrivens and Jones out of Lack and Eriksson.Tags: Joacim Eriksson, Roberto Luongo