AGAIN IN VANCOUVER
by Mack Irwin
For the third straight season, the Canucks will ice a new goaltending duo in September when the season starts.
recently traded Eddie Lack, their popular and effective backup goalie,
to the Carolina Hurricanes. In doing so, the Canucks sent two clear
messages: one, that the club believes in Ryan Miller as their top net
minder; and two, that they see Jacob Markstrom as being ready for
full-time NHL duty.
acquired from the Panthers as part of the Roberto Luongo trade,
Markstrom has an unusual pro track record. He has been one of the best
goalies outside of the NHL since he was drafted in 2008. That includes
stopping more than 92% of the shots he’s faced in a lengthy AHL career —
he’s been really, really good.
he hasn’t found that groove at the NHL level. Stopping only 89.6% of
his shots, as he has in his 50 NHL games, has earned him swift demotions
back to the American league. For whatever reason, Markstrom’s play has
dropped off a cliff every time he’s gotten a cup of coffee in the big
isn’t as if Markstrom has a track record of falling apart under
pressure. His ability to succeed in the clutch was on full display this
year, when he took the Utica Comets — the Canucks’ AHL affiliate — to
the Calder Cup finals.
with Markstrom’s track record often make very good NHL goalies - and
they rarely struggle as backups. It’s hard to say what has held him back
so far: it could be nerves, injuries, or even just plain old bad luck.
But the Canucks are making a bet on Jacob Markstrom next season.
betting that the goalie who carried his team to within three wins of
the Calder Cup this spring is going to turn up in Vancouver this season —
not that other guy.
Mack is a fourth year student at the University of St. Andrews in
Scotland, working on his Masters (Honours) in International Relations.
He is also a hockey statistician of note, contributing to the Washington
Post as an NHL analytics writer. You can check his hockey writing at www.PondHockeyThoughts.com