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Hurricanes Coach Peters Rips Läck, Goaltending Numbers

Carolina Hurricanes Head Coach Bill Peters didn’t mince any words about his goaltending while meeting for a scrum with the media on Friday morning. Two days after the team fell 4-3 in overtime to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Peters was clearly upset about losing despite only allowing 16 shots on goal. His specific target was Eddie Läck, even though he has only appeared in 10 games this season and is returning from a concussion.

Here’s the full quote:

“One guy has played 10 games. Eddie has played 10 games and was poor in his last outing, let’s not kid ourselves, right? There were 16 shots, four went in. Not good enough. You look at his numbers in the league, they’re not good enough.”

“So I don’t think it’s much of a competition. We’ve got a guy who’s well ahead of the other guy. That’s what I see and the numbers back that up.”

“So when he gets in another game, you better play. You better earn some respect from your teammates. Your teammates are out there working their bag off. You better get some saves and a timely save at the right time wouldn’t hurt.”

“That’s a little bit honest, eh? I just looked it up. You look up any goalie who has played 10 games in the National Hockey League and the top 60 in save percentage, I know who’s 60. There’s 30 teams. Not good enough.”

It’s easy to understand the frustration, but taking it out on Läck seems a bit misguided. It’s impossible to sugarcoat his .873 save percentage in NHL action this season, but Cam Ward’s numbers are similarly less-than-stellar. Appearing in 50 games this season, Ward has posted a .905 save percentage – which is only slightly lower than his career average of .909.

Läck still has one year left on his contract that earns him $2.75M, while Ward also signed to a two-year deal worth $3.3M just this past offseason.

Observers may point to the struggling team’s style being very difficult for the goaltenders, but the Hurricanes have been giving up only 53.9 shot attempts per game – good for 8th-best in the NHL. Their CF% is 4th-best in the NHL according to Corsica, yet they find themselves tied for last place in the Eastern Conference, saddled with a -24 goal differential.

Even though Läck is signed, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which they bring back the 29-year-old Swede after a coach’s outburst like this.

This likely will not be his last shot in the NHL, though. Many are tying his struggles to an abrupt style change that occurred during his first season in Carolina. Instead of playing deeper, and relying on his hands to cut pucks off, he started playing at the edge (and sometimes outside of) his crease. This lengthened his routes around the crease, and has seemingly exposed a weakness in his game. Things looked to be getting back on track early this season, but the injury derailed him, and he has looked awful since returning to the lineup.

However the situation resolves itself, it’s always odd to see a coach publicly rip his goaltending the way Peters did. Especially a backup that has only appeared in 10 games.

About The Author

Greg Balloch

Greg Balloch is a Vancouver-based writer for InGoal Magazine, broadcaster for Sportsnet 650, and goaltending coach. His career began in Hamilton, Ontario with the Junior 'A' Hamilton Red Wings, before moving to Vancouver to cover the Canucks on the radio and work with the Surrey Eagles of the BCHL. A lifelong goaltender, he has been teaching the position for over a decade.