MUM ON MIKE

Flames play­ing cards close to vest on sta­tus of goalie Smith, but he didn’t travel with them to Detroit

Calgary Sun - - SPORTS - kod­land@postmedia.com @Kris­ten_Od­land Kristen ODLAND

The Calgary Flames flew to Detroit on Tues­day for the start a six-game road trip.

But Mike Smith wasn’t with them.

And the de­tails re­gard­ing the 35-year-old’s in­jury that he suf­fered dur­ing the first pe­riod of Mon­day’s 7-4 win against the St. Louis Blues were cloudy.

The team was off on Tues­day opt­ing for a travel day only, which led to some city­wide stress over the avail­abil­ity of Smith mov­ing for­ward. And for what it’s worth, there were no Amer­i­can Hockey League trans­ac­tions on Tues­day evening that in­volved the Flames’ af­fil­i­ate Stock­ton Heat, the big club and goal­tenders David Rit­tich or Jon Gil­lies.

No ques­tion, how­ever, an ex­tended ab­sence could po­ten­tially be a prob­lem. Smith has started 16 of 17 games for the Flames this sea­son and has been ar­guably one of the rea­sons why they’re 10-7-0 sit­ting in sev­enth in the Western Con­fer­ence. He has a 9-6-0 record with a 2.63 goals-against av­er­age and .921 save per­cent­age and has been one of the busiest net­min­ders in the NHL.

Flames GM Brad Tre­liv­ing was stay­ing mum on the sub­ject Tues­day and promised an up­date Wed­nes­day on Smith’s sit­u­a­tion.

One po­ten­tial cause of the in­jury could have been when Smith re­ceived the brunt of a smash-up in his crease after Scot­tie Up­shall drove Travis Ha­monic into Smith, caus­ing a brouhaha be­tween the play­ers.

But the team wasn’t re­veal­ing any­thing on Tues­day.

Smith was eval­u­ated after the first pe­riod and did not re­turn, even on the bench in a back-up ca­pac­ity. So, Ed­die Lack came to the res­cue.

“Smitty pretty much told me right away that I was go­ing in,” Lack said. “I was just do­ing what I could do pre­pare and try­ing to get my eyes go­ing and my legs a lit­tle bit. I just tried to go out there and play my game.”

He did that, and by do­ing so he went from zero to hero — es­pe­cially in the third pe­riod.

Shortly after Vladimir Tarasenko scored a cru­cial third-pe­riod goal to knot the game 4-4, the Sco­tia­bank Sad­dle­dome showed their dis­plea­sure by (un­fairly?) boo­ing Lack and then, shortly after, gave him a sar­cas­tic Bronx Cheer fol­low­ing a rou­tine save.

So, what does he do?

With four min­utes left in the game and the Flames up 5-4, the 29-year-old like­able Swede made a fan­tas­tic pad­dle stop on Dmitrij Jaskin to pre­serve the lead late in the game.

So, what do the fans do? Break out in “Ed­die, Edd-ie” chants.

“I got booed two min­utes be­fore,” Lack said with a laugh. “After that save

I got the ‘Edd-ie, Edd-ie’ chants. It’s very black and white in this busi­ness, to be hon­est. You know what, it was huge and it was def­i­nitely a win that I wanted.”

It was also Lack’s first win as a mem­ber of the Calgary Flames.

Al­beit, he’s only had three tries — once in a re­lief ap­pear­ance Oct. 13 as the Flames were pumped 6-0 by the Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors, one start against the Blues on Oct. 25 (a 5-2 loss at Scot­trade Cen­ter) and Mon­day, which was an­other re­lief per­for­mance.

“It’s ob­vi­ously not the way I thought it was go­ing to be,” Lack said. “I, for sure, didn’t play my best game. But I thought I made a good save when it mat­tered the most in the third … (games are) al­ways dif­fer­ent than prac­tice. You can go through rep­e­ti­tions over and over and over. But you can’t re­ally sim­u­late the games.

“I’m hop­ing to get a lit­tle more con­sis­tency.”

Aside from the in­jury news, the re­al­ity is this: Smith was never ex­pected to play all 82 games, de­spite his starter’s sta­tus, and over the week­end, Flames head coach Glen Gu­lutzan men­tioned find­ing Lack some play­ing time.

“(Lack) has looked re­ally good and has kind of got­ten his game back,” Gu­lutzan had said. “At the end of the day, it’s tough for goalies to play 75 games. As good of shape Smitty is in, you still only want him to be in the

60s. So, we’re go­ing to get Ed­die go­ing here right away.”

And the tim­ing of Mon­day’s test-drive may have worked out in the back-up’s favour.

“I’ve been talk­ing to Gully and he thinks I’ve been play­ing re­ally well in prac­tice,” Lack said. “We are go­ing to try and get me some con­sis­tency here and a cou­ple more starts than one in 17.

“I re­ally have no idea how Smitty’s do­ing and we’ll take it day by day.”

The Flames open their marathon road swing Wed­nes­day at Detroit’s Lit­tle Cae­sars Arena against the Red Wings (5:30 p.m. MT, Sport­snet, Sport­snet 960 The

Fan). Calgary is on a twogame win streak after beat­ing Detroit 6-3 on Thurs­day and the Blues on Mon­day.

“Smitty pretty much told me right away that I was go­ing in.” Flames goalie Ed­die Lack, after starter mike smith was in­jured dur­ing a scrum in the crease dur­ing mon­day night’s game

AL CHAREST/POSTMEDIA

Flames d-man Travis Ha­monic is pushed into goalie Mike Smith by the Blues’ Scot­tie Up­shall on Mon­day night at the Dome. MIKE SMITH

Left early in Mon­day’s game

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