GLENDALE, Ariz. - After his team's morning skate in Raleigh on Friday, Carolina Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters was asked a seemingly innocuous question about how he planned to use his goaltenders down the stretch and if there would be any competition for a majority of the starts.
In so many words, that answer was no.
"Eddie has played 10 games and was poor in his last outing. Let's not kid ourselves. 16 shots, and four went in. Not good enough," Peters said. "You look at his numbers in the league, and they're not good enough. I don't think it's much of a competition. I think we've got a guy who's way ahead of the other guy. That's what I see, and the numbers back that up. When he gets in again, he better play and earn some respect from your teammates. Your teammates are out there working their bag off. You better make some saves and a timely save at the right time. Wouldn't hurt."
Lack, of course, heard the criticism.
"There's not much I can do but keep working hard and keep focusing," he said after Sunday's morning skate. "I'm a positive guy, and I surround myself with positive people, too. That helps. I am playing in the best league in the world, so it's tough being negative in this league. It's such a fun workplace, and I'm just looking forward to getting out there."
Lack will get that opportunity tonight, as he takes the crease when the Hurricanes rematch the Coyotes in the desert. It will be his fifth start since returning from a pair of concussions that kept him out of the lineup for nearly three months.
"I always try to work hard and work on my game to get better. Obviously I wasn't happy with the Tampa Bay game, but I felt really good two games before that," Lack said, referencing his 34-save shutout performance against Ottawa. "I'm just trying to do what I can control to get better and find my game again."
Video: Lack earns Friday's Pepsi Zero Sugar Shutout
"Just a good, solid performance," Peters said when asked what he wanted to see out of Lack tonight. "Handle the puck, be square and give his team a chance to win."
Considering what Peters said publicly about Lack just days ago, tonight could be an opportunity for the Swedish netminder to prove what he's capable of between the pipes. But Lack said he's not approaching it in that manner.
"I always try to do my best. I don't know if I have more to prove today or not," he said. "I'm trying not to think like that. I'm trying to just go out there and my play game."
With a game at least every other night from here to game No. 82, Peters will likely lean on Lack to ease some of Ward's workload.
"We talked about this being his start and setting him up," Peters said. "He's two games under .500 on the season. Typically as a coach, if your back-up goalie can go .500, you can live with that. He's got an opportunity to do that. There's still enough hockey games left to play to have a strong finish."
For Lack, it's the tried and true "one day, one game at a time" mantra, starting tonight as the Hurricanes seek to avenge Friday's 4-2 loss to the Coyotes.
"Whenever I look too far ahead, it never works out the way you think," Lack said. "Just take it day by day and try to get better."