The Dallas Stars are 45 games into the season and in the midst of the break for the All Star game. Since DBD didn't get up and running until after the true halfway point we're going to take the opportunity now to take a look at how each player has done so far this season.
Tobias Stephan - 7 games; 1-2-0; 3.35 GAA; .887 Sv%; 0 SO
Tobias Stephan is the latest in a long line of promising young goaltenders that has come up through the ranks of the Dallas Stars system. Roman Turek, Manny Fernandez, Dan Ellis, Mike Smith and others have all started as backups for the Stars and gone on to become starters elsewhere. The hope was that he would continue that trend and become yet another successful backup for the Dallas Stars. Unfortunately, he can't find his way onto the ice to prove it.
Stephan has started just three games all season, his last coming December 13th against Nashville. His play has not been substantially sub-par yet Dave Tippett has not played him as much as other backups have in the past few years. Perhaps his limited action is due to the team wanting to get Marty Turco back into top form but some speculate that there isn't much faith that Stephan could handle a bigger work load. The Stars are currently is a race for a playoff spot and every point is vitally important and the coaching staff has shown hesitation in playing Stephan in these important games. Perhaps it's attitude, work ethic or performance in practice but Tobias Stephan has not shown this season he is able to play in net for a team fighting for a playoff spot which is surpising for a goalie with so much promise. Grade: D
Marty Turco - 42 games; 19-16-7; 3.08 GAA; .885 Sv%; 1 SO
As the Stars revved up for the playoffs last season several questions about the team were unanswered, none more so than whether or not Marty Turco could lead his team deep into the playoffs. The season before he had been brilliant against Vancouver yet the Stars failed to get out of the first round. Despite his brilliant play the previous year Turco still needed to address his critics and help his team win a playoff series. Behind the spectacular and solid play of Turco and the emergence of team scoring the Dallas Stars beat Anaheim and San Jose on their way to the Western Conference Finals, where the Stars eventually folded in game six.
Heading into the 2008-2009 season there were once again questions surrounding this team. How would the Stars handle the pressure of being favorites once again in the West? Could this team overcome the loss of several key veterans? Yet nobody questioned Marty Turco's ability to lead his team in the playoffs. Perhaps they should have worried about his ability to even get them there.
There were many problems on the Dallas Stars to begin the season and Marty Turco's solidarity in net was perhaps the most troubling. Turco looked unsure of himself, thinking instead of reacting and was constantly out of position as the Stars' goals allowed totals soared to the highest its been in years. Turco's uneasiness in net, combined with poor defense in front of him contributed to the Stars looking up at the rest of the league from last place in the conference well into November. Some questioned Turco's stamina and mental stability as he struggled with consistency and saw his goals against average rise to the highest it's been at any point in his career.
Yet things have started to turn around. In his last 13 starts Marty Turco has posted a much more respectable 2.53 GAA and .897 save percentage. The Stars have started to climb out of the cellar and are now contending for a playoff spot, something that seemed impossible just a few months ago. More importantly Turco has looked calm and collected in the crease and his defensemen are starting to give him better sighlines to the puck whereas before Turco was constantly allowing screened shots. He has now started to be proactive and anticipating shots better and thinking and reacting as before.
The main worry with Turco is that he will wear down as the season progresses and if the Stars do make the playoffs won't have any stamina left. He is on pace to appear in 76 games this season, his most since appearing in 73 games in the 2003-2004 season. At times of late he has appeared to be sluggish handling the puck and hasn't been as crisp with his puck movement as he has in the past. Perhaps the break will do good for Turco and allow him time to recharge and prepare for a long grind into the playoffs. Grade: C+