Marty Turco vs. Alex Auld: Advanced Statistical Analysis

Sadly, it seems almost a forgone conclusion at this point that Marty Turco will be gone at the end of this season. The Dallas Stars are reportedly not interested in re-signing the veteran goaltender this summer and are starting to inquire about his value in the trade market. If Turco is traded, the short (and long) term future of the position of the team is up in doubt; Alex Auld has played just 17 games for the Stars thus far and and while he's been solid he's yet to inspire confidence that he can carry this team if Turco is indeed traded.

But the specific trade talk will wait for a later day. Instead, I wanted to compare Marty Turco and Alex Auld and how they've matched up against each other this season. Now, it's easy to just compare goals-against average and save percentage and say "this one is better than that one, he should be the starter". For the record, using those stats, Marty Turco has been the better goaltender.

But as the season has progressed, a theme has been born among fans that perhaps the Dallas Stars play better in front of Alex Auld, and not Turco. It's tough to argue; some of the most demoralizing losses this season have come with Turco in net. The Stars also began this latest 'surge' after Auld temporarily took over for Turco for three straight games. Turco now has two solid starts in a row (tough to blame the loss in Colorado on him), and it's completely up in the air now who the best goaltender for the Stars is at this point.  But besides trying to determine who the best goaltender is individually, how about which goaltender is better for the team?

After the jump, we examine some statistics that speak to how the team as a whole performs in front of each goaltender. This isn't about save percentage or GAA; this is about how much offense and chances the Stars force with each goaltender, and how many goals are allowed.

First, a word about these stats. These numbers on based on stats for a full 60 minute game: therefore GA60 is the average of how many goals are allowed in a full 60 minutes of play. These are also broken down in 5 on 5, 5 on 4, and 4 on 5. So for the 4 on 5 stats, this is how many goals are scored and allowed if the team were shorthanded for a full 60 minutes.

It's also important to not that the sample sizes for both goaltenders are very different; Turco has played in 35 games while Auld has played in just 17. So keep that in mind when analyzing these stats for yourself.

Rankings are from among goaltenders with at least ten starts.

5 on 5

GP GF60 (Rk) GA60 (Rk) SF60 (Rk) SA60 (Rk)
Marty Turco 35 2.22 (41st) 2.44 (38th) 27.7 (16th) 26.8 (27th)
Alex Auld 17 2.66 (16th) 2.83 (52nd) 26.0 (37th) 25.1 (10th)

These are interesting. On one hand, the Stars are remarkedly more potent on offense while shooting less per game. On the other, it would seem that Auld allowes significantly more goals even though the Stars allow less shots. In either case, with both goaltenders, the Dallas Stars are scoring much less at even strength than the goals they are allowing. The jump in shots per game when Turco is in net can be attributed to his ability to move the puck up ice much quicker than Auld, although it's amazing that the Stars are scoring  so few goals with that amount of shots.

It also appears that the Stars are allowing more shots per game with Turco in net, adding to the theory that the defense plays much more solid in front of Auld. Yet Auld is allowing an exhorbitant amount of even strength goals per game, so even if the team in front of him is scoring more and allowing less shots, he hasn't been as solid in goal as the team would hope.

5 on 4

GP GF60 (Rk) GA60 (Rk) SF60 (Rk) SA60 (Rk)
Marty Turco 35 6.38 (30th) 1.02 (38th) 49.0 (11th) 10.7 (48th)
Alex Auld 17 6.63 (24th) 1.53 (52nd) 41.8 (40th) 11.3 (50th)

Once again, some very interesting overall stats. Now, Alex Auld has absolutely nothing to do with what the Stars are doing on the other end of the ice on the power play yet the team is scoring at a higher pace with him in net. This is most likely contributed to the smaller sample size with Auld, but the disparity in shots forced with the man advantage between Turco and Auld is amazing. The Stars are popping off an incredible high amount of shots, yet are failing to score (sound familiar?).

It's also important to note where Alex Auld ranks among NHL goaltenders for goals allowed when on the power play.

4 on 5

GP GF60 (Rk) GA60 (Rk SF60 (Rk) SA60 (Rk)
Marty Turco 35 0.67 (34th) 9.36 (54th) 8.0 (28th) 52.5 (56th)
Alex Auld 17 1.47 (3rd) 6.61 (34th) 8.1 (27th) 44.8 (31st)

 Here is the most interesting stats of them all: the almighty and wholly frustrating penalty kill. Neither goaltender is doing all that well overall, but Turco's goals allowed is amazingly high. We all know the Stars PK unit has struggled all season long, but it's incredible to see the difference in team performance with Auld in net. Less goals allowed, less shots allowed and a surprisingly high amount of shorthanded goals.

Why the disparity? Once again, you could attribute it the differences in sample sizes. It could also be a matter of the differing styles that Turco and Auld play with; Turco's athletic, scrambly style hasn't worked well with a poor penalty killing unit in front of him. Contrastly, Auld's more mechanical and positionally sound style has helped out a struggling team in front of him.

Conclusion?

Well, there's no doubt that all of the numbers above are not very good and extremely worrisome. Neither goaltender ranks anywhere close to the top 30 in the NHL in goals allowed averages, and the Stars are having major issues scoring despite higher shot totals.

Using these stats, can we determine which goaltender the team plays better in front of? Maybe on the penalty kill but other than that no. The team is still scoring grossly fewer goals than they are scoring and despite the actual power play and penalty kill percentages (which are useless), it's obvious that special teams are the Stars' major weakness. Does that fall on Turco and Auld?

More importantly, does signing and trading for a new goaltender make all of these issues go away?

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