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Goaltender Controversy in Dallas? Not Anytime Soon.

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You could see it coming.

Back in July when the Dallas Stars made a brilliant trade for Alex Auld, Stars fans started the countdown until the day that Marty Turco would flounder in the regular season and Auld would take over, at least for a good chunk of games. After the worst season of his career in 2008-09, and headed into a contract year after many think he's past his prime, many had Turco on a short leash.

Once Turco struggled in his first two starts and Auld shined in his, the slow and steady roar began to take shape across the Stars fanbase. The team and the coaches preached patience as Turco had the chance early in the season to take a break and work out some kinks in his game, as Auld stood tall and led his team to their first win of the regular season. Turco bounced back and after a shaky performance in Vancouver had a tremendous game in securing the shutout against Nashville.

While the rest of his team was sleeping through the first period on Friday night, Turco did his best to hold back the Boston Bruins and keep his team in the game. Many see the three goals allowed and and sigh, thinking to themselves that Turco had regressed again after such a good game two nights earlier. Yet he withstood 14 first period shots, allowing just one goal and doing his basic job: give his teammates an opportunity to win the game.

In what was the plan from the start of the season Alex Auld started the next night in Chicago, a game many thought the Stars had little chance of winning. Once again, Dallas came out flat in the first period and once again their goaltender gave them a chance. This time, the Stars took advantage and scored two quick goals in the second period. In a tight and tough game against an aggressive opponent on the road, Auld was the best player on his team as the Stars surprised the Blackhawks and came away with the win.

Watching the games, Auld has been calm and collected in net and he's been the best player on this team both games. Turco has been a bit inconsistent and had some up and down games. If this trend continues, it's only a matter of time before their roles are switched and Auld becomes the starter, correct?

Not so fast.

Marty Turco gives this team the best chance to win each night. It's easy to get frustrated with the inconsistency of this season, but after taking some time to work on his mechanics Turco has looked much more confident in net. He's only appeared in five games so far this season, and hasn't completely fallen apart in either while dominating another. What many point to is how the team seems more confident with themselves with Auld in net, and that's a result of his calm demeanor in net. He is solid in goal, maintains his positioning and is confident in himself. His team is confident in him as well. Yet he does not possess the athleticism that Turco has to make the spectacular saves that we've seen over the years.

The two goaltenders have different styles, different approaches in net and have the ability to take over a game and be the best player on the ice. Marty Turco is a third defenseman on the ice with his ability to move the puck and negate a forecheck, while Auld is calm as a monk when the puck is bouncing around in his crease. Both have their strengths and both have their weaknesses. Neither is perfect.

Before we start to wonder why one is playing more than the other, we should be thankful that the Stars have one of the best goaltender tandems in the NHL.

We get so myopic when it comes to these Dallas Stars and Marty Turco in particular. We get maddened by some of the soft goals, by the Stars allowing goals just seconds after scoring themselves. We let the shootout struggles affect our view of the team's overall performance in regulation.

These Stars are three saves away from being 6-1-0. That hurts.

Yet the Stars are also three made shots from being 6-1-0.

Combined, Alex Auld and Marty Turco have formed what looks to be a top goaltender pairing that is by far doing much better than what we saw last season in net. Below are the numbers from the top 22 goaltenders in the NHL that have at least two starts.

Player Team GP GS W L OT SA GA GAA Sv Sv% SO G A PIM TOI
1 Mathieu Garon CBJ 2 1 1 0 0 44 1 0.77 43 .977 1 0 0 0 78:16
2 Andrew Raycroft VAN 2 0 0 0 0 17 1 1.13 16 .941 0 0 0 0 52:34
3 Ilya Bryzgalov PHX 6 6 5 1 0 148 7 1.14 141 .953 2 0 0 0 367:36
4 Ty Conklin STL 2 2 2 0 0 59 3 1.50 56 .949 1 0 0 0 120:00
5 Ryan Miller BUF 5 5 4 0 1 130 8 1.58 122 .938 1 0 0 0 302:31
6 Antti Niemi CHI 3 2 3 0 0 57 5 1.73 52 .912 1 0 0 0 173:12
7 Craig Anderson COL 8 8 6 1 1 263 17 2.09 246 .935 1 0 1 4 487:57
8 Marc-Andre Fleury PIT 7 7 7 0 0 192 15 2.09 177 .922 0 0 0 0 429:35
9 Henrik Lundqvist NYR 7 7 6 1 0 220 15 2.15 205 .932 0 0 0 0 418:25
10 Pascal Leclaire OTT 6 6 4 2 0 158 13 2.17 145 .918 0 0 0 0 359:04

11

Marty Turco

DAL

5

5

1

1

3

133

12

2.29

121

.910

1

0

1

0

314:03

12 Steve Mason CBJ 5 5 4 1 0 147 11 2.35 136 .925 0 0 0 0 281:16
13 Cam Ward CAR 7 7 2 4 1 216 16 2.42 200 .926 0 0 1 0 397:25

14

Alex Auld

DAL

2

2

2

0

0

55

5

2.50

50

.909

0

0

0

0

120:00

15 Evgeni Nabokov SJS 8 8 4 2 1 230 20 2.63 210 .913 1 0 0 2 455:57
16 Jonas Hiller ANA 5 5 3 2 0 152 12 2.67 140 .921 0 0 0 0 269:33
17 Jose Theodore WSH 6 5 1 2 2 144 13 2.67 131 .910 0 0 0 0 292:02
18 Martin Brodeur NJD 7 7 4 3 0 196 19 2.68 177 .903 1 0 0 2 426:06
19 Antero Niittymaki TBL 3 3 2 1 0 92 8 2.70 84 .913 0 0 1 0 177:42
20 Chris Mason STL 4 4 1 2 1 115 11 2.74 104 .904 0 0 0 0 241:24
21 Ondrej Pavelec ATL 4 4 3 1 0 134 11 2.76 123 .918 0 0 0 0 239:20
22 Ray Emery PHI 6 6 3 2 1 175 17 2.79 158 .903 1 0 0 2 365:05

 

Surprising?

The only blemishes on Turco's numbers are the shootout losses. Goals-against average is an arbitrary number as well, since the Dallas defense has had it's share of mishaps in front of Turco as well. Yet both goaltenders have respectable save percentages and are middle of the pack in goals-against.

How do they look compared to league average? Here are Turco's and Aulds numbers compared with the average of every NHL goaltender with at least two starts.

GAA SV %
Marty Turco 2.29 .910
Alex Auld 2.50 .909
NHL Average (46 goaltenders) 2.84 .880

 

These numbers will start to even out as the season progresses, but for now the Dallas Stars have two goaltenders are playing much better than league average. Let's not let the shootout struggles cloud the fact that the Dallas Stars have lost just one game and are right in the middle of the hunt for the Pacific Division right off the start of the season. Compared to last season, this is all we could have hoped for. The Stars need Turco to be at his best as the season gets closer to the playoffs, and Auld is here to ensure that happens. For all of the talk about how calm he is in net, Turco is the goaltender that has proven he is capable of leading a team in a playoff series.

Alex Auld was brought in to be a backup goaltender that the team could actually depend on, and one that would push Marty Turco to constantly improve and get better, and that's exactly what has happened. Not since Mike Smith was in Dallas have the Stars and the fans felt secure when the backup is in net.

That's a luxury that 95% of the teams in the NHL would love to have.