For the Dallas Stars and Marty Turco the 2008-09 season is one they would all like to forget. For Turco in particular who posted a 2.81 GAA and .898 save percentage, both the worst of his thus far stellar career. However, in all fairness to Turco he did face 1,993 shots, by far the most he had ever faced in a single season.
This season is going to be a huge season for Turco in a lot of ways. The big four year extension he signed back in the '05-'06 season will be expiring at the end of this season. Dallas has a fair amount of talent in their goaltending prospects and Alex Auld is a more than capable back up. We saw last year that Matt Clime has the potential to play at the NHL and with a little more experience will be ready in about a season or so. Highly touted prospect Richard Bachman is no more than a couple seasons away from making the jump to the NHL as well. And Tyler Beskorowany was impressive during the preseason before making the trip back to the juniors.
After the jump we will take a look how Turco compared to other NHL goalies in his situation, playing in more than 65 games.
#35 / Goalie / Dallas Stars
Aug 13, 1975
As a goaltender in hockey the microscope is always on you. No matter how well you play from one game to the next, if you let in that soft goal that cost your team a game, you can be sure the media will not let you forget about it.
Thankfully more Stars fans, Turco hasn't had very many of those moments. Sure he likes to stray from the net every now and then to make sure we are all paying attention at home, but a majority of the time he makes the right play and helps his team in the process. This is what makes him such a valuable asset. This season probably more than ever before, he is going to have to prove he isn't just a stellar regular season goalie, but that he can win into May and June. I can't recall a time in his career where there has more pressure on him going into a season.
In 2002-03 Turco had his best season statistically as a Dallas Star. He posted a stingy 1.72 GAA and stopped a bulky 93.2% of shots that came his way. That season he only played in 55 games. Veteran Ron Tugnutt played behind him and was able to play well in 31 games (some relief appearances) behind Turco allowing him to remain "fresh" throughout the season.
Let's face it Turco isn't getting any younger and isn't going to be able to play effectively throughout the marathon that is an NHL season if he starts more than 60 games.
|2008 - Marty Turco||74||4327||33||31||10||8||203||2.81||1993||1790||.898||3|
Last year Mikka Kiprusoff led the NHL in games played with 76. He also finished 32nd in GAA (2.84) and save percentage (.903).
If you look at Boston netminder Tim Thomas, who only started 54 games last year, it is no coincidence that he led all NHL goaltenders in GAA (2.10) and save percentage (.933) and went on to win the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goalie. Clearly there is a correlation between NHL goaltenders who start less than 60 games and having a very successful season.
Enter Alex Auld. This journeyman goaltender is more than capable of starting 25-30 games this year, significantly lightening the load for Turco. It was no secret last year that the team had zero confidence in Tobias Stephan which forced Turco to appear in 74 games, second only to the aforementioned Kiprusoff. If Turco falters during the season, expect Marc Crawford to maybe give Auld few more starts. Crawford has been one of those coaches that keeps his goalies on a somewhat short leash.
The time for Marty to prove he is worthy of another extension is now. Anything less than a deep run in the playoffs, in my opinion, and 2009-10 will be his last year in Dallas.