Turco did not return to bench after being pulled

Turco1.jpgIt’s a tough time for the Dallas Stars. They entered the break one point out of a playoff spot, fueled by the incredible play of Marty Turco and some timely secondary scoring. Turco had a 1.15 goals-against average in the six games leading up the Olympics, and somehow found a way to play even better once the Stars traded for Kari Lehtonen. His elevated level of play (well, that combined with a complete lack of trade value) led the Stars to waive Alex Auld and go with Turco for a hopeful playoff run.

Since coming back from the Olympics, he’s been absolutely horrid. There’s no two ways to put it.

To be fair to Turco, the team around him hasn’t been much better. The forwards can’t score, the defense is absent and clueless and there is a noticeable lack of leadership on the team, from the coaches on down. But timely and consistent goaltending can help get a team’s confidence back and Turco, along with the rest of the Stars, has looked like he’s just not interested.

After allowing four goals on eleven shots against the Blues, including two in a span of 17 seconds, Marty Turco was pulled in favor of newly acquired Kari Lehtonen. The fact that the Stars turned to Lehtonen (who certainly looked like he hadn’t played in the NHL in about a year), was a sign of just how poor Turco’s performance had been. Turco wasn’t happy, as he never is with getting pulled, and stayed in the locker room instead of returning to the bench. From the Dallas Morning News:

“It is unusual. We addressed it this morning,” Crawford said. “Nobody likes to be pulled, and especially with all of the other things (Turco participated in an award ceremony before the game that honored him for playing in his 500th NHL game). I don’t think he was trying to do anything, but I think how you do things and how everybody views it, whether it’s our young players, or whether it’s our team in general, we all have to stick together. We’ve addressed it and we’ll go forward. I don’t believe for a minute that he was trying to draw attention from the team. He was probably just upset with his own performance.”

Turco’s attitude has always been a sticky point. He’s been an elite goaltender for the Stars in the past, but he’s nearing the end of his time with this team and it seems as if his desire to perform at a top level has waned. Perhaps it’s just something that comes with being an aging goaltender (he’s 34), but the fact that he can go from playing out of this world to absolutely atrocious shows a lack of concentration or inspiration.

Kari Lehtonen will get the start for the Stars on Saturday against the Penguins; perhaps some time off will get Turco’s heart in the right place again. It worked earlier in the season.

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    What is wrong with the Sharks?

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    Not that long ago, the San Jose Sharks appeared well on their way to winning the Pacific Division title.

    On March 14, they had a seven-point lead on both Anaheim and Calgary. Gone is that advantage. Not only have the Ducks surged back into the fight for the division, but the Sharks have lost five in a row and are having a terrible time of late creating any offense.

    Their struggles hit a new low Friday with a 6-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, a team with its own flaws and nowhere close to a playoff position.

    At one point midway through the second period, the Sharks trailed the Stars by four goals and had only six lousy shots on goal. During this skid, San Jose has scored only five goals.

    Earlier this week, members of the Sharks said they weren’t terribly worried about this losing streak. The losses, they had said, were in close games, which is true: San Jose lost three consecutive one-goal games.

    “When I look at the losing streak, we dominated some of those games for long periods and found ways to lose. You never like to lose, but I’m not that concerned,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “We’ve got to obviously end it. We’ve got to get healthy. I don’t see a bunch of symptoms of a team that can’t get this fixed pretty quickly.”

    This, however, was a blowout. Adam Cracknell recorded the hat trick, pushing his single-season career-high in goals to 10.

    The performance at one point forced DeBoer to take a timeout, in which he expressed his displeasure.

    Making matters worse for the Sharks: Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game early in the third period and was put under further evaluation. He didn’t return.

    The Sharks visit the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

    Halak and the Islanders defeat Penguins, move into wild card spot

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    Quite a hockey game between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

    It offered plenty to enjoy — Phil Kessel‘s dominant but unfruitful shift in overtime, a combined 86 shots on goal between both teams, a showcase of skill from the likes of John Tavares and Sidney Crosby, and two strong goaltending performances from Jaroslav Halak and Marc-Andre Fleury.

    Josh Ho-Sang, who wears No. 66, which is just fine in the eyes of Mario Lemieux, set up Brock Nelson‘s goal in the second period.

    The Islanders and their fans probably aren’t hung up on style points at this juncture of the season. They just care about wins and points in the standings, and those are exactly what New York accomplished with a 4-3 shootout win in Pittsburgh.

    Anthony Beauvillier and Tavares scored for the Islanders in the shootout. Halak made 37 stops, including a game-saver in overtime off Matt Cullen. Halak trapped the puck, which was right on the goal line, between his legs on a chance from in front. The play was reviewed but no goal.

    The win gives the Islanders 82 points, which is the same total as the struggling Boston Bruins.

    However, the Islanders, with one game in hand on the Bruins, take over the final wild card spot in the East for now.

    Video: Friday night fights between Bolts and Red Wings

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    Not much offense — actually, just one goal midway through the second period as of the writing of this post — between the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday.

    But there has definitely been some animosity between the two clubs.

    Tempers flared late in the first period, with Adam Erne and Andreas Athanasiou getting involved in a spirited scrap — and Athanasiou unsuccessful in his attempt at the take-down.

    The bad blood continued in the second period with Greg McKegg and Anthony Mantha getting involved in a fight, and Mantha — given the instigator — landing a couple of shots with McKegg on the ice.

     

    NHL, MLB player unions support U.S. women hockey players’ boycott

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    Unions representing NHL and Major League Baseball players are backing U.S. Women’s National Hockey team players’ decision to boycott next week’s world championships because of a wage dispute.

    The NHL Players’ Association posted a note on its Twitter account on Friday saying it supports the U.S. players while panning USA Hockey’s bid to stock the team with replacements. The NHLPA says the decision to go with replacement players “would only serve to make relations, now and in the future, much worse.”

    Earlier in the day, the MLB Players Association encouraged all women hockey players to stand united behind their national team colleagues.

    Read more: USA Hockey says it will not offer living wage, as dispute with women’s national team continues

    The Twitter messages were posted a day after USA Hockey announced it would begin gauging interest of replacement players to compete at the tournament, which opens next Friday in Plymouth, Michigan.

    Players are seeking a four-year contract that includes payments outside the six-month Olympic period.