It’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.
Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, and Panthers center Vincent Trocheck have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.
From the NHL:
Crosby led the League in goals and points (5-3-8) in three games as the Penguins (26-18-7, 59 points) earned four of a possible six points to secure the second Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference.
Karlsson led the League in assists and ranked second in points (0-7-7) in three games as the Senators (24-23-6, 54 points) won one of three starts for the week.
Trocheck notched six points (3-3—6) in three games, helping the Panthers (31-15-6, 68 points) widen their lead atop the Atlantic Division to six points.
Related: Red-hot Crosby could make Pens a flawed (but dangerous) dark horse
Evgeni Malkin‘s “nagging” lower-body injury will keep him out at least one more game.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said this morning that the star center will sit out tonight at home against the Ducks. Malkin already missed two contests this weekend in Florida. His status is day-to-day.
The Penguins lost, 6-3, in Tampa on Friday, but rebounded Saturday with a 3-2 OT win over the Panthers.
Pittsburgh’s next game after tonight’s is Wednesday at home versus the Rangers.
The New York Rangers will be without Ryan McDonagh tonight at home to New Jersey, the club announcing this morning that the defenseman is out with a concussion.
McDonagh left Saturday’s game in Philadelphia following an altercation with the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds that ended with McDonagh taking a punch to the face from Simmonds.
Simmonds received a match penalty and was thrown out of the game, but did not receive any supplemental discipline.
Given the standings, the Rangers can ill afford to lose McDonagh for long. They play in Pittsburgh Wednesday, followed by three home games against Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
Tuesday night, Milan Lucic will play his first game in Boston as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.
It should be an emotional return for the big 27-year-old winger. In an interview with the L.A. Times, he recalled his time with his former club fondly, saying how great it was to be a “part of one of the best-ever eras to be a Bruin.”
A pending unrestricted free agent, Lucic also commented on his contract negotiations with the Kings.
“Nothing to get excited about,” he said. “There’s been two or three little talks here and there. My plan is to remain a King and hopefully finish off my career here. Like I said, I go day by day and you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.”
Lucic has 12 goals and 18 assists in 50 games this season. Though the Kings reportedly want to keep him, the question is whether they can find the cap space to make it happen.
Los Angeles already has Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Marian Gaborik, Kyle Clifford, Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, and Jonathan Quick locked up long term. Plus, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson will require new deals after next season.
Related: Why Lucic is an interesting pending UFA