Despite his recent struggles, Marty Turco is still a (slightly) above average goalie

Thumbnail image for depressedturco.jpgMarty Turco is in a rough spot right now. There simply aren’t a whole lot of options for a veteran goalie in a netminder market gone considerably dry.

Tomorrow night, I’ll take a look at a few semi-reasonable possible destinations, but honestly, he might be the equivalent of a hockey goalie hitchhiker at the moment, hoping that someone somewhere will pick him up on a whim.

Before I get into who might give him a chance at redemption, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at his post-lockout struggles.

Adam Gretz of NHL Fanhouse had a nice breakdown that featured three hypotheses for why Turco has struggled. Before I get to those, here’s a screen grab of a very telling pre vs. post lockout comparison for Turco’s career from Gretz’s post. (click to enlarge)

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(Note: The post-lockout sample is obviously MUCH larger, so you might want to take that into consideration when looking at the undeniably telling contrast.)

If you’re curious, here is how I feel about Gretz’s hypotheses. His first guess, “The Trapezoid Rule” might account for a bit of discomfort for Turco, but I doubt it had much of an impact. “Declining athleticism” might have a tad bit to do with his struggles – he is already 34 years old – but I think that the league, in general, is becoming an unfriendly place for unorthodox goalies. Sound positioning, on the whole, is becoming a lot more valuable than abstract goalie expressionism.

The strongest point (one I’d guess Gretz feels the most favorable toward, as well) is that the defense in front of Turco dried up considerably. As the Stars shifted from a veteran defensive lineup featuring the criminally underrated Sergei Zubov to a young, shaggy-dog group lead by (not so young) Stephane Robidas, things started to fall apart in front of the puck-moving netminder. It doesn’t help, either, that Turco lost a sharp defensive-minded coach in Dave Tippett for … well, whatever you want to call Marc Crawford.

The problem is that NHL GMs may look at Turco as the mere beneficiary of a great defensive system. He missed the playoffs two years in a row, isn’t getting any younger and has been prone to his fair share of brain farts.

After a truly disastrous 08-09 campaign (he finished the year with a sub-90 percent save percentage but was even worse in the beginning of the season), Turco actually had a respectable save percentage (91.3) but only went 22-20-11 in 09-10. At times, he was out-played by temporary backup Alex Auld and then relinquished some starts to Stars goalie of the future Kari Lehtonen.

Now, anyone who expects Turco to bounce back to the form he showed in his first three seasons (once at a magnificent 93 percent save percentage and 1.72 GAA, two more times above 92 percent and twice under two goals per game allowed) is dreaming. Still, he’s played in nine NHL seasons and only dipped below the standard 90 percentage mark twice. He tends to hover around 91 percent, which I’d say makes him a clear starter, even if he’s not always at an All-Star level.

In other words, Turco is a worthy NHL goalie. The often-cocky goalie might need to get a little more realistic about his own aging abilities, though. I’ll discuss some semi-reasonable possibilities on Monday (none of which, mind you, are outrageously promising), but my ultimate finding is that Turco is worthy of an NHL job somewhere. Even if it’s a 1a-1b situation.

Overall, he needs to accept the fact that a starting job won’t come easy, if it comes at all.

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    High-flying Bruins (sounds weird to say) beat Rangers for fifth straight win

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    Somebody tell the Boston Bruins there’s a goal-scoring crisis in the NHL.

    This afternoon, for the 14th time this season, a Bruins game featured at least six goals. The final score was 4-3, as Boston came back to beat the Rangers in a wildly entertaining Thanksgiving Showdown on NBC.

    David Krejci scored the winner with 1:43 remaining. Krejci’s goal came just 2:03 after teammate Ryan Spooner had tied it on the power play.

    The win was the Bruins’ fifth straight. Though the defensive mistakes remain…

    …Claude Julien’s troops have been finding ways to overcome them.

    The running and gunning Boston Bruins.

    When was the last time you could call them that?

    Goalie nods: Prized Jets prospect Hellebuyck makes NHL debut

    Joshua Morrissey, Jason Pominville, Connor Hellebuyck
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    The future of Winnipeg’s goaltending will be on display tonight in Minnesota.

    Connor Hellebuyck, the highly-touted prospect that starred for Team USA at the 2015 World Hockey Championships, will make his NHL debut today when the Jets take on the Wild at Xcel.

    Hellebuyck is up with the Jets following an injury to No. 1 (or, “No. 1”) netminder Ondrej Pavelec, who’s out until January with a lower-body injury. An AHL All-Star a year ago, Hellebuyck arrived in Winnipeg with great fanfare and it’ll be interesting to see how he responds to the hype and pressure that come along with his first-ever big league start.

    For the Wild, Devan Dubnyk‘s in goal.


    Corey Crawford goes for Chicago in Anaheim. No word yet on who the Ducks will have in goal.

    Braden Holtby starts again for Washington, as the Caps host the Bolts. Tampa Bay has yet to name a starter, much like the Ducks.

    Marc-Andre Fleury takes on Sergei Bobrovsky in Columbus tonight, as the Blue Jackets host the Penguins.

    Mike Condon is back in the starter’s role for Montreal with Carey Price sidelined, and his first order of business is a road date against Cory Schneider and the Devils in New Jersey.

    Cam Ward faces Chad Johnson as Buffalo welcomes the ‘Canes.

    — The Isles will start Jaroslav Halak in Florida. The Panthers will counter with Roberto Luongo.

    Cam Talbot finally gets back into the starter’s role tonight in Detroit. Jimmy Howard will go for the Wings.

    — It’s Ryan Miller versus Antti Niemi as the Canucks take on the Stars in Dallas.

    — Even though Jonas Hiller is healthy and Joni Ortio‘s in the minors, Calgary will stick with Karri Ramo in Arizona. The Coyotes are going with their No. 1, Mike Smith.

    ‘We’re still right in the hunt for everything’ — Parise will play tonight versus Jets

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    For the first time since Nov. 5, Zach Parise will suit up for the Minnesota Wild.

    The team confirmed today that Parise will be in the lineup tonight at home versus Winnipeg. The 31-year-old forward has missed the last eight contests with a sprained MCL.

    The Wild were 7-2-2 before Parise got hurt. They lost the game against Nashville in which he suffered the injury, then went 4-3-1 without him.

    “I’m just hoping to get back to form as quick as possible and go from there,” Parise told the Star Tribune. “I’m not thinking I need to score right out of the gate, I just want to play. … We’re still right in the hunt for everything. We’ll be fine.”

    After ’embarrassing’ loss to Sens, Stars motivated for Canucks

    Milan Michalek, Antti Niemi
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    The Vancouver Canucks will face a pretty motivated Dallas Stars team tonight at American Airlines Center.

    Blame the Ottawa Senators. They were the ones who smoked the Stars, 7-4, on Tuesday.

    “It brings you back down to earth,” captain Jamie Benn told the Stars’ website. “You learn that any team can come in here and whip your butt. It was embarrassing for us, especially in our home rink and in front of our home fans. We don’t want that to happen again.”

    The Stars have had their way with the Canucks in recent years. The last time Vancouver won in Dallas was Feb. 21, 2013. Since then, victories have included scorelines like 5-1, 4-1, 6-1, and 6-3.

    The Stars have already hosted the Canucks once in Dallas this season. On Oct. 29, they fought back from a 3-1 third-period deficit to win, 4-3, in overtime.

    Dallas (17-5-0) has yet to lose consecutive games this season.