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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    Senators’ Ryan Dzingel drilled in the head with a puck (video)

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    We already saw one lacerated leg, and now we have a one-timer drilling a player in the back of the helmet.

    Saturday night hasn’t been so kind.

    Ottawa Senators forward Ryan Dzingel was forced to leave the game after some friendly fire against the Columbus Blue Jackets in a 2-1 loss.

    Dzingel was drilled in the back of the head from teammate Mike Hoffman‘s one-timer of the back of his helmet around the mid-way point of the third period.

    Dzingel remained down for a time but was able to skate off the ice with some assistance from Ottawa’s trainers.

    He did not return to the game.

    If you watch this closely, you will see Dzingel’s No. 8 on the back of his helmet fly off after contact with the puck.


    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    Bruins’ David Backes suffers leg laceration in collision (video)


    A scary scene unfolded in the first period between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the visiting Boston Bruins on Saturday night.

    David Backes and Yanni Gourde came together in the Lightning crease, with Gourde’s skate appearing to cut Backes on the outside of his right leg.

    Backes was able to make his way to the Bruins bench on his own, but he was clutching the back of his leg before getting some help down the tunnel.

    Backes did not return to the game.

    The Bruins said that Backes suffered a laceration above his right knee, which required several stitches to close.

    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    Dundon, Hurricanes suspend search for new GM: report


    The Carolina Hurricanes’ search for a general manager is on hiatus.

    Sportsnet’s John Shannon reported Saturday that the process of replacing former GM Ron Francis is being put on hold for the time being, citing that owner Tom Dundon needs more time.

    “Tom hasn’t had the time he needs to do face to face interviews and feels that waiting will pay off,” Shannon wrote in a tweet.

    Francis was removed from his post as GM on March 7 and “promoted” to a new role as president of hockey operations. There was only one catch: whoever replaced Francis would bypass the Hurricanes’ legend and report directly to Dundon.

    The search, thus far, hasn’t been going that well, with three potential targets already withdrawing any interest they were thought to have had.

    Part of that problem could be how hands-on Dundon appears to want to be. Part of it could just be timing. Fenton, for instance, could be on his way to a Stanley Cup ring this year in Nashville.

    Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman touched on the situation in a recent 31 Thoughts column.

    “I think what I’m looking for, is we have to be comfortable with each other. That’s the most important thing,” Dundon told Friedman when asked what he wants in a new GM. “I actually like to disagree and argue. I don’t want someone to come in and just do what I say, and I don’t want to make decisions. Someone to create a structure of how something is a good idea, and now we are going to get it done.”

    You can add Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM Bill Guerin to the list:

    I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that Dundon wanting his hands all over the team — including whatever the GM is doing — isn’t the best selling point.

    There’s some good, young talent on the Hurricanes for a new GM to come in and build around, but there’s also some dead weight, including what’s turned into a bad contract with goalie Scott Darling.

    No GM wants to play puppet for an owner.

    TSN’s Pierre LeBrun said the Hurricanes will suspend their search until the summer when a larger crop of candidates reveals itself.

    Still, you have to wonder who’ll be willing to take that plunge. Someone will, of course, but people haven’t exactly been lining up to fill the role.

    UPDATE: On Headlines on Saturday, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported that the salary being offered to a prospective GM in Carolina is $400,000, to which he said he doesn’t see any GM taking as it’s too low. Friedman, meanwhile, believes the search for a new GM is not on a complete hiatus.

    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    St. Patrik Laine has Jets looking like perennial contender

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    The Winnipeg Jets can thank their own St. Patrik for their success this season and potentially for years to come.

    Patrik Laine was the consolation prize in the 2016 NHL draft behind generational talent Auston Matthews. But he has been a cause for celebration in Winnipeg as a franchise-changing superstar at age 19.

    Mathieu Perreault saw the power Alex Ovechkin had to alter the direction of the Washington Capitals and turn them into a perennial playoff team and Stanley Cup contender. When Laine arrived from Finland, the winger started doing the same things in Winnipeg.

    “The organization wasn’t having a whole lot of success, and then they get Ovi as a young kid and he starts scoring goals, and all of a sudden the team starts winning,” Perreault said.

    “They became a very dominant team for many years. So you kind of sense that here, where the team’s been struggling for many years, not making the playoffs. And then you get this young kid coming in and scoring goals for your team and helps your team win games. I think coming up in Winnipeg we’ll have a dominant team for many years.”

    That’s because Laine is already a dominant player. With 16 goals and eight assists in his past 14 games, Laine has the longest point streak by a teenager and already passed Wayne Gretzky for the most goals by a player before turning 20.

    The best part for the Jets? Laine is just getting started.

    “It’s really impressive when you factor in he’s still learning the game,” coach Paul Maurice said. “His scoring has taken off of late, but so has his game, his all-around game. … He’s an impressive young man at 19. At any age, those numbers would be elite. But at 19, that’s pretty exciting because there’s lot of room as he physically matures, for his game to change and become a power forward and a big, strong man who can score off the rush. Take pucks to the net. There are lots of places Patty is going to improve over the years.”

    Laine is drawing comparisons to Ovechkin for his shot, which teammates and opposing goaltenders say is even more deceptive than the Russian 600-goal scorer ‘s blast. Capitals goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who has taken Ovechkin shots in practice for years, said Laine’s long stick changes the angle of where the puck is going.

    “He shoots it, he pulls it in a little bit weird – long stick – and makes it really hard for us to read,” Grubauer said.

    As much as Laine looked up to Ovechkin as a kid, the respect is now mutual. When Ovechkin scored twice Monday to reach 600 and get to 42 this season, Laine answered with his 41st and showed he has what it takes to go goal-for-goal with hockey’s best.

    “He’s a great talent and still young and still can produce lots of dangerous (chances),” Ovechkin said.

    Laine said it has always been a goal to win the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the league’s top goal scorer, and he’s in the race to do that. Entering Saturday, he’s one behind Ovechkin and one ahead of Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin.

    “It’s always been one of my dreams to win it,” Laine said. “It’s good motivation for me.”

    Laine is also motivated by trying to help set the Jets up for the playoffs and make a long run this spring. Winnipeg has been banged up and secondary scoring has been hot and cold, but Laine’s scoring pace has his teammates believing anything is possible.

    “You give him one opportunity and it’s in the back of the net,” Perreault said. “Right now every shot it seems goes in. It helps us win games when he scores like that. It’s been fun to see.”

    Maurice doesn’t know what he sees as Laine’s ceiling, but doesn’t think it matters. As Laine’s game rounds out, he’ll face different kinds of defensive challenges, and then it’ll be up to him to prove he can sustain scoring the way Ovechkin has over the past decade-plus.

    “The overall game Patty will play will become far more important than whether it’s 40, 50 or whatever that number (of goals) ends up being,” Maurice said.

    “At some point, Patty is going to play 20 minutes a night. Maybe not at 19, but when that happens, he’ll be playing against the `A’ group. It’s not as easy to keep scoring like Ovechkin has when you move up the lineup and you play more minutes and you play against the other teams’ best.”