Saturday, May 17, 2008

Say it ain't Joe

Marty Turco made a solid 38 saves and had an assist on the winning goal as he exorcised some demons in a 2-1 Dallas win at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Turco, who had been 0-9-2 at the Joe going into today's game, had to be at his best as Dallas inched closer to even ground and now trail the series 3 games to 2.

The streak though significant, was misleading. Turco, a NCAA star for Michigan, was 18-5 in games played at the JLA. Could the 0 for 11 have more to do with the powerhouse Wings? Who, year after year are competing for the President's Trophy as the top team in the league. The Red Wings weren't supposed to survive in a salary cap era and instead they have thrived.

About three weeks ago I was speaking with a friend in the hockey world familiar with Turco and his hometown of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The question was raised; does Turco need to win the Cup to be considered a great goalie when his career is done? Will his playoff record overshadow his stellar seasons? Will an arena have his name on it someday? I wasn't sure at the time how to answer but as the '08 playoffs continue, I'd say the answer to all three is yes.

Last September I picked an Anaheim / Ottawa rematch in this year's final. With the same result...unfortunately for Ottawa fans. At the trade deadline, I thought the Stars were the big winners by picking up Brad Richards. Sending a strong message to the rest of the league but also to Turco. Up and coming goalie Mike Smith was sent to Tampa Bay solidifying Turco as the Stars #1 for years to come. I thought Dallas would be an interesting dark horse coming out of the west and they haven't disappointed.

Marty had yet another strong year, tied for 8th in the league with a 2.31 goals against average. When you look at his career numbers, in 382 games he has a 2.15 GAA and a .913 Save Percentage. Compare that to another Marty. Martin Brodeur who someday, if he isn't already, will be the mark by which everyone else is measured. In his 968 games, Brodeur has a 2.20 GAA and a .914 Save %. Now I'm not saying Marty Turco is on the same level now as the New Jersey All-Star but game 6 versus San Jose and today's win at the Joe lay a strong foundation towards a Hall of Fame career. New Jersey has had the defense for long playoff runs. Dallas hasn't always had that luxury.

Will there be an arena someday with Marty Turco's name on it? I'd say there will be. He'll go down as one of the greats in my books. And if he doesn't get a Stanley Cup ring? Well, the kids in my hometown are playing in the Pierre Page Arena. So I think it's a safe bet. And now the Stars know that if there is a game 7 in Detroit, their man between the pipes can get them to the final.

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