Marty Turco is a popular topic of discussion when it comes to fantasy hockey goaltending and that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. There have been some beefy rumors of a trade involvingTurco and Martin St. Louis milling around lately, which has only added fuel to this fire. But despite the fact he has been one of the best regular season goalies in the league for more than five seasons, until he wins a playoff series debates will always exist regarding whether or not he’s a giant underachiever or a playoff hero ready to break out. But Turco is proving by his recent actions and play that he’s no overrated goalie and things will be much, much different this spring.
Turco is coming off a tremendous Northwest Division sweep that started on Jan. 30 against Vancouver, when he was extremely sharp in making 29 saves to help the Stars defeat the Canucks 4-3. Then he followed it up over the weekend with a 32-save performance in a 4-1 win over the Oilers and then a 31-save performance in a 2-1 win over Calgary just 24 hours later. It may seem like another normal hot streak for Turco owners, but to him, there’s a real transformation taking place and one giant change is proving that the remainder of his season is going to be a very successful one.
Overall, he’s much more focused on his technical play right now than in years past. Unlike most goalies, Turco loves the spotlight. He doesn’t mind getting involved in controversy. He’s very outspoken and he loves to display his tremendous skills against the best players in the world. As upset as he may be about not participating in the All-Star Game, it looks like his absence was a perfect chance for him to press the reset button and take a few days to get some much needed rest - physically and mentally.
Turco has come out of the All-Star break by saying in numerous reports that he made a change in his daily routine by pulling back from some of his responsibilities within the NHLPA and on the competition committee in order to focus on improving his game, simply stopping the puck and doing whatever he can to help his team win, not improve his stats. It may seem like a far cry from the Turco we’ve come to know since 2002, but it isn’t the first time Turco has announced “change” and seen it pay off.
In 2006, the Stars faced the Colorado Avalanche for a second straight season in the first round of the playoffs and for a second straight time, the Avalanche would pull off an upset. Following this loss however, Turco shaves his head, change his diet and scales back his exposure in team and community appearances. It ultimately resulted in a much more consistent regular season in 2007 and the best playoff run of his career after posting a 1.30 GAA and a .952 save percentage in a seven-game series loss to the Canucks. It was a tremendous series for Turco, yet another loss unfairly pinned against him.
Now he hasn’t shaved his head or gone vegan, so what could possibly make you believe this year is going to be any different? The answer lies in the amount of stickhandling. It’s no surprise that Turco loves to handle the puck, probably more than any other NHL goalie. It’s also no surprise that he’s really darn good at it. So good in fact, that there have been numerous times this year and in previous seasons where he’s tried to do way too much with the puck, whether to setup a breakout pass, dump the puck out of the zone on a penalty kill or to aim for the elusive empty-net goal.
He does this so many times throughout the course of a game that it often becomes a matter of him focusing more on how and when he will play the puck next as opposed to when the next shot will come. There have been games when more of his energy goes towards playing pucks behind the net than stopping the puck from going into his net. Call it extreme confidence with the stick or call it an urge to be challenged in different ways, any way you slice it, Turco thrives on the intense moments where failure can devastate you or success can propel you to a level unreached by most goaltenders.
So his maturation process has come by realizing that the less time he spends trying to move the puck for his defenseman and the more time he spends focusing on making quality, technically sound saves over the course of a game, the more energy he will have when his team needs it most.
Turco owners should watch a Stars game in its entirety and count the number of times he handles the puck. You’ll find it’s far less than games at the beginning of the season and all of last year. Even though he’s an incredible stickhandler, Turco has finally realized that less is more. All of that energy and mental focus used to move the puck with such stealth and success will now be used to stop the puck in an even more efficient manner. And it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Stars.