Play well, and the credit goes to the great defense in front of him. Struggle, and fans would be groaning and longing for Ed Belfour.
But there is nothing like a 10-4-2 start to get the fans behind you early on.
How would you describe Turco's style to someone who had never seen him play?
Like Jim Furyk's golf swing, John Coltrane's furious staccato sax playing or Jackson Pollock's artwork, Turco's jumpy style is so perfectly imperfect that it can hardly be duplicated.
Don't expect to find Turco posing for diagrams in a goaltending manual anytime soon. This is strictly "make it up as you go along" stuff.
Turco combines the puckhandling skills of Martin Brodeur, the daring spirit of Patrick Roy and the flexibility of Dominik Hasek. He does more improv in one night than a standup comic does in a year, and his crease contortions that would make Chinese acrobats jealous.
Turco dominated at both the NCAA and IHL levels, so his impressive beginning in his first campaign as a No. 1 netminder in the NHL shouldn't come as a shock. In 88 games, Turco is 43-21-9 with a 1.91 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage.
He is 12 games short of qualifying for the career GAA, where he would be tied with Alex Connell for the best ever. And he is 1,016 shots against shy of qualifying for career save percentage, where he would top the list ahead of Hasek's .924 mark.
Turco is on a three-game losing streak that has pushed his goals-against average up to 1.77 from 1.63. Not to worry, that still leads the league among regular starters by a comfortable margin over Belfour's 1.98.
Ah, there's Belfour again. While the Eagle started slowly in Toronto, he has been great for the past six weeks, with a nice run for the Maple Leafs coinciding with Belfour's improved play. Wouldn't it be something if the Vezina Trophy race came down to Belfour and Turco?
The Stars play host to Detroit on Sunday and Edmonton on Tuesday before hitting the road on a three-game California trip, starting Thursday in San Jose.
Dallas hopes Turco flops, flails and fights his way deep into the playoffs. With an on-ice repertoire like that, I'm thinking Turco could think of something unique to do for his day with the Cup, too.
The year that was A golden double in Salt Lake City by the Canadian teams gave us memories for a lifetime and showed us how much fun the international game can be at the highest level. Emotional comebacks by Saku Koivu and Peter Forsberg for the postseason stirred our souls. One final Cup for Scotty Bowman -- and finally one Cup for Dominik Hasek -- made Hockeytown hectic with another June parade. And Jose Theodore and Jarome Iginla's award ceremony triumphs, lucrative new contracts and subsequent struggles early in the 2002-03 regular season showed us how fickle this game can be. What a glorious year it was.
The year that will be Three games on New Year's Day kick off NHL hockey 2003-style. So what can we expect for the next 365 days? Another scoring title for Mario Lemieux looks like a lock. With the Canadiens, Canucks, Maple Leafs, Oilers and Senators all in playoff position, a Canadian team in the finals for the first time since 1994 is a strong possibility. And fans north of the 49th parallel wouldn't be too crazy to keep their fingers crossed for the first all-Canadian final since 1989. Another big story of 2003 will be the looming labor strife in 2004. OK, that's cheating to look ahead another whole year, but since the Sept. 15, 2004, date for the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement is already on our mind, it will only become more of a hot topic as the doomsday date gets closer.
Buffalo @ Washington -- Monday, 7 p.m. EST This matchup in downtown D.C. features two teams heading in opposite directions. The Sabres are reeling from five losses in a row and the threat of relocation or folding looming over their head. Meanwhile, the Capitals have won four of their past five and are getting spectacular goaltending from Olaf Kolzig.
Pittsburgh @ Columbus -- Tuesday, 7 p.m. EST Pittsburgh apparently doesn't believe in consistency. The Pens' Saturday victory over the Habs was their fourth win in a row. Pittsburgh lost 10 in a row prior to its current win streak, and had two other four-game win streaks and two other three-game losing skids earlier in the season.
Toronto @ Vancouver -- Tuesday, 10 p.m. EST Those in the Eastern half of North America can ring in 2003 while watching the Leafs and Canucks meet in the final hockey game of 2002. Toronto is 14-5-2 since a disappointing 4-9-2 start, while Vancouver is tied for the lead in the West with 49 points.
Colorado @ San Jose -- Saturday, 10:30 p.m. EST Just 7 1/2 months after playing the best series of the 2002 postseason, the Avs and Sharks will take the ice with new head coaches. Who would've thunk it? Bob Hartley will be polishing his resume in Parker, Colo., while Darryl Sutter will be leading the Flames in his fourth game as Calgary's new head coach. Tony Granato and Ron Wilson are hoping that fresh approaches can get their teams back into the playoffs after slow starts.
Plus: Todd White There may not be a more underrated player in the league than Ottawa's gritty two-way center. Playing with Daniel Alfredsson and Magnus Arvedson, White has 17 points in the past 12 games and has been a key part of the Sens' incredible run over the past seven weeks.
Minus: Darcy Tucker Tucker has a 17-game goalless drought, having not lit the lamp since Nov. 23. And if you count his six-game slump before that contest, he has just one goal in the past 24 games. After a nine-point opening week to the season, expectations were high for Tucker, but with just 11 points since then, superpest Tucker has proven to be all bark and no bite.
Plus: Milan Hejduk While Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg have been nursing injuries, Hejduk has become the Avs' go-to guy. Hejduk has a career-high 10-game points streak, during which he has scored six goals and dished out six assists. Always known for his soft hands and accurate shot, Hejduk has been especially deadly in front of the net, often finding the smallest crack on the goalie's short side and burying the puck in the back of the net.
Minus: Shawn McEachern The Thrashers' captain hasn't had much to be thankful for lately, since his 13-game scoring drought dates to, well, Thanksgiving. McEachern also has just five assists in that stretch and is an atrocious minus-18. His offensive slump isn't for lack of trying, as he has taken 35 shots on goal and still been playing a lot, averaging almost 22 minutes per game in December.
Plus: Martin Straka After suffering a run of incredibly bad injury luck for the past year, Straka is finally healthy and producing at an impressive clip. He has four goals and three assists during the Pens' four-game win streak, and now has 20 points in 19 games this season. Playing with Mario Lemieux and Jan Hrdina on Pittsburgh's new top line, Straka is back in his 95-point form of two years ago.
"That's the mind-set when you're playing a team from the Eastern Conference. You can be a little bit more aggressive offensively because you're not as leery of losing points."
-- Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish, after playing three forwards and one defenseman in overtime and beating the Leafs on Todd Marchant's goal.
"Every game's the same. It's a one-goal game, but we're on the wrong end of it."
-- Sabres captain Stu Barnes, after losing 4-3 to the Wild on Saturday for the team's fifth straight defeat.
"This is not a short-term deal for me. I want the identity of the Calgary Flames back to where it was -- this is a tough town, a tough place to play. Just to restore that is really important."
-- Darryl Sutter, after being hired as the Calgary Flames' new head coach on Saturday.
Barrett Jackman, D, Blues It's hard to get noticed as a stay-at-home defenseman, even more so when you're a rookie. But when you are filling in for the injured Chris Pronger and among the leaders in ice time on a Western Conference contender, the accolades will find you. Along with rookie center Petr Cajanek, Jackman gives the Blues talented first-year players at two crucial spots.
The 21-year-old was the No. 14 overall pick in 1999 NHL Entry Draft and made a nice progression through St. Louis' system. After a standout junior career with the Regina Pats, Jackman had two goals, 12 assists and 266 penalty minutes in 75 games with Worcester of the AHL last season. And with seven points, 79 PIM and a plus-10 rating in his first season in the NHL, Jackman has been everything the Blues had hoped for as a temporary solution while Pronger is out. Once St. Louis' captain returns, Jackman's ice time may drop below the 18 minutes per game he's been playing, but his contributions will remain vital to what has been one of the best blueline corps in the league this season.
Winning percentage (64-173-31-15) for Curt Fraser when he was fired Thursday as head coach of the Atlanta Thrashers.
Goals-against average for Tom Barrasso in six games with the St. Louis Blues this season before being released Saturday.
Average number of goals for the Canucks in Saturday night games this season. Vancouver has scored 17 goals in its past three Saturday games.
Players with more career goals than Lightning Dave Andreychuk. He moved past Jari Kurri into 13th place on the all-time goal-scoring list when he scored his 602nd goal in the first period of Friday's 5-2 win over Boston.
Our latest best guess at what the postseason seeding will look like.
Detroit Red Wings
New Jersey Devils
Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs
St. Louis Blues
Los Angeles Kings
Each week during the season, this space will be devoted to your comments on a particular issue.
Last week's topic: What is your New Year's resolution for your favorite team?
How about the Sabres winning at least one *!@$ game a week? Oh yeah, and maybe they stick around for a while, too. Randy Griffiths, Buffalo, N.Y.
My New Year's resolution for the Bruins is to finally trade Kyle McLaren, preferably for a goaltender. Or if not, someone who will want to play in Beantown. Michael Runtz, Regina, Saskatchewan
To the Carolina Hurricanes organization: Send "The Whale" back to its real home in Hartford. Michael Meehan, Simsbury, Conn.
To have someone actually own the Buffalo Sabres. Maybe when we have a competent owner willing to shell out some money, we can have a competitive team again. And hopefully, Buffalonians will finally be able to forget Wide Right, No Goal and the Forward Pass. Sean Tanger, East Amherst, N.Y.
My resolution for the New Jersey Devils is to get a much-needed scorer for a lackluster offense that just squeaks by due to a good defense
that is aging fast. It might be nice, too, if our GM wouldn't trade away the gritty hard workers and fan favorites who are now becoming stars elsewhere in the league (i.e. Brian Rolston, Bill Guerin, Petr Sykora, Sheldon Souray) and would spend some money once in a while to keep them (Bobby Holik). And they wonder why the fan numbers are down? Lawrence Urban, Helena, Mont.
This week's topic: Which of the teams currently in a playoff position do you expect to fade down the stretch and miss the postseason?
Click here to send us your choice, with a short (75 words or less) explanation. Brevity and humor are good; naughty words and personal attacks are not so good. And don't forget to include your name, hometown and home state/province.
Jon A. Dolezar covers the NHL for CNNSI.com. "Week at a Glance" will appear each Sunday during the regular season.
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