Monday, April 7
April 7, 6:35 PM ET
Turco's marks might blow over without Cup
DALLAS -- Marty Turco's first season as the Dallas Stars'
No. 1 goaltender produced the stingiest goals-against average since
World War II and the second-best save percentage since that
statistic began being kept a quarter-century ago.
Now he's got to prove himself all over again in the playoffs.
Turco capped one of the best seasons ever for a goalie by
posting his seventh shutout in the season finale Sunday. The
postgame celebration was even sweeter because the victory gave
Dallas the top seed in the Western Conference.
The Stars open the playoffs Wednesday night at home against
Before he started looking ahead to the Oilers and his first
postseason game, Turco savored what he'd done over 55
Stomping into the locker room in leg pads and skates, Turco
clutched the final puck from a 2-0 victory over Nashville. Someone
had already written 1.72 -- his new GAA mark -- in thick black ink on
a white piece of tape and slapped it across the puck.
It didn't take much prompting for Turco to hold it up for the
"This will be the once and only 1.72,'' Turco said, smiling
wide. "This is something I'll have forever. Nobody can take it
away from me. I can't lie -- it does feel good.''
GAA is the goalie equivalent of a pitcher's ERA. Instead of
calculating runs per nine innings, this stat figures goals per 60
The modern-era record had been 1.77, set by Toronto's Al Rollins
in 1950-51. Chicago's Tony Esposito lowered it by a few thousandths
in 1971-72, but not enough for the rounded figure to change.
Turco was at 1.75 going into the finale. He could've taken the
game off to protect the mark. Instead, he risked losing it and
wound up making it even tougher to beat.
"Anyone who has tinkered around the history of hockey knows
it's a remarkable stat,'' Dallas coach Dave Tippett said.
Although Turco grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, the same
town where Esposito was raised, he didn't have the number taped to
his wall like Tiger Woods did with Jack Nicklaus' records. Turco
describes his objective simply: Let as few pucks into the net as
"This has certainly been a magical year, for the team and for
myself,'' Turco said. "It puts a little mark on my career so far
and it really does feel good. We'll enjoy it for a few hours, but
the playoffs aren't that far away. Those will be on my mind pretty
Turco spent the last two years backing up Ed Belfour, a great
regular-season goalie who wasn't considered a playoff star until
leading Dallas to the Stanley Cup in 1999. He was even better when
the Stars went back to the finals in 2000.
Belfour dipped last season, leading to more ice time for Turco.
Dallas decided not to re-sign Belfour in the summer, giving the job
Hedging their bets, though, the Stars brought in veteran Ron
Tugnutt as the backup. There was even talk of them splitting the
But Turco was superb from the start.
He made the All-Star team and was a big reason the West won in a
shootout. It was during that weekend that Turco met Esposito.
They chatted and snapped a photo together. As they said goodbye,
Esposito told Turco to break the record.
An ankle injury kept Turco out of 18 games in February and
March. The Stars began sliding without him.
Then he came back and so did Dallas. Turco won six of seven
starts, with the only loss coming in overtime. The Stars closed
7-0-0-2 with wins in the last four. They needed every point to hold
off Detroit by one for the top seed.
In addition to the GAA mark, Turco's save percentage was .932,
second only to the .936 by Buffalo's Dominik Hasek in 1998-99. That
was the season the Stars beat the Sabres in the finals. Save
percentage has been kept for individual goalies only since 1976-77.
"I hope everyone realizes what a huge accomplishment that is,''
said Dallas newcomer Stu Barnes, who played alongside Hasek for
many seasons. "This is unbelievable.''
||This has certainly been a magical year, for the team and for myself ... We'll enjoy it for a few hours, but the playoffs aren't that far away. Those will be on my mind pretty soon. ”
||— Stars goalie Marty Turco