Hawk fans, it's time to look ahead with Turco

For those who follow my blog (and why wouldn’t you), you already know my position on the Blackhawks signing of Marty Turco.  I was an advocate of the signing before Antti Niemi’s arbitration figure came out. 

When I found out Turco’s salary ($1.3 million), it was a no brainer. 

So it’s over.  Niemi is gone.  It’s time to focus on Marty Turco.

What can Hawk fans expect from their new netminder?

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NHL.com ran an excellent numbers comparison yesterday.

Here’s a look at some of the key numbers for both players:

0 — Trips to the Stanley Cup Final for Turco. The closest he came with
the Stars was in 2008, when Dallas lost the Western Conference Finals to
Detroit in six games.

1 — Games won by Dallas last season on the 15 occasions when Turco
allowed four or more goals. Niemi allowed four or more goals eight
times, but the Blackhawks were 5-3 in those games.

2 — Seasons since play resumed after the work stoppage in 2005 that
Turco has had a save percentage of less than .900. He had .898
percentages in 2005-06 and 2008-09; his .913 save percentage in 2009-10
was his best since 2003-04.

2 — Career meetings between the two goaltenders, both of which took
place last season. Turco and the Stars won 5-4 on Dec. 29, a game in
which Niemi lost despite stopping 13 of 14 shots in relief of Cristobal
Huet. Niemi and the Hawks beat Turco and the Stars 4-3 in a shootout on
Feb. 9.

2.31 — Turco’s career goals-against average, the second-best among
active goaltenders who’ve played 250 or more games. However, he posted a
GAA of 2.81 in 2008-09 and improved only slightly to 2.72 last season.
Niemi’s career mark is 2.32, but in only 42 games.
3 — Seasons in which Turco posted a goals-against average of less than
2.00. He had a GAA of 1.90 in 2000-01 (26 appearances), 1.72 in 2002-03
(55 appearances) and 1.98 in 2003-04 (73 appearances).

6 — Consecutive seasons in which Turco won 30 or more games. He was a
30-game winner in every season from 2002-03 through 2008-09, with a high
of 41 wins in 2005-06.

7 — Shutouts by Niemi as a rookie for the Hawks last season, matching
Turco’s total for the past two seasons combined. The last time Turco had
seven or more shutouts was 2003-04, when he had nine.

12 — Games played by Niemi on Sundays in 2009-10, twice as many as any
other day of the week. He went 7-3-2 in those games. Turco played on
five Sundays, going 0-3-2 — he’d better improve this season, because
the Hawks have 15 games on Sunday.

14 — Road victories by Niemi in his 21 starts away from the United
Center last season. Niemi was 14-3-2 with a 1.91 GAA away from home;
Turco was 8-12-5 in 25 decisions on the road with a 3.04 GAA.

16 — Career playoff victories by Niemi, who matched the NHL
single-season record for wins by a goaltender while leading the Hawks to
the Stanley Cup last spring. His 16 victories in 22 games as a rookie
are only five short of Turco’s career total of 21 — in 47 games.

28 — Career shootout victories by Turco, the fourth-highest total in
the five seasons since the NHL adopted the breakaway competition to
settle games tied after overtime. Turco is 28-22 in shootouts, but was
just 4-8 in 2009-10.

.812 — Niemi’s save percentage in shootouts last season, the best of
any goaltender who took part in five or more. Niemi had a 6-2 record —
including a 3-0 mark at the United Center, where he did not give up a
goal on the 10 attempts he faced. One of those shootout wins was a 4-3
decision over Turco and the Stars on Feb. 9.

.926 — Turco’s save percentage at even strength last season, well ahead
of Niemi’s mark    of .914. However, Niemi had a much better save
percentage during power plays (.899 to .855) and allowed just one
shorthanded goal (on 21 shots) to four for Turco (50 shots).

The thing that excites me the most about the Turco signing is his ability to move and pass the puck.  He is very aggressive playing the puck out of the net, and can make long distance passes down the boards.  He regularly picks up a number of assists over the course of the season, and this year will be no exception.  He fits their offensive style perfectly.

I know it hurts to lose Niemi, but Turco is a very good goalie.  Embrace him Hawk fans. 

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