Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Breaking down the Stars - Wings Part 1: the next round of Goalie H-O-R-S-E

Before I get into any of my pre-series buffoonery, the YouTube Gods demand that I embed the two jaw dropping saves of that epic 4 OT game:

OK, now that I've got that out of my system, lemme do my best to breakdown the Stars-Wings series. Since there's an agonizingly long break (Thursday? RAAUGH I can't wait that long!!!) between games, I figure I might as well breakdown the bejesus out of this series. So I'll chop it up into a few digestible chunks, starting with the netminders:

Marty Turco vs. Chris Osgood/the rotting corpse of Dominik Hasek

If this were just NHL '08 (why can't everything in life be NHL '08, honestly?) then it would be an easy call to choose Marty Turco. And although Turco has had his catcallers and doubters when it comes to big game performances, few goalies in the history of the NHL have received more semi-unfair abuse than Chris Osgood.

Note: I know that Osgood let up an infamous goal back in the mid-90s, one of those career-defining gaffes. But I cannot remember what team it was against and YouTube seems to only have positive Osgood clips. But then I realized that Osgood would live on in YouTube immortality for the Roy fight, not that gaffe:

*Sigh* Simpler times. Scott Burnside did a solid little breakdown of the series on ESPN:

"Osgood leads the league with a 1.52 goals-against average and a third-best .937 save percentage. Turco has a 1.73 GAA and .929 save percentage."
But there are some disturbing statistics that Burnside overlooked, and they paint an interesting picture that makes you wonder if the Red Wings are in Turco's head. Stars fans might want to burn their eyes or at least look away from the screen at these disturbing statistics:

"The former University of Michigan star is 2-10-5 lifetime against the Red Wings, which includes an 0-7-2 record in Detroit, where he has posted a 3.38 goals-against average and awful .882 save percentage."

Yikes. Still, there's no doubt that Turco is on Old Man Momentum's speed dial this year. Breaking the Stars' single playoff game record with 61 saves is the icing on his playoff redemption sundae.

No doubt about it, Chris Osgood has been putting up bananas numbers all year. But it's difficult to tell how much of that is chalked up to the luxury that is roving supercomputer on skates Nicklas Lidstrom making the right play basically every moment he's on the ice (not to mention the benefits of playing behind Mike Babbock's brilliant puck possession system). Still, Osgood is an experienced, solid goalie who won't lose the game/pull a Carey Price for his typically superior team.

Check out Osgood's scouting report (which includes an uncalled for potshot "has always had trouble with long shots") and see his expansive playoff experience. And you never know when the man with the Slinky Spine might come back from the dead again.

It's difficult to hate Osgood, especially considering the abuse he's faced over the years, but Turco has to be the pick as the top goalie in this series. Turco's world-class ability to play the puck gives a lot of teams fits and it might just be a skill that grants the Stars an occasional reprieve from the Red Wings collective hockey IQ.

It also doesn't hurt that he's had two tough series to really get his swagger back, while the Wings absolutely annihilated an Avalanche team that, let's face it, probably didn't deserve to be in the second round. Sometimes an easy series can be poison for a great team's rhythm.

There's basically two ways this goalie matchup can go: either both guys will have zero margin of error (good) or Turco will have to conjure the ghost of 2003 J.S. Giguere simply to keep the Stars from getting destroyed (bad). If it's more of the coin-flip-it's-anybody's-game variety, the Stars just might have a chance to make a few octopus-chucking hands clammy.

But this is the scariest, smartest Red Wings team since well before the lockout.

Goaltending Advantage: Stars.


mc keeper said...

FYI the Osgood goal in question was a center ice shot by Jamie Langenbrunner in OT of game 5 of the '98 western conference finals. He also got beat from center ice by Al MacInnis the previous round to send a game to OT, which the Wings ended up winning.

Agreed that Osgood has always had the rep of being fortunate to have played for the Wings all these years, but in fairness, he did help get the Islanders and Blues to the playoffs when he played there, and has put together a pretty good NHL career.

Earl Sleek said...

Any fighter of Roy is a friend of mine.

Mike in OC said...

I would like to point out how incredibly awful Osgood was at this year’s all-star game. He was bad. I always thought of him as a good goalie, not a great one, but good while he was in his prime, now, I think he is suspect.

Wings have the team speed to beat the Dallas game, but if Osgood is not playing very good, read: slightly above average, Dallas will beat them.

I think Dallas is way better than Nashville, and they almost beat this years wings. That should count for something as well. (I am not sure what though)

Nick said...
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Bryan said...

Big goaltending advantage Stars. Turco takes a lot of crap I think. But there aren't too many goalies in the NHL I'd rather have on my team than Turco. Add with his puck plaing ability, and I really don't know who I like better than him aside from Luongo or Broduer.

Matt in Dallas said...

Believe me, whenever the Stars play the Wings, those of us in Dallas get to hear ALL about Turco's record ad nauseum. It's like the Dallas media can't wait to say how "horrible" he is against Detroit.

And for the most part, he HAS played sub-par against them. But what goalie has ever dominated the Wings? I generally believe things tend to even out and he may be on the upside of getting that record back near .500. He shutout the Wings at home this year. There was also that interesting year in 2003 where they tied all 4 games they played. He's also missed out on 2 of the road wins in Detroit recently because of goalie rotations. To be fair, Mike Smith played one game because A) they wanted to throw him in the fire or B) they didn't want Turco to absorb another L.......take your pick.

Either way, I don't think Turco has been in any way terrible against them, but I do believe this is another monkey the Stars have a chance to cast off their backs. The way he's playing now gets me revved up about his confidence and his chances.

RudyKelly said...

Turco is better than Osgood, but the Red Wings do such a great job limiting opportunities and nice shots that it doesn't really matter. If you can get chances on Osgood, you can beat him.

And Osgood was atrocious during the All-Star game, but he wasn't as big a disgrace as Nabokov. Poke-checking during a trick shot contest? Disgraceful.

Mr. Plank said...

Advantage definitely goes to Turco, he's been brilliant in the last two series against the Ducks and Sharks. It's funny to be talking about the Stars on this site after they took out both Californian teams in the playoffs.

It's sort of difficult to gauge how big of a factor Osgood needs to be though- like you mentioned Detroit's D is solid and their puck possession game squeezes the life out of an offense. What it comes down to is putting more pucks in the net than they did against San Jose- on average they scored a goal every 31 minutes of play. Now that mammoth game six may have a lot to do with it, but the way I see it Turco is going to have to be a whole lot better than Osgood in order to have a date with Lord Stanley.

Nick said...

Judging a goalie based on all star game performance is goofy.

Osgood has been pretty solid for the most part these playoffs. Has he been better than Turco? I dunno, they've both been fairly good. My bottom line is that I don't see where all the osgood hate comes from, he's played well this year.

Earl Sleek said...

My bottom line is that I don't see where all the osgood hate comes from, he's played well this year.

Not to be obtuse, but what Osgood hate are you talking about? I think most everyone's agreed that in games that matter (everything but the ASG) he's been more than fine.

Nick said...

Not necessarily talking about you guys, in general the blogs have been a-buzz with the Red Wings dire goaltending situation. Going into the Colorado series all we heard about was how great Jose Theodore was and what a liability Osgood was

Earl Sleek said...

Ah, that makes sense. No, the only goalie we typically bash on this site goes by the name Dan Cloutier.

Or whoever happens to be in L.A.'s crease that day.