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Another Impressive Turco Milestone

by J. Douglas Foster / Dallas Stars

On the Road with Dotcom

We’ve all known just how good Stars goaltender Marty Turco is for some time now.

Soon, he’ll reach a milestone that could make even the most skeptical hockey fan raise an eyebrow.

With one more victory, Turco will become the 58th goaltender in NHL history with 200 wins. Not exactly exclusive company, but consider the speed with which Turco will reach this milestone and you might think otherwise.

No. 200 will make him the eighth active goalie to reach that plateau. And as long as he gets that one win before he plays 11 more games, he’ll get to 200 wins in fewer games than future hall of famer Martin Brodeur.

Yep, you can read it again. It’s not gonna change.

Brodeur, who could very well go down as the greatest netminder ever (or at least can enter the argument with Patrick Roy), collected his 200th win in his 374th NHL game. Turco is sitting on 199 with just 363 games under his belt. Assuming he gets to 200 before game No. 374 (probably a safe assumption), he’ll be the second fastest to reach that milestone among active players.

Who was the fastest? That’ll be this week’s trivia question. Keep reading for the answer.

As tough as it was to see the Stars’ seven-game winning streak come to an end Thursday night in Phoenix, there are a few things to mention that might bring solace during such difficult and trying times.

Winning seven straight, you see, isn’t such a bad thing. And some pretty good Stars teams in the past have failed to take that step to an eighth consecutive win.

The 1996-97 Stars, Central Division champions and #2 seed entering the playoffs? Never won eight straight.

The 1997-988 Stars, which reached the Western Conference finals before losing to Detroit? Never won eight straight.

The best ever – 1998-99 Stars, winners of the Stanley Cup? Nope. Neither did the 1999-2000 team, which won the Western Conference crown.

So falling short of eight isn’t that much of a failure. In fact, if this Stars team finishes in the neighborhood of those, nobody will remember Valentine’s Day, 2008.

Unless, of course, their significant other forgot the chocolates and flowers. If so, there are much bigger things to worry about than losing in Phoenix.

A year ago, while watching the Stars run roughshod through an often-uninspired group of veterans from Phoenix in seven of the eight meetings, one would have had trouble convincing this party that the Coyotes would be anywhere near a playoff berth in the coming seasons.

But the hats must come off to Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky, just as they did most nights during his playing days. The Phoenix front office cleaned house of any “fat and happy” veterans just along for the ride and another big payday, replacing them with hungry, talented youngsters who were raw and undeveloped – but not lacking in potential.

The result? Well “The Great One” has clearly rubbed off on the desert youth, turning Phoenix into a gritty, slick-skating group that has fought its way into the playoff hunt. In fact, Thursday’s win gives the Coyotes a 3-2 edge on Dallas in the season series, after the Stars went 12-4 head-to-head against the Coyotes in the previous two seasons.

The most notable talent in the bunch is Peter Mueller, the top goal-scoring rookie in the league with 19. Watch him closely, because it doesn’t take him long to snap off a shot, even in the heaviest of traffic. Led by Mueller, the Coyotes have gotten 41 goals from rookies this season – most by any team in the league. The future is clearly bright in the valley of the sun.

You can’t praise just Gretzky and the Phoenix youth, however, When young players mature quickly and adapt to the game, often times a seasoned veteran with strong leadership skills helps shepherd the way. Look no farther than Phoenix’s Shane Doan, the squad’s emotional leader for some time, and their points leader this season (with 57). A gritty, hard-nosed, honest player with a hammer of a slapshot, Doan is doing his best to make sure this group of desert pups gets pointed in the right direction.

Before this season ends, the Stars could have as many as seven players reach career highs in the goal-scoring department.

Four have already eclipsed their previous highs with more than 20 games remaining. Stars points leader Mike Ribeiro has 23 goals, three more than his previous high of 20, set in 2003-04 with Montreal. Niklas Hagman may break his total every year, after setting a career-high last year with 17, only to pass that with 20 already this season. Antti Miettinen, who had 11 in each of the last two seasons, already has 12 this year, while Steve Ott’s nine goals are four more than his 2005-06 total.

The group still on the horizon to set new personal bests is led by Stars captain Brenden Morrow, whose 24 goals this season not only lead the team, but are just one back of his career-high, set in 2003-04. Also closing in on a career high is Jussi Jokinen, whose 14 goals are three shy of the 17 he scored in 2005-06. Stephane Robidas might have to get on the horse a bit, but with four goals he is within reach of the six he scored in 2000-01 with Montreal.

Figured it out yet?

The fastest active goaltender to reach 200 career wins was none other than Chris Osgood, who notched his 200th victory in his 344th career game. If you didn’t guess Osgood, don’t’ be surprised. His numbers almost always seem to be better than anyone realizes. Statistically, he may be the most underappreciated netminder of the past 10 years.

There’s no sensation in this world quite like sitting on a plane that’s fighting through stiff turbulence while watching Ted Striker try to land Trans American Airlines flight 209.

I only hope Robert Stack and Lloyd Bridges aren’t sitting in Ontario airport guiding our pilot down. If he comes out of the cockpit with a sweat-soaked shirt, I swear I’ll never fly again.

Dallas Stars charter, now arriving in gate 39 … gate 40 … gate 41 … gate 42.
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