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Auld Give Stars Some Security in the Nets

by Ken Sins / Dallas Stars

Will less be more for Marty Turco? Can the presence of a reliable veteran backup behind the Stars' No. 1 goaltender set up a bounce-back season for Turco?

Those are two of the key issues being addressed as the Stars grind through the early stages of training camp.

Marc Crawford Audio (9.14.09)
Marty Turco Audio (9.14.09)
Alex Auld Audio (9.14.09)
Training Camp Schedule
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Turco had the nightmarish 2008-09 season. Dallas' 257 goals-against tied for the most in the Western Conference, and Turco's .898 save percentage, 2.81 goals-against were numbers he'd rather forget. He got off to a poor start, rebounded during the middle portion of the schedule, and then sagged down the stretch as the Stars missed the playoffs.

"He didn't get off to the start that he wanted, the whole team tried to play catch-up, there wasn't enough confidence in the backup to allow Marty to work at his game,'' coach Marc Crawford says. "We're going to try and insure that he has that ability to work at his game.''

That means Turco will have some breaks to work out whatever issues he might be dealing with at practice. Last season the Stars didn't have that luxury.

Although Turco isn't buying the notion that he was worn down mentally and physically by the end of the season, anyone connected with the NHL will tell you that it's not a good idea for your No. 1 netminder to play in 74 games and lead the league in minutes like Turco did last season.

"I was ready to go every night,'' Turco says. "But we didn't make the playoffs. We didn't have team success and that's the only thing we look at and care about.''

Much of Turco's ironman schedule was due to a lack of confidence by coaching staff in inexperienced backup Tobias Stephan.

Enter veteran Alex Auld, acquired in early July in a trade with the Ottawa Senators. The Alberta native has played for five NHL teams, including a stint with Vancouver when Crawford was behind the Canucks' bench.

Crawford estimates that Turco will start seven games out of 10, with Auld getting the other three.

That's how Crawford liked the division of labor when he coached the Colorado Avalanche and had Patrick Roy in the nets.

"What we'd always do with Patrick was look at the schedule with him and say we want to give you some time to really work at your game during 10-game segments. I think I'll do the same thing with Marty,'' Crawford says.

Crawford says goalies are much like golfers. Getting into a rhythm is critical to success.

"A golfer can be great when he's on a run and maybe doesn't need a lot of work, but most of the golfers need a block of days where they work on aspects of their game,'' Crawford says. "So maybe a goalie will need a day off from a game and two practice days in between, three days to really work at their game. Marty didn't get that last year and that really affected him. So he was always trying to find his game last year. Well, you find your game in practice.''

In addition to his experience, the 6-4, 223-pound Auld brings good size to the position.

For the 28-year-old Auld, the key is staying mentally sharp during the stretches when he isn't playing.  The backup role is still a bit of an adjustment for a goalie that played as many as 67 games for Vancouver in 2005-06.

"It's all about being prepared,'' he says. "It's not too tough. Everyone wants to play, you want to compete for ice time. But I've never had a problem in my career with team-first. If Marty and I are both playing well, it gives the team options. I've been through stretches in my career when you're not playing. It's putting the work in in practice.''

Crawford's scouting report on Auld: "Alex is a very technically strong goaltender that really relies on his positioning and being a guy that keeps pucks in front of him and blocks them. When he's sharp, he's as good as there is. The goal for us is to keep him as sharp as he can.''

Dallas' top two netminders have different styles. Turco is still the top puck-mover in the league, while the taller Auld is more stay-at-home.

"Marty's unbelievable,'' new goaltenders coach Mike Valley says. "It (puckhandling) is definitely something (Auld) is going to work on. You probably won't see Alex Auld handle the puck as much as Marty, but you're not going to see many goalies handle the puck as much as Marty. At the same time, Alex is very capable of it.''

Says Auld: "I'm not going to be as creative as Marty. He has a high level of skill at that. But I can do it simply, focus on making the easy play, and be as effective.''
For the Stars, two veteran goalies should be better than one.


* The White team dominated Monday's scrimmage at Dr Pepper Arena in Frisco, winning 5-0 over the Black team. For the White team, right wing Mathieu Beaudoin had two goals, defenseman Trevor Daley added two assists, and left wing Luke Gazdic had a "Gordie Howe Hat Trick'' - a goal, an assist, and a fight with left wing Francis Wathier of the Black team. Tom Wandell and Loui Eriksson also had goals for the White team while Marty Turco, Matt Climie and Tyler Beskorowany handled the goaltending.

* Crawford praised the White team line of Wandell, Krys Barch and Tyler Shelast. "That was a good line, largely because of the work ethic of Barch and the skating, thinking ability and hockey sense of Wandell,'' Crawford said.

* The team will have another scrimmage on Tuesday at Dr Pepper Arena, from 10:10 am – 11:10 am.

* Crawford said he'll keep about 40 players with the Stars until the end of this weekend before making a major cut. On-the-bubble players will have a shot at impressing the coaches during a stretch of three games in as many nights from Sept. 22-24 when there will be about 30 on the roster. After that, there'll be another cut in anticipation of the regular-season opener.

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