Not What Expected
Entering the season as a No. 1 goaltender for the first time, Peter Budaj has gotten off to a nightmarish start. Being the starter is nothing new to Marty Turco, but things haven't gone much better for him.
It appears the two struggling netminders will be squaring off Saturday when Budaj leads the Colorado Avalanche into Dallas to face Turco and the Stars.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Dallas -140 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5.5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 64% of bets for this game have been placed on Dallas -140 (View NHL Bet Percentages).
Turco, in his sixth season as the top goalie for the Dallas Stars (1-2-1), has started all four of the Stars' games and has a 4.59 goals-against average - nearly double his GAA last season.
"I care deeply about this team and we are trying to straighten this out," Turco told the team's official Web site. "I need to worry about stopping pucks, and it's imperative to have good goaltending if you are going to win in this league. I know what I need to do."
He allowed five goals on 18 shots through two periods Thursday before Tobias Stephan replaced him in Dallas' 6-1 loss at St. Louis. Turco has given up 17 goals in four starts, compiling a .823 save percentage, after going 32-21-6 with a 2.31 GAA last season to help the Stars reach the Western Conference finals.
"Our goaltending has been poor," Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. "Our top players are not playing with the commitment you need to win hockey games."
Budaj, who entered each of the last three seasons as the backup to Jose Theodore (now with Washington), has lost all three starts he's made while posting a 4.38 GAA.
Before sitting out Thursday's 5-2 win over Philadelphia, Budaj had lost three consecutive one-goal games against Boston, Edmonton and Calgary, allowing 13 goals on just 74 shots. In Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Oilers, Budaj gave up the game-winner with 5.4 seconds left.
"I have to find a way to help the team win hockey games and I have to find a way to make that save when it counts," said Budaj, who was 16-10 with a 2.57 GAA last season.
It appears Budaj will be back in net Saturday after coach Tony Granato gave Andrew Raycroft his first career start with the Avalanche (1-3-0) on Thursday. The 2004 Calder Trophy winner responded with 16 saves, and the only goals he allowed came in the second period on a penalty shot and a 5-on-3 power play.
Brett Clark and Marek Svatos gave Raycroft a 2-0 first-period lead as the Avalanche outshot the Flyers 17-2 in the first 20 minutes. Milan Hejduk added his team-leading third goal and Joe Sakic posted his first three-assist game since April 3, 2007, at Calgary.
"I don't know if it's pressure, but you knew you had to have this game," said Sakic, who has 21 goals and 31 assists in 60 career regular-season games against Dallas. "We've played good hockey, we just weren't rewarded. We knew if we kept playing the same way we would get rewarded."
Mike Modano and Stephane Robidas each has four points to lead a Stars club that has converted just 9.5 percent (2-of-21) on the power play.
Colorado is among the league leaders on the power play this season (6-of-25) after ranking 28th in the NHL last year at 14.6 percent.
Saturday is the first of four regular-season matchups between the Avs and the Stars. These rivals, who met in the 1999 and 2000 Western Conference finals, next meet on Dec. 5 in Dallas.
Colorado has lost all four games it's played in Dallas since ending the Stars' 2005-06 season there with a win in Game 5 of a first-round playoff series.