Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville raised a few eyebrows when he named Marty Turco the starter in goal for Chicago's 7-4 win at Columbus Tuesday.
After all, the veteran netminder had only played in one game last month. Corey Crawford has supplanted Turco as the top man in net. Despite two subpar performances right before the All-Star break, most of us thought Quenneville would begin the 'Hawks six-game road trip with a rested Crawford in net.
Raise those eyebrows a bit higher, folks. Turco is getting another start.
Quenneville announced Thursday that he was going to put Turco back onto the ice for Friday night's contest in Vancouver. Crawford was in net when the Blackhawks defeated the Canucks 7-1 back in November. Instead, it will be Turco attempting to win his third consecutive start.
Leaving many of us scratching our heads.
Turco stopped some big shots in the third period Tuesday to help keep Chicago in the game. He also played well enough to win the surprise start despite being a bit under the weather, as we found out after the game. We know that Quenneville likes to stay with a winning lineup, but there are a few things that leave me grasping for answers.
Namely, if both guys have had a week off and Turco was feeling ill Tuesday, why was he starting over Crawford?
Hasn't Crawford earned the right to come out of the break and show he can play back to form?
I agree that Turco needs more starts than he had been getting in the last month, but it seems like an odd time for him to get back-to-back games. My guess is that Quenneville could be giving Turco some extended playing time for the following reasons:
1. He realizes he needs both goalies to be in good form as the season winds down.
2. He's giving Turco the opportunity to tune up for his return to Dallas next week, for which he likely will be in goal.
3. Crawford's also not feeling well.
4. He's giving the veteran the chance to win back the starter's job.
If Turco isn't feeling less than 100 percent, as he admitted after Tuesday's win, I don't read too much into this. However, unless there's something wrong with Crawford, there is no reason he should not have been in goal Tuesday over a backup who admitted he felt ill.
Against the conference-leading Canucks, who Crawford has beaten in their building? If Quenneville and the organization really feel Crawford is the No. 1 man in goal, he certainly should be there Friday.
Both Turco and Crawford need time in net. I've said this several times. But it seems like you let Crawford start against Vancouver Friday and Calgary on Monday night. Turco gets Edmonton and Dallas Feb. 9 and 11. If you want to pick the hot man for the Phoenix game, fine.
Perhaps Quenneville wants to send Crawford out against the Flames or Oilers to maximize the chances of his rookie getting back on the winning track. If he wanted a weaker opponent for Crawford to open with, what was wrong with the Blue Jackets?
Turco has the opportunity to get back into the playoff discussion with a big game against the Canucks. It looks like Quenneville may plan on staying with Turco until he loses, so Crawford may have to wait a few games before he sees his first action after the break.
Whatever Quenneville's reasons, Turco is between the pipes Friday night. Let's see if he earns another start. Hold on to your eyebrows.