The Bruins did what they had to Monday evening, signing Marty Turco  to a deal that will land the longtime Stars netminder in Boston as long as he passes through waivers.
The 36-year-old Turco hasn’t been a particularly good NHL  goaltender since 2008, and he allowed 12 goals in four games in Austria this season. Still, the Bruins were smart to recognize that without Tuukka Rask  (out 4-6 weeks with an abdomen strain/groin strain), they aren’t in a position to give important minutes on a team trying to get its mojo back to an AHL backup (no offense, Michael Hutchinson).
First Turco, who had a 3.02 goals-against average and .897 save percentage in 29 games for the Blackhawks, must pass through waivers before joining the team Wednesday. Given that Craig Anderson is out for the Senators, Ottawa could claim Turco to make the Bruins’ lives a little more difficult, so keep an eye on whether Turco ends up making it to Boston.
If all goes according to plan and Turco isn’t claimed, it’s a good move. The Bruins could still have a race for the division on their hands and they want to be playing better-than-.500 hockey going into the postseason, so they need to start winning games without exhausting Tim Thomas . For that reason, picking up a veteran goalie who’s won games in this league makes a lot more sense than giving Rask’s starts to an AHL guy or adding them onto Thomas’ workload.
Because Turco signed with the Bruins after the trade deadline, he won’t be eligible for postseason play, assuming he clears waivers and gets to the B’s in the first place. That means that if Rask isn’t ready for the start of the playoffs, the B’s might head into the playoffs with either Anton Khudobin (assuming he’s healthy by then) or Hutchinson between the pipes. This goes without saying on every level, but the sooner Rask can return the better.
If Turco does get to the Bruins and is at the very least serviceable, it will have been a good signing, because this team might have been in trouble if Michael Hutchinson was getting trotted out there for eight or nine games down the stretch. Turco won’t be asked to single-handedly win games for the B’s, but as long as a Turco start isn’t an automatic loss, it’s better than the alternative.
As far as Rask’s situation goes, don’t kid yourself: Losing Rask is a big one. After all, when Rask was at his best this season, he was every bit as good as Thomas was last October, the best month of Thomas’ Vezina-winning season. Rask has struggled in recent games (0-4-2 over his last seven starts), but if he had found a way to return to his November and early December form (four goals allowed over seven games with three shutouts) the Bruins could have entered the playoffs with, as they love to say, two No. 1 goalies. And for all the talk of “keeping Thomas fresh,” the team’s No. 1 concern should be returning Thomas to what he was last year, because what he’s been since late January (a 2.92 goals-against average since Jan. 22) isn’t it.
When Rask was at his best and blanking teams left and right, it was only natural to wonder: If the Bruins fell down two games to none this season, like they did to begin the playoffs last year, would Rask end up getting a game? That question was an easy no last year, but it was at the very least worth pondering in November. If Thomas picks it up again, nobody will need to worry about that, but not having Rask there certainly changes the look of the goaltending situation, even if he isn’t the No. 1 guy.