No doubt about it, Kyle Turris is in a slump. The 23 year old centre has struggled mightily since Jason Spezza‘s back injury, and has gone 19 long games without a goal. Although he has 17 shots on goal in his last 6 games, Turris can’t buy a goal. Hopefully the return of Milan Michalek to the lineup will provide a boost to Turris, taking away some of the focus that opposing teams have put on Turris, who hasn’t been able to show he is capable of being the go-to guy in Spezza’s absence. Turris has bounced around from line to line, often being replaced on the top line by either Mika Zibanejad or Peter Regin for spells.
Turris simply does not seem to have the hockey strength to be a #1, as he is easily pushed off the puck and loses battles along the boards on a shockingly regular basis. That is not a formula that works when facing the opposition’s shutdown pair, and it shows. You might be able to get away with pure skill against a second or third pairing sometimes, but as a focal point it simply does not work. The line of Turris, Daniel Alfredsson and Michalek skated together at practice on Tuesday before the Sens left for Toronto. Hopefully the two veterans can help Turris get the gorilla off his back and onto a hot streak.
Turris is better than he has shown over the last 19 games, but his level of production (8 assists) has to be better going forward, because the Sens can’t lean on their goaltending forever. It could be a month before Spezza returns, and if Turris can’t turn it around, he will have a lot of questions to answer. At least he isn’t hurting the team defensively and he has been pretty good in the faceoff circle (at least on most nights), surprisingly for a player who appears to lack upper body strength in board battles.
We will see tonight what impact the return of Michalek will have on Turris’ game. Michalek is good along the boards and could take that pressure off Turris, who can focus on finding Alfredsson for the one-timer, or even better, scoring one or two of his own.