There's a good chance the only person who was happier than Saku Koivu at the result of last night's 1-0 shootout win by the Montreal Canadiens over the Florida Panthers was Panthers' head coach Jacques Martin.
Think about it. Martin must have been in heaven. After all, he had coached his team to its second consecutive 1-0 loss.
To watch his team give up only one goal in 125 minutes of hockey had to be a huge thrill for hockey's biggest defensive zealot. Forget the fact that not one of his shooters has been able to put anything past a goalie for 141 minutes and 31 seconds.
Â“That was one hell of a hockey game,Â” Martin said after the game.
Gee, Jacques, don't you think it might have been a little bit better had your team managed to put just one puck past Cristobal Huet?
With scoring on the decline this season from last year Â– just look at the numbers lately Â– Martin's words are like a breath of bad air. Just when the league was learning to score again, along come the likes of Martin and his trap-happy pals to try to pull the NHL back into the dead-puck era.
GUNNING FOR 50: Even though scoring Â– and some would argue excitement Â– is down in the NHL, the league is currently on pace to have more 50-goal scorers than it has had in a decade.
Going into Wednesday night's games, nine players were on pace for 50 or more, which would be the highest number since 1993-94, which also had nine 50-goal men.
Currently on pace to record 50 are Brendan Shanahan (56), Thomas Vanek (55), Alex Ovechkin (55), Marian Hossa (54), Ryan Smyth (53), Darcy Tucker (50), Jason Blake (50) and Maxim Afinogenov (50).
DUCKS WIN THE DEAL:The day after Chris Pronger's return to Edmonton provides a perfect time to make an early evaluation of last summer's blockbuster trade.
If the winner of the trade is the team that gets the best player than score a win for the Ducks. Pronger has been nothing short of spectacular this season for Anaheim and is one of the main reasons why the Duciks woke up Wednesday morning sitting in first overall in the NHL standings.
The Oilers, meanwhile, can't be terribly thrilled with the way Joffrey Lupul, the centerpiece coming back, has played this season. With just seven goals and 12 points in 23 games Â– including 3-2-5 in his past 15 Â– Lupul has looked nothing like the breakout player last season who had 28 goals and 53 points for the Ducks. Defenseman Ladislav Smid, meanwhile, has been serviceable playing with veteran Steve Staios.
But in the early going, the Oilers haven't received anything close to market value for Pronger. The first-round draft pick they get this year could very well be the 30th overall. They also get a second-rounder in 2008.
It's interesting to consider that the Oilers were willing to deal Pronger to the Toronto Maple Leafs and would have received Tomas Kaberle in return, which would have represented a much better deal. But the funny thing about that proposed deal was that it was squelched by the Leafs not because of Kaberle, but because they didn't want to part with Alexander Steen, who has been a major disappointment this season and has just one goal to his credit.
Ken Campbell's Cuts appears regularly only on The Hockey News.com. Want to get the inside edge from Ken himself? You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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