By Mark Madden
The other night, a Penguins player opined to me that Paul Martin would be a more than ample replacement for Sergei Gonchar, and might even be Goncharâ€™s equal on the power play.
Thatâ€™s quite a statement, but it could well be true.
Gonchar was the decadeâ€™s best power-play quarterback, no doubt. But the decadeâ€™s over. Gonchar made a rash of old-man mistakes down the stretch run, and heâ€™s never been worse than Game 7 against Montreal. Goncharâ€™s best bet was adrenaline via a change of scenery. The Penguinsâ€™ best bet was an upgrade.
Thatâ€™s what Martin is, an upgrade. Immeasurably better defensively, very solid when it comes to puck possession and distribution. Seven years younger. Gonchar is more accomplished than Martin on the man-advantage, but if the switch means Crosby or Malkin becomes the PPâ€™s fulcrum, maybe thatâ€™s for the better.