Clubs such as the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning are desperately trying to trade for bona fide goaltenders — both, in fact, have contacted the Dallas Stars in recent days in efforts to acquire veteran Marty Turco — but the most common weakness in the NHL these days is a lack of scoring.


Goals are down significantly this season — by nearly one a game. Only a month into the regular schedule, a mind-boggling 32 shutouts have been recorded — and by 22 different goaltenders. While goalies such as the Columbus Blue Jackets’


Pascal Leclaire and the Nashville Predators’ Dan Ellis (who?) have been flourishing, gunners such as the New York Rangers’ Jaromir Jagr and Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis seem to have lost their traditional touches.


So what’s happening?

“A problem,” an NHL executive mentioned. “North American fans generally want offence. They don’t want soccer scores in the NHL. Something has to be done.”

The exec attributes the scoring dearth primarily to what has become a familiar complaint — the size of the goalies’ equipment.

“It’s just way too big,” he said. “The nets must become larger.”

Most NHL teams have struggled offensively.

After 14 games last season, the Rangers had 51 goals. After 14 this year (before they visited the New York Islanders last night), the Rangers had produced a mere 25 goals.

The Anaheim Ducks scored 41 goals in their first 15 games last season but the NHL’s defending champions have only 34 after 15 this season.

The New Jersey Devils have scored 32 goals in 14 games this season — four fewer than at the corresponding period last season — but they’ve also notched two or fewer in eight games, going 0-7-1 in those eight.

“Expect the nets to be bigger next season,” the aforementioned exec said. “It’s the only solution — and it’s inevitable."

• We told you here Sept. 14 that MLB would finally get out of the dark ages and introduce instant replay next season — and that’s coming to fruition — and now we can tell you to get set for a flurry of trade activity during this off-season.

Notables who’ll almost certainly be dealt are Carl Crawford (likely to the Chicago Cubs), Livan Hernandez (likely back to the Washington Nationals), Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis, Ervin Santana, Coco Crisp, Miguel Tejada, Jack Wilson, Jay Gibbons and Raul Ibanez.

• We’re told Danny Maciocia has somehow talked his way into keeping his job as head coach of the hapless Edmonton Eskimos.

Offensive co-ordinator Jacques Chapdelaine, however, will be Maciocia’s newest fall guy. Chapdelaine’s out.

In three-plus decades as a columnist and broadcaster, Marty York has built a network of solid contacts and a renowned reputation for his hard-hitting, groundbreaking style. The tradition continues in Metro Sports.