The majority of fans in Habs Nation have left Scott Gomez out to pasture His lack of offensive production, along with his $8 Million salary, have left a bitter taste in our mouths. While much of the blame can certainly be attributed to the player himself, there are other mitigating factors that must be addressed.
Beginning with his lack of point this season, Gomez has become more of a perimeter player than he was in previous seasons,. One can blame this on an unwillingness to engage himself up the middle, for fear of being manhandled physically by the bigger and stronger opposition defenseman. However, before you can say that, you must look at his work along the half-wall and ask yourself, “Is he really afraid of getting hit?” My answer is certainly not.
Another reason is his age, and the possible slow down that comes with getting older. People have convinced themselves that that is the case, but it’s not his age that’s the problem. The answer lies in some little known information, that was kept hush-hush by the New York Rangers. In November 2008, Gomez sustained a significant leg injury while in his second season as a Ranger. With his obvious inability to generate speed upon his return forced him to change his playing style. It was a change the Rangers were unhappy with, and one that went unnoticed by the Canadiens’ front office, especially one Pierre Gauthier.
Then there is the obvious, the rotating carousel that is the lines put together by Canadiens’ Coach Jacques Martin. Scott started the season with Benoit Pouliot and Brian Gionta at his side. With the lackluster performance of this combination coming out of the gate, Andrei Kostitsyn was moved to the Gomez line, Pouliot to the third line, and Travis Moen to the second. Later on, Mike Cammalleri was moved to Gomez’s right, while Gionta was sent to play with Tomas Plekanec, and on, and on…. Changes such as these don’t let players established any type of chemistry with his linemates. Only when the Canadiens called up Max Pacioretty and put Gionta back on the right wing did Gomez finally start producing on a semi-consistent basis. When Patches went down with injury, it all went back to square one.
There was a time in his career that Gomez used his wrist shot more often than his slap shot, that normally goes right over the net. He has, however, abandoned his wrist shot, as well as his propensity to attack up the middle, allowing his wingers to drive the net hard. You can chalk it up to line juggling confusion, or age, or whatever the hell you want. The bottom line is that Gomez has to simplify his game, attack with speed up the gut and distribute the puck to his wingers. Like Gionta, Forcing plays will get Gomez further into Habs Nation’s doghouse. The only way out is if he throws us a bone, and shows Montrealers what kind of a player he really is.