This is not a good situation.
When Bob Gainey traded for Gomez and a day later signed free-agent Brian Gionta in July 2008, he thought he could re-capture their earlier 2005 New Jersey magic. As we’ve discovered, 2005 involved the chemistry of three players, not two. Left wing Patrik Elias proves the theory that the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.
The entire Canadiens organization doesn’t have anyone with the talent to supply the lost chemistry that Elias supplied Gomez and Gionta through two half seasons in New Jersey. The trade for Benoit Pouliot last November was supposed to address the problem and, we all know how that has gone. The farm system is weakest at left wing with only Max Pacioretty anywhere near NHL calibre.
So, unless Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier can find the wherewithall, both in terms of cap space and assets, Jacques Martin is forced to cut and paste in third and fourth line players, on the slim hope of finding a dark horse that works. The best potential in that group, outside of Pouliot, is Lars Eller who Martin appears to be bringing along slowly.
A brief history of the so-called “Egg Line”.
During the first two-thirds of the 2003-2004 season Pat Burns had been using former Canadien Turner Stevenson on right wing with Gomez and Elias. In early February, frustrated by the line’s inconsitancy, Stevenson was replaced by Gionta. Within a couple of games the line took off. Through the final 26 games the unit scored a total of 37 goals. The following lockout year, Elias went to Russia where he contracted hepatitis-A, which cost him the first half of the following NHL season. When he returned, acting coach Lou Lamouriello, following Burns’ lead immediately re-assembled the line. Through the final 41 games of the 2005-2006 season the line led the NHL with 63 goals and the Devils came from 18 points back to win the Atlantic Division. Both Gionta (48 goals) and Gomez (84 points) had career seasons.
Claude Julien took over the club the next year and the magic never returned.
Chemistry – Gomez/Gionta With and Without Elias
After 55 games 5 goals 24 assists 29 pts.
Last 27 games 9 goals 32 assists 41 pts.
After 55 games 11 goals 5 assists 16 pts.
Final 27 games 10 goals 3 assists 13 pts.
After 55 games 20 goals 23 assists 45 pts.
Final 27 games 18 goals 25 assists 43 pts.
After 41 games 12 goals 19 assists 31 pts.
Final 41 games 21 goals 32 assists 53 pts
After 41 games 22 goals 18 assists – 40 pts.
Last 41 games 26 goals 23 assists – 49 pts.
After 41 games 0 goals 0 assists 0 pts.
Final 41 games 16 goals 29 assists 29 pts.
For the second season in a row, Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta are being left to their own devices.