For what it’s worth, it has been my theory that Scott Gomez needs certain things to be productive centre in the NHL. The word is “chemistry”. For the most part since he came to the Canadiens, that chemistry hasn”t been there. Substitute the word “chemistry” with “left winger”.
Gomez received that seven million dollar contract from the New York Rangers based on a lockout-interrupted three year stretch in which he averaged 71 points per season with the New Jersey Devils. Brian Gionta was his right winger in those years as he is here. So why is the mere presence of Gionta not enough to fire up Gomez? The two word answer is “Patrik Elias”. When Elias played with Gomez and Gionta, they were statistically the best line in the NHL, outscoring the Thornton line in San Jose.
Gomez is a playmaker. He needs the right kind of wingers to maximize his own game. He had that in New Jersey. It wasn’t there in New York and he’s had less of it in Montreal, not because of Gionta but because for the most part the left side of his line has been third and fourth line. With all due respect to Travis Moen, Mathieu Darche and the others who have been used on Gomez’ left side, they would never be considered Art Ross Trophy candidates. They tried Cammalleri there at the beginning of last year, but his style doesn’t mesh either. They took Gionta off the line earlier this month and added Cammalleri. That didn’t work either. The best description of the Gomez’s left wing was “the place where all puck movement goes to die.”
Now, along comes Max Pacioretty from the Hamilton Bulldogs. I know, it’s only two games so it’s dangerous to get excited, but in two games with Pacioretty and Gionta, Gomez has four assists in the two games they’ve played as a unit. That’s one short of double his total assists through the first twenty-eight games of the year.
When the Canadiens drafted Pacioretty, the description was “potential top six power forward”. His development was somewhat mishandled but it appears what the Canadiens scouting department saw in the draft three years ago has materialized.
Is he the missing link in the rehabilitation of Scott Gomez’ game?
We’ll see. So far I would have to say – yes. .