I have decided to tackle a dangerous task today.
That task is trying to explain the logic of the Montreal Canadiens' coaching staff regarding Scott Gomez's presence in the lineup.
As best as I can remember, since Gomez arrived in Montreal, he has never once been a healthy scratch.
Naturally, this has infuriated more than a few fans. After all, the one better known as "Gomer" has a mere two goals in his last 67 regular season games, and a total of only 20 assists in the same time frame!
The only Canadiens in history to come close to such poor numbers — in terms of goal production — were Darren Langdon's zero goals in 64 games in 2003-04, and Tom Pyatt's two goals in 61 games last year. This isn't the kind of company Gomez was expected to be among.
So, then, why on earth are they playing Gomez every single game? Is it because he's everyone's friend in the room?
The answer, I believe, lies in some rather simple stats. Simple enough that, if you're the coach or General Manager of this team, you cannot logically afford to NOT dress everyone's favorite Alaskan centerman.
The first and most shocking stat goes as follows: in the last 20 in which Gomez has collected at least one point, the Canadiens record is an astonishing 19-0-1 (.975).
I now hear the question from here: that's all fine and dandy, but about the other games besides those last 20? It does get a bit worse. But does it, really?
When Gomez scores at least one point, the Habs' record is 38-14-4 (.714). That's the equivalent of a 117 point season. Not too shabby.
Finally, when the Mexican-Alaskan forward collects one or more powerplay point, Montreal's record is 27-8-7 (.726).
What was Gainey thinking?
I often hear people complain, reasonably enough, about the Gomez trade. After all, Montreal gave up, in Ryan McDonagh alone, a solid 2 way defensman who gives plays over 20 minutes per game and is currently second in the league — right behind Josh Gorges — in blocked shots.
In that deal, the Rangers also acquired Pavel Valentenko, who should be with the Rangers next year, Chris Higgins and Doug Janik That's a hefty price to pay for Gomez.
But, to Gainey's defense, when he acquired Gomez, he was the seventh centermen with the most points in the ten previous seasons:
Back in the summer of 2009, this was a pretty nice list of names to be mentionned with. And I remember that most columnists and reporters were asking Gomez if he was willing to learn French, in order to validate the potential they saw in him of possibly being the next Hab captain.
What to do now?
This is where I stop. I'll leave this to people who can assess talent much better than I.
But hopefully, this short analysis will have helped answer the "why are they always playing this guy" question.
Are you surprised by these numbers? What's your take?
Frank Dumais is a freelance writer, currently contributing to HabsAddict.com “Habs By the numbers” weekly column. He writes on current Habs topics, but with a “numbers twist”.
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(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)