DALLAS – Scott Gomez will return to the Sharks lineup on Saturday against Dallas, playing in the middle of Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski, head coach Todd McLellan said shortly before the game at American Airlines Center.
Gomez has sat out three of the last four games, but will take the place of the suspended Ryane Clowe, who has a disciplinary hearing with the NHL on Monday.
“I’m just happy to be back in the lineup and I want to contribute. I want to help,” Gomez said before the game.
McLellan said: “He is going to get an opportunity that maybe he’s been waiting for tonight with his linemates. He’s got to make good on it.”
The remaining line combinations for the game were unclear, although James Sheppard has been activated from injured reserve and is also available.
Gomez has two assists in 10 games and a -3 rating since signing with the Sharks as an unrestricted free agent on Jan. 23.
What would McLellan like to see differently from Gomez?
“It’s not so much the creativity and the offensive part, but if that’s not there, you can’t leave us short at the other end of the rink, and that’s happened a little bit. Not just with him, but with other guys,” McLellan said.
Gomez said: “You earn what you get out there, and I’m just more excited to be on the ice than looking at you guys (the media) all during the game.”
The Sharks are desperately trying to kick-start their offense, which has scored two or fewer goals in 10 of the last 11 games.
“I think some of our players are struggling with the fact that the game is a north-south game now,” McLellan said. “You can’t take the puck up and slow the play down through the neutral zone, or as you’re entering the blue line, because teams just catch you.
“We’re trying to work through that. We’re trying to get the tempo up at the blue line, drive the puck deeper so more offense can be created and we become a faster team. But, we’re fighting it a little bit.”
The Sharks have lost seven of eight (1-5-3) since starting the season 7-0-0.
“The main thing is we’ve got to start winning,” Gomez said. “We’ve got to start finding something. We’ve got to start scoring goals. Our goaltending and defense have been outstanding, and it’s a challenge for us forwards now. You’re not going to win many hockey games scoring one goal.”