Programming note: Sharks-Canucks Game 1 coverage kicks off tonight at 7 p.m. Comcast SportsNet California with Sharks Pregame Live. Stick around after the final horn for Sharks Postgame Live.
VANCOUVER – Scott Gomez, who missed the last two games of the regular season, will not play against the Canucks in Game 1 on Wednesday.
Gomez is presumably still feeling the effects of a heavy hit in the neutral zone by Dallas’ Erik Cole on April 23.
Todd McLellan said Gomez’s absence affects the club on a number of levels.
“He’s been a solid centerman for us,” McLellan said on Wednesday. “It affects us power play-wise, and what you don’t see or hear, it affects us on the bench and in the locker room.
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“The guy has won two Stanley Cup championships. Over the last three weeks, he’s almost been like another coach for us. On the bench, he’s been able to direct guys to do things the right way and help us out – shift length, and that type of stuff. He’s been a big addition there. He won’t play tonight, but we’ll see where we’re at for Game 2.”
As McLellan mentioned, the second power play unit may suffer without Gomez. Eight of Gomez’s 15 points this season came with a man advantage (all assists).
He registered a power play assist three times in his previous six games before the injury, including April 21 vs. Columbus, and the game in which he was hurt against Dallas when he recorded the primary assist on a beautiful set up to Raffi Torres.
The Sharks’ fourth line will consist of Adam Burish centering James Sheppard and Andrew Desjardins.
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One decision McLellan will have to make before the game is whether or not to play Scott Hannan or Matt Tennyson. From the look of the morning skate, Hannan seems likely to get the nod for Game 1, paired with Brad Stuart.
McLellan wouldn’t commit to Hannan publically, though.
“We will have to make that decision still,” he said. “Come game time, we’ll still be making it. We’ll look at what their lineup is like throughout warmup. We have an idea, but we’re not sure. We’ll go with an inexperienced puck-mover, or we’ll go with a ton of experience.”
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Roberto Luongo starting instead of the injured Cory Schneider had a predictable reaction from McLellan.
“I can tell you the fact that there’s been a lot of debate over which goaltender is going to start here in Vancouver is a much bigger story in Vancouver than it is in the Sharks’ locker room. We’re going to have to beat a good goaltender either way.”