EDMONTON, Alberta -- First things first. Before Ryane Clowe can end his season-long scoring drought, he needs to be healthy enough to get back into the lineup.
That may not happen Wednesday night when the Sharks try once again to halt a five-game road losing streak against the Edmonton Oilers as the veteran forward continues to nurse a shoulder injury that knocked him out of Saturday night's game in Los Angeles.
Clowe's failure to score in 25 games puts his name high on the list of reasons why the Sharks' offense has disappeared for long stretches in this troubled season. He hit a career high with 24 goals and 62 points in 2010-11, then saw those numbers drop to 17 and 45 last season.
So how much has Clowe tried to analyze any differences in his current game?
"I don't try to examine it too much, but I have some video that I watch of myself -- good things that make me successful as a player," he said. "You wonder if there's something you did when you scored that you don't do now. It's tough to say."
Coach Todd McLellan does not let Clowe off the hook, saying he needs to start scoring if the Sharks are going to be successful. But he does point out that nine assists by Clowe tie him for third on the team, and that his physical play adds to his value.
But McLellan also recognizes that every game without a goal makes it tougher to get that first one.
"As an individual, you have so much pride that you think you're
Clowe has the dubious distinction of being the NHL player with the most shots on net -- and nothing to show for them. His 59 became the new standard after Drew Doughty scored Tuesday night for the Los Angeles Kings on his 65th shot of the season.
Clowe's name has come up in trade rumors tied to the April 3 deadline, in part because he is in the final year of his contract. He current deal pays $14.5 million, and he doesn't need to be reminded that at 30 this is supposed to be his best shot at cashing in.
"Of course I understand the situation," he said. "I think anyone would be lying if they say they don't think about it."
But Clowe said he knows he contributes beyond scoring stats.
"Me, I'm in a fortunate position in that my game -- I know I play an offensive role, I know I can -- but I've been in this league long enough that people recognize what I bring to the table," he said. "I can be an important piece to a team. If I was relying on offensive numbers to get a contract next year, I'd be putting more pressure on myself and it'd probably be on my mind more."
Sharks (12-10-6) at
6:30 p.m. CSNCA
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