While not necessarily playing bad hockey by any means, Clowe was unable to produce consistently on offense. He went pointless in the season’s first seven games and had acquired just two points through 13 contests. Things looked rather bleak.
“I’ve never gone through anything like that before,” Clowe said. “Coming into the season, I was so ready and then I got behind the eight ball. It (the pressure) starts to build when you close in on 15 games.”
Partly because of his do-anything nature on the ice, Clowe’s teammates were very supportive of him as continued to work on his game.
“The team and the coaching staff kept supporting me and made me feel important,” Clowe said.
What makes the Newfoundland product such an important part of the Sharks is that he used his other talents to help the team even when the points weren’t coming.
Head Coach Todd McLellan was quick to point out that Clowe can be a bear by using his 6-foot-2, 225-pound frame to shield the puck from defenders in the corners or to create turnovers by leaning on opponents who have the puck.
“He has a huge reach and protects the puck well,” linemate and center Joe Pavelski
said. “He’s so strong in the corners.”
After that slow start, “Clowie” has a seven-game point scoring streak and has 18 points in his last 18 games.
“It was funny, to start the year when I thought I had a great game, I had no points,” Clowe said. “Now, if I’m not feeling great, the points are happening. I’m just trying to ride the hot streak.”
In the end, Clowe’s skill set and hard work have been a spark plug in the Sharks continued success.
“He plays a lot of tough minutes and he did have a slow start, but he was aware of it and did the right things to break (the trend),” Pavelski said.
The pairing of Pavelski and Clowe has been a staple for parts of three seasons now and has been a big part of the club’s first place ranking for much of that time.
“He’s a tremendous asset on our line and on our team,” Pavelski said.
“We’re a good combination and we talk to each other a lot to make sure we’re ready every shift,” Clowe said. “We played together all last year and some the year before that.”
One reason for Clowe’s offensive drought could be not having Pavelski on his line earlier this season. Pavelski missed 15 games with a lower body injury.
“I missed playing with him when he was injured,” Clowe said.
Fans marvel at the speed of Patrick Marleau
, the hands of Joe Thornton
and the shot of Dany Heatley, but Clowe has his own niche and is an increasing rare talent in the League. However, it’s not one specific thing, but his overall blend that makes him unique. There are fewer and fewer true power forwards who can skate on the top two lines with skill and still drop the gloves when necessary.
“It’s part of my game to stick up for my teammates,” Clowe said. “I can bring that element if needed, if someone is out there running a teammate.”
Clowe may not ever put up most valuable player-like numbers, but he aspires to an old school type of hockey and is really inspired by players whose talents allowed them to do whatever was necessary on the ice, whether it was playing defense, scoring, fighting or checking. Thus, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Clowe’s favorite player growing up was Eric Lindros, a throwback Hart Trophy winner who could play with skill or drop the gloves.
“Eric Lindros was unbelievable,” Clowe said. “When Lindros was in his prime, we (Clowe and his father) would fly to Montreal or Boston when Philadelphia was in town and usually go to two games.”
Clowe patterns his game that way, but it’s the people around the organization who truly appreciate it.
“He’s unique in that he not only produces offensively, but he can police things no matter who the opposition is,” McLellan said. “It’s a nice combination of assets.
“When he’s at his best, he reminds me of some old school players,” Television Color Analyst Drew Remenda said. “He uses his body to his advantage and plays the puck along the boards well. He crashes the front of the net and can stay there and he can shoot the puck.”
It sounds like NHL scouts should be spending more time in Newfoundland as the Sharks efforts there have been well rewarded.
A BREAK IN THE ACTION
Forward Jed Ortmeyer was absent from practice on Wednesday and will likely miss tomorrow’s game vs. St. Louis.
“Jed didn’t skate today and is doubtful for tomorrow,” said McLellan, noting there may need to be a Worcester callup.
The Sharks will face St. Louis Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The contest will be available on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.