Sam Gagner is growing weary of having to peer through a face mask that’s still protecting his fractured jaw. But seeing himself centring the fourth line in Vancouver undoubtedly was even harder on the eyes — not only his, but also those of owner Daryl Katz, who’s paying him $4.4 million.
That decision was made by coach Dallas Eakins, who hasn’t liked Gagner’s defensive report card. He has 11 points in 21 games — roughly his normal production of a point every two games — but he’s minus 12, making too many mistakes when he doesn’t have the puck.
While Eakins is one of his biggest boosters — it’s hard not to like a guy who bleeds orange and blue after seven years with the organization — the coach had Gagner playing with tough guy Luke Gazdic and hard worker Ryan Jones during the humbling 4-0 loss Friday night to the Canucks.
Mark Arcobello played second line with Ales Hemsky and Taylor Hall. Boyd Gordon, just back from rehabbing a sore shoulder, was at centre with Nail Yakupov (only 12