His name was up there at the top of the league’s lead goal-getters along with Steven Stamkos and Patrick Kane, for a while at least.
Right now, the 28-year-old forward hasn’t lighted the lamp for 12 straight games and it certainly isn’t a coincidence that the Devils haven’t been winning much during that stretch. The Midas Touch that he had at the beginning of the season has vanished.
“I’m getting chances,” Clarkson said when he addressed the media yesterday. “I had two empty nets that the goalie somehow gloves it. So, the chances are there. We’re not scoring as a team. The puck, the last 12 games or so, it’s just not going in as a group. That’s pretty much it.”
Yes, it is, in a nutshell. The Devils’ top guns definitely are not putting the disk in the net, which is what you need to do to win games.
So, what is the solution?
Coach Pete DeBoer said in interviews yesterday that Clarkson and the rest of the forwards need to throw more shots at the net.
“Your natural reaction when the puck’s not going in for you is to maybe get away from some of the things that made you successful,” DeBoer reasoned. “When you look at his shot totals, I think there’s a correlation between getting the puck to the net and the goals that go in.”
Clarkson only has 32 shots in the last 12 games, when he has been cold. In the first 14 when he was red hot, he had 60.
Tonight’s game against their division rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, was another must win for the Devils. Before the game, the Flyers were only four points behind them and the Devils were barely hanging onto the seventh playoff slot. For a change, they got off to a strong start, scoring the first goal for the second straight game.
Midway through the second period, they had a 4-1 lead with the ever dependable Patrick Elias and Ilya Kovalchuk each netting one. Kovalchuk’s was another shorthanded goal. The Devils lead the league in that area with eight.
However, the big man was last year’s Calder Cup finalist, Adam Henrique, who banged home two. Henrique seems to be shaking off the dreaded sophomore slump that has plagued him.
Perhaps the team was listening to the coach, whose advice was to shoot more because for the first time in quite a while, the Devils actually scored more than three goals in a game.
For Clarkson though, the drought continues. The hockey gods are not smiling on him. He rang one off the post.
Dawn Miller is a New Jersey Devils writer for www.RantSports.com. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/dawnsmiller, “Like” her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dawn-Miller/393662124056436 or add her to your network on Google.