Reviewing the Goals Scored by David Clarkson in 2011-12: Goals #1-11

Clarkson finishes off a breakaway for his third goal of the season - his first off a breakaway. Let's look at the first 11 goals he scored in 2011-12 and find out what kind of goals he scored. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Only 30 players scored at least 30 goals in the 2011-12 regular season and the New Jersey Devils were one of two teams in the entire NHL who had three players who hit that mark. It's not surprising that two of the three were Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise. We may expect them to score that many goals given a full season. The third one, however, was a real surprise. It was third line right winger David Clarkson. Yes, the same David Clarkson who only scored 9 goals in 2010-11. He really did score 30 last season.

Clarkson set career highs in shots on net, goals, and points in the second season of a three-season contract. He became the man in the middle on the team's first power play unit and banged in 8 goals, which tied him with Patrik Elias for second on the team for power play goals. He also set a new season high in shooting percentage. Given that he's never shot higher than 10.8% in past seasons, it's reasonable to expect it to go down. Clarkson did shoot the puck quite a lot, but he also benefited from a lot of good luck. He may be able to get at least 200 shots again next season, but it's doubtful they'll go in at the same rate. We may know that already, I just hope Peter DeBoer and the Devils are prepared for that to happen. Based on DeBoer's comments in this post by Tom Gulitti at Fire & Ice last week, I have my doubts.


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG ATOI SOG PCT
2011-12 - David Clarkson 80 30 16 46 -8 138 8 0 7 16:21 228 13.2

Still, it's unclear from the numbers alone how Clarkson scored his goals. How many were flukes? How many came off rebounds where he just was in the right place at the right time? How many were straight up shots? Did most of his goals come off scoring chances? As with looking at goals against, I think there's value in looking at the 30 goals Clarkson scored in the regular season as well as the 3 he had in the 2012 playoffs. While we probably shouldn't expect him to get 30 goals next season, we may be able to identify where he needs to be and what kind of goals he'll score in the future by seeing what he did in 2011-12.

Since Clarkson scored 33 goals in all, I'm splitting this up into three parts. This first post will cover his first 11 goals. Please set your viewing to wide and continue on after the jump to see the first part of the review of Clarkson's goals from this past season.

About the Review

This is the first time in a while I've exclusively looked at a Devil scoring goals, so this will be different from the reviews of the goals allowed by the goaltenders. As with those review, I have included a link to the NHL.com video of each goal as well as the date of the goal, a running count of what goal it was for Clarkson, and a description.

I also decided to record what kind of shot and goal it was. I'll tabulate it after the third post to see how many of each type did Clarkson score. How many were off just one-touches, where Clarkson just got his stick on the puck? How many came on just shots, where Clarkson had possession for a brief time before firing a wrist shot? How many breakaway goals, goals off rebounds, etc.? I also included the situation to highlight whether it was 5-on-5, 4-on-4, 6-on-5, or whatever. Additionally, I also noted whether the shot came on a scoring chance. Jonathan Willis has a good explanation of what a chance is in the Edmonton Journal. Lastly, I noted whether the goal came off a fluke. This doesn't mean the goal came off an error by the goaltender. I counted a goal as a fluke if it came off an incredibly fortunate bounce (e.g. off a glass support) or some strange angle. The general idea of this is to get a better of understanding of how Clarkson scored his 30 regular season goals and 3 playoff goals from this past season. If you have any suggestions, of course, please feel free to add them.

The First 11 Goals David Clarkson Scored in 2011-12 - A Chart

Date GF Link Shot Type Goal Type Situation Chance? GF Description Fluke?
10/15/2011 1 Link One-touch One-timer 5-on-5 Yes Tedenby takes puck, passes to open Clarkson who slides it in on the right. No
10/21/2011 2 Link Forehand Shot 5-on-5 Yes Tedenby hits Clarkson with pass, Clarkson collects it, and slides it through Niemi's legs. No
11/2/2011 3 Link Backhand Breakaway 5-on-5 Yes Palmieri throws puck into neutral zone, Clarkson knocks it around Schenn into space, he races in and scores on the backhand. No
11/3/2011 4 Link Backhand Shot 5-on-5 Yes Elias intercepts a clearance at the blue line and passes to Clarkson in the slot. Clarkson backhands it through the 5-hole. No
11/15/2011 5 Link Snap shot One-timer 5-on-3 Yes Sykora passes to Clarkson drifting into the left circle. One-timer beats Thomas. No
11/16/2011 6 Link Backhand Breakaway 5-on-5 Yes Clarkson sprung into neutral zone all alone. Rushes to the crease, goes left, backhands it over the pad and in. No
11/19/2011 7 Link One-touch Rebound 5-on-4 Yes Henrique shot is stopped by Roloson, rebound goes out to the slot. Clarkson dives to knock it back into the net. No
12/6/2011 8 Link Forehand Shot 5-on-4 Yes Parise centers it to a wide-open Clarkson in the slot. He sweeps his stick to slide the puck in past a sliding Reimer. No
12/6/2011 9 Link Forehand Shot 4-on-4 Yes A covered Zubrus passes it to a rushing Clarkson. Clarkson touches it once and then fires it in through the 5-hole. No
12/16/2011 10 Link Forehand Shot 5-on-5 No Elias lays it off for Clarkson below the left circle. Clarkson fires a sharp-angle shot and it somehow gets through Bachman's 5-hole. Yes
12/17/2011 11 Link Forehand Shot 5-on-5 No Long pass by Larsson gives Clarkson the puck in a 2-on-1. Clarkson fires one past Price's right shoulder No

Commentary

Clarkson took some time to get going with his scoring, but he became more productive as the months went on. In total, he scored three power play goals (one two-man advantage, GF #5) among this group of 11. As for the type of goals he scored in this group, two came off breakaways (GF #3, #6), two came from one-timers (GF #1, #5), one came off a rebound (GF #7), and six came on standard shots where Clarkson had some possession or an additional touch on the puck. In terms of the type of shots, Clarkson's succeeded more with his forehand for five goals. Though it was a plurality among this first group of 11. He did succeed three times with his backhand, he scored once with some wind up on a snap shot (GF# 5), and Clarkson just got a touch for two goals (GF #1, #7). All but two of the goals came from shots in that scoring chance area on the ice. GF #11 was just above the circles, whereas GF #10 was below the circle and far from the net. GF #10 was the only goal I'd call a fluke because Clarkson just slung the puck on net from a very sharp angle. I'm still not totally clear on how it went in, and I saw that goal live as well as on video.

In watching these 11 goals, I noticed that Clarkson was open on many of the shots he took for goals. OK, it's not a huge, thought-breaking revelation that open guys with the puck scores goals. However, it does reiterate the luck factor in terms of scoring. The two breakaway goals came from Clarkson knocking the puck ahead of players to have half the rink to skate to the net. The Nashville coaches probably weren't pleased that Mattias Tedenby created a little 2-on-1 in the slot and tossed it to an open Clarkson on his right. I'm sure San Jose's coaches were unhappy that Clarkson was all alone in front of the net prior to GF #2. Philadelphia must have been irate when an Elias interception within their own zone led to Clarkson getting a one-on-one to create GF #4. I'm confident Toronto fans were (are still?) absolutely livid that Clarkson was all alone in front during a power play as he swept the puck around a sliding James Reimer on GF #8. And also that no one picked him up trailing before he won the game with GF #9. As great and important as it was for Clarkson to fulfill those opportunities, they wouldn't have happened if the other team didn't get make an error that left him open.

Still, there's a lot to like from Clarkson. I enjoyed him diving for the rebound for GF #7 and I greatly enjoyed his sweeping move on GF #8. He did well to settle the puck before putting it through the goalie's five hole on GF #2 and #4. Clarkson showed he can fire a very good shot like he did on his one-timer in GF #5 and on an odd man rush in GF #11. His backhand shots to finish his two breakaway goals were sweet, too. From an entertainment standpoint, Clarkson provided. However, this group of 11 goals showed to me that Clarkson tends to score most of his goals in a relatively close range and did benefit from luck (e.g. defense broke down, catching the goalie exposed, etc.) even though most of them weren't off rebounds or deflections or other goals we'd associate as a "good break." I sort of expect the second and third groups to show the same, but those goals must be reviewed first before making that conclusion.

Your Take

I have to admit, I can't didn't immediately recall who suggested that I look at Clarkson's goals. When I mentioned it on Twitter through the ILWT account, @kaworus_lover said it was their idea - so thanks to that reader for that suggestion. Update: It was the user kaworus_lover who brought it up back in March. I'm assuming it's the same person, so thanks all the same.

Nevertheless, this is the first part of three. Next week, I'll look at Clarkson's goals #12-22 and then #23-33 in the following week. What did you think of this part? Do you think what I'm tallying makes some sense? What did you learn from these 11 goals by Clarkson? Which ones of these 11 were your favorite? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Clarkson and his goals in the comments. Thanks for reading.

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