The New Jersey Devils are struggling to score the last few games. One of the main reasons for the Devils scoring drought is David Clarkson's personal scoring problems. While the Devils scoring drought can't be entirely blamed on Clarkson, he was scoring at a very fast rate at the start of the season. Of late he hasn't even been getting a whole lot of shots. In order to take a look at Clarkson's season, I broke down the 21 games he has played (not including last night's game versus Toronto) into three separate seven game series. Let's take a look at Clarkson's declining level of play.
First Seven Games
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Clarkson's first seven games saw him averaging more than a point per game. What's even more impressive from this streak is that it consisted of four goals and four assists. While Clarkson was scoring at a great pace, his lifetime scoring rate is 0.41 points per game. So clearly this level of scoring wasn't sustainable. Also of note for Clarkson's first seven games was that three of the four goals came on the powerplay and one was a game winning goal.
Second Seven Games
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Clarkson continued to score at a rate of 1.143 points per game through 14 games. Clarkson also had a plus-minus of plus five rather than the minus one from the first seven games. Two of Clarkson's six goals came on the powerplay and he netted two more game winning goals to up his season total to three.
Third Seven Games
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Here is where Clarkson's scoring really took a nose dive. Clarkson put up one assist in seven games. He also had a minus two and 19 penalty minutes. Most of the penalty minutes came from the game against the Senators in February. As we can see, Clarkson had 10 goals in the first 14 games and not a single one in the next seven. Why is this? It looks like Clarkson started limiting his shots. He took over four shots per game in the first 14 games but has since fallen to below three shots a game in the last seven. He is als receiving about the same amount of ice time through all of the games. Also, if you look at Clarkson's shooting percentage, he was shooting way above his career average of 9.8%.
A lot of Clarkson's scoring was also done on the powerplay, which has had its own struggles recently. Perhaps Clarkson is slumping back to his skill level? John happened to look at PDO for Devils players through the same length of games I did. Looking at his entire season, Clarkson is actually under 1000 by a bit. This means that he could be getting unlucky this season.
Overall, Clarkson is still having a great season for himself. He leads the Devils in goals and is third in points behind Patrik Elias and Ilya Kovalchuk. He's also fifth in the NHL in powerplay and game winning goals. He is on a line with Travis Zajac and Patrik Elias, he should be able to turn his scoring woes around. Also, with the Devils recent scoring slump, Clarkson getting back on track would be great for the team. Do you think Clarkson will turn his slump around or was Clarkson just getting lucky earlier this season?