For every resounding fact that proves Dave Bolland is the heart of this team and a difference maker, there are opposites stats that prove otherwise about David Clarkson. Now I am not attempting to bash Clarkson, nor am I admitting he was a bad signing just yet. However, it's strange that with Clarkson in the lineup the Leafs seem to be a less productive team.
There are some player that can pride themselves on being game changers, tempo setters, and record aiders, for some strange reason Clarkson cannot have all three attributes at the same time. Clarkson's intangibles are evident in his forecheck, solid skating ability,and quicker hands than I believed he had. Yet, none of these positives equal an above .500 club when he is in the line up.
The leafs are a 16-20 with Clarkson in the lineup and although the record is not impressive their physicality when he is in the lineup is.
Clarkson is playing the type of game that Randy Carlysle wants this Leaf team to play. Interestingly enough, the player that exemplifies Carlysle style of play is proving to be ineffective and the squad is playing better with their run and gun offence. But all hope is not lost Leaf land, since, I HAVE A PLAN.
I believe the solution to the problem is to insulate Clarkson with the type of players that fit his game and the game of the coach. Playing Clarkson with Kadri and Lupul is ineffective as Clarkson plays a North-South game while Lupul and Kadri are definitely East-West type players. I believe once Bolland is back, he will be the perfect centre to compliment Clarkson, with Kulemin completing the trifecta. This type of line would establish a strong forecheck, be a legitimate shut down unit and will be able to score.
The Leafs record with Clarkson in the lineup for now is to me more a statement on the Leafs inconsistencies and less on Clarkson's contributions to the team. His skill is not what got him his massive deal from the Leafs, his heart, hard work, and commitment to winning at all costs are what did. By attempting to elevate Clarkson into a skilled winger, is putting him in an uncomfortable situation where he and his game look confused. Clarkson will prove his worth when the tempo of the games increase right before playoff time and hopefully in the playoffs. When hard work, simple hockey, and a solid forecheck wins you games.
Don't worry yourselves yet Leaf fans, Clarkson's game will come around. Also, a positive for this leaf team is they are still competing for a playoff spot and in only 5 games has this team iced their actual roster.