With new success comes a new set of challenges.
With 10 goals already this season, David Clarkson is becoming the target of opposing teams. On display in Newark Monday afternoon, the Ottawa Senators made a point to stick it to Clarkson a little bit. He was the target of many body checks and was particularly antagonized by Senators tough guy Chris Neil.
Clarkson is not your conventional 30-goal scorer. He is not a guy who is going to blow by the defenseman by dangling a puck through his skates–finesse is not his game. He does his damage around the crease with a lethal finishing touch and a certain toughness to go with it.
Like a tragic flaw, the edge he has to his game may be a gift and a curse.
Opposing teams know he doesn’t mind mixing it up. Clarkson took his gloves off twice during Monday’s game. If not for intervention from the refs his fists would have been flying.
Sure enough, his role in a scuffle late in the third period–Neil in the middle of it–warranted a 10 minute misconduct and Clarkson was lost for the overtime.
If you want to stop the Devils then David Clarkson is a good place to start. You can expect teams, especially divison rivals, to take a page from Ottawa’s blueprint.
I’m not suggesting David Clarkson needs to reform his ways or tone it down a notch. That edge makes him the player that he is. New Jersey needs his toughness as much as they need his finishing ability. It is just something Clarkson will have to get used to. If the Devils can balance their scoring more, all the better.
Case of the Mondays
New Jersey started strong against the Senators, scoring just over a minute into the game. But as the play wore on, the Devils failed to dictate the pace and allowed the Senators to play their own game. Their was a lot of neutral zone play and the Devils couldn’t get their game going deep in Ottawa’s end. 6 foot 7 goaltender Ben Bishop was tough to solve.
The Devils travel to D.C. Thursday to take on a Capitals team that is last in the Southeast Division. It’s a good opportunity to get back on track and get some pucks in the net.