TORONTO – David Clarkson had enough time to think about all the goals he didn’t score during a disappointing first season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Sprung by a perfect pass from Mason Raymond, Clarkson didn’t over-think it. He just beat Calgary Flames goaltender Karri Ramo for his first goal since Feb. 4, 17 games ago.
Clarkson’s fifth goal of the season turned out to be the game-winner for the Leafs, who snapped an eight-game streak of regulation losses and could use more contributions from the free-agent signee as they try to save this season.
“It’s no secret it’s been tough,” Clarkson said. “What’s said and what goes on … obviously, personally, I’m not happy with the season and I hold myself accountable. It’s got to be better.”
With just his 11th point in his 55th game with his hometown team, Clarkson is 15th on the Leafs in scoring, one back of Dave Bolland, who has played just 21 games because of a severed tendon in his ankle.
As it comes close to the time to reflect on Clarkson’s season after signing a $36.75-million, seven-year deal in the off-season, coach Randy Carlyle and players would rather focus on what the 30-year-old winger has done instead of what he hasn’t.
“What we try to do is when things aren’t going well for an individual, you like to see him do the other little things and continue to try to make a contribution, and he’s tried to do that in some instances where he’s had a fight for the team, he’s dropped the glove for teammates, stuff like that,” Carlyle said. “So that’s more the assets that don’t go on the score sheet. We need people to step up and we need people to shake the cobwebs or the doldrums, which we’ve been in, and get ourselves going.”
Clarkson has eight fights to go along with five goals. His 88 penalty minutes rank third on the team behind defenceman Dion Phaneuf and enforcer Colton Orr.
“Numbers aren’t always everything,” defenceman Cody Franson said. “Clarky’s been a guy that went out and worked hard every night for us, he’s just tried to be very physical and create a lot on our cycles. You can’t judge a guy just by numbers. I think he’s brought a lot more to the table than people give him credit for, and we’re happy for him that he got that one tonight.”
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