And when they do force turnovers

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And when they do force turnovers

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TORONTO – Standing comfortably by his dressing room stall, David Clarkson refuses to dodge questions about a goal drought thats lingered 10 games into the start of his Maple Leafs career. Hes willing answer queries for as long as needed. "Ask whatever you want," he says. And he understands the questions. But he also knows why he was brought into the fold in Toronto and why Dave Nonis and company chose to pony up seven years at $36.75 million. "I wasnt brought here to score 50 goals," Clarskon said earnestly after practice on Monday morning. "I was brought here for that full game that I bring, competing every night." Nonis made that point clear on the day he signed the Mimico native last July. The considerable size and weight of the deal aside – not to mention the 30 goals he scored two seasons ago – internal expectations for the 29-year-old did not hinge strictly on offence but instead on the range of tools and experience he could contribute to a group prospectively on the rise. And though he hasnt scored, with bad luck in a mostly defensive role primarily to blame, Clarkson has generally played that part with the Leafs, admittedly still adjusting to the new confines of life in Toronto. "He hasnt really let it affect anything about him," James van Riemsdyk said of Clarksons goal drought during a conversation with the Leaf Report. "I think hes come in and filled his role; [hes] played hard, finished checks, stuck up for his teammates and had a couple tough bounces as far as goal-scoring [goes]..." Predictably pesky and a willing physical combatant, Clarkson has actually been at his best as a puck-controlling, forechecking burden deep in the offensive zone – something the group at large has struggled with until spurts recently. Effective in that regard mostly alongside Mason Raymond, Clarkson leads the team in puck possession (CORSI,) despite starting many of his shifts in the defensive zone. "Thats something Ive always brought," said Clarkson, who has three assists, including a pair in the past two games. "In my career, Ive always been known to be a guy that down low is hard to play against, thats always in the blue paint, winning battles down low, finishing checks and driving the other team crazy." An admitted adjustment early on, Clarkson has been employed in a primarily defensive role so far, matched up against opposing top lines more often than not. Hes held his own in such duties – on the ice for just four goals against. Never was his effectiveness in this capacity more pronounced than his second game of the year. Playing alongside Raymond and Dave Bolland, Clarkson helped keep Sidney Crosby off the scoresheet for just the second time all season (to that point.) "The whole game, I was trying to hit Sid or trying to hit Malkin every shift because, if those guys are a little bit hesitant that you might do something, all of sudden maybe theyre looking over their shoulder and not as effective," he said. "I always try to play that same way." A Cup finalist with the Devils in 2012, Clarksons veteran credentials have also held sway among his more youthful teammates – all but a handful are younger than his 29 years. Nearly toppling the veteran Bruins in the playoffs last May, the Leafs looked to Clarkson and Bolland for aid in the leadership department this past summer. "Hes one of those guys you can look at to be a constant out there," James Reimer told the Leaf Report. "Hes just a good leader and hes a good pro. And a young team, thats what a lot of the time we need. You need those people that you can look up to." Reimer points the manner in which Clarkson has handled the early string of misfires offensively. "Hes not getting rattled, not breaking his stick, not swearing up and down," said the 25-year-old netminder. "He just comes to work every day." Several factors have worked to hold Clarkson in check offensively, luck and role most prominently among them. A sign of his unluckiness to date: the Leafs boast an even-strength shooting percentage of a paltry 2.6 per cent when Clarksons been on the ice this season, lowest on the team (with a minimum of 10 games played.) The several opportunities he has had, including a jam play opposite Jhonas Enroth on Saturday and a squeaker through the five-hole of Cory Schneider a week earlier, have fallen just shy of crossing the line. In addition to bad luck, Clarksons role has also changed from where it left off with the Devils. A first unit power-play contributor in Jersey, he is, at best, a second unit option in Toronto – stuck behind the skillful likes of van Riemsdyk, Raymond, Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, Nazem Kadri, and Tyler Bozak when healthy. Clarkson, who totaled 14 power-play goals and 24 power-play points the past two seasons, has averaged 1:50 per game on the man advantage thus far, down from the nightly 3:33 he garnered with the Devils last season. Not helping his cause offensively either is the limited amount of even-strength shifts hes started in the offensive zone – slightly above 17 per cent, lowest on the team – nor the amount hes shot the puck to date; just two per game, down considerably from the past two seasons. "We think that David Clarkson has got a lot to offer to our hockey club and hes had his fair share of chances," said coach Randy Carlyle. "Hes a little bit snake-bitten, but if he continues to go to the net the way hes been going and we continue to drive that middle lane and get pucks directed around him hell score some goals for us. We believe that." With career-highs of 30 goals and 46 points, the production is unlikely to ever match the annual $5.2 million pay grade, but rightly or wrongly, thats not why the Leafs signed Clarkson in the first place. "If David Clarkson doesnt score 30 goals in a Leaf uniform, but provides all the other things that we know hes going to provide were pretty comfortable were a better team," Nonis said on July 5. Clarkson says the early drought may have bothered him as a younger player, what with the now daily barrage of questions and pressure to contribute offensively, but with age, experience and a family, he appears neither frustrated nor agitated. He knows his poor luck is bound to change, also understanding the manner in which he can affect the game otherwise. "Theres so much that he brings to this team," Reimer said. “When he starts scoring, honestly itll just be a bonus." Trebuie să fii logat sau înregistrat pentru a vedea acest link. . And follow TSN.ca right through Wednesdays 3pm et trade deadline for all the updates. Blue line help for Red Wings? In addition to what he reported in Insider Trading, TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun wrote on ESPN. Trebuie să fii logat sau înregistrat pentru a vedea acest link. . It took five games, but the Celtics finally helped Stevens earn his first NBA victory. "Im going to celebrate for a whole 12 minutes, and then Im going to start watching Orlando and trying to figure them out," the first-year Celtics coach said after Boston beat the Utah Jazz, one of the leagues other winless teams, 97-87 on Wednesday night. Trebuie să fii logat sau înregistrat pentru a vedea acest link.. Gomes drove in all three runs, including a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth inning, and Cleveland rallied for a 3-2 win over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday. Trebuie să fii logat sau înregistrat pentru a vedea acest link. . -- Syracuse was dangerously close to letting another less talented opponent pull off the upset when C. Trebuie să fii logat sau înregistrat pentru a vedea acest link. . However, the 38-year-old is in no hurry to sign with another team. "Im not in a rush. This will be my last contract, so I want to do it right," said Burris on Thursday.As part of our coverage leading up to the 102nd Grey Cup in Vancouver, TSN.ca takes a look at four key matchups that could go a long way in determing the outcome of Sundays game. Jon Cornish vs Tiger-Cats run defence Its the leagues best running back against the leagues top run stoppers. Cornish proved just how valuable he is, leading the league in regular season rushing with 1,082 yards on the ground despite playing in just 10 games. The former Most Outstanding Player was the only running back in the league to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing and showed hes back to 100 percent - or at least close - in the Western Final, combining for 174 yards and two touchdowns. Perhaps in response to Kory Sheets huge performance in last years Grey Cup, the Ticats committed to improving against the run this season. Led by linebacker Simoni Lawrence, Hamilton led the league in almost all defensive rushing categories. They were first in fewest yards net rushing with 1,382 (an average of 76.8 yards per game, almost 20 fewer than the second place team), and gave up the fewest first downs to the run. The Ticats were rushed on less than any other team in the league but that figures to change with Cornish in the backfield and a championship on the line. Cornish was injured for both regular season meetings between the two clubs. Zach Collaros vs Stampeders secondary Making only his second career postseason start, Zach Collaros will face three division All-Stars in the Stampeders secondary. Cornerback Fred Bennett and halfbacks Jamar Wall and Brandon Smith will do their best to make Collaros second postseason start not nearly as enjoyable as his first, but numbers suggest Collaros may have the advantage heading into Sunday. The Stamps were the second most thrown on team in the league this season, partly due to the fact they didnt do much to deter opposing offences. Calgary gave up the third most passing yards (253.1 per game) and the third highest completion percentage for oppossing QBs (63.1). For his part, Collaros averaged 250 yards passing and a 65 percent completion rate in his 13 regular season games. What Collaros will have to be mindful of however, is the turnoover.ddddddddddddThe Stamps secondarys strength lies in their ballhawking ability. They had the second most interceptions in the league with 20 this season. And when they do force turnovers, they make teams pay. Calgary led the league in interception return yards with 417. Stampeders pass rushers vs Tiger-Cats offensive line If there was a stat for turnover in a position group, the Ticats offensive line would likely be among the league leaders. 11 different linemen have started for the Ticats this year, including a whopping four at left tackle alone. Only Brian Simmons and Tim ONeill have started every game for Hamilton this season, but neither has stayed at the same position all year. The Ticats did gain some continuity on the line in the second half of the season, a good thing for Collaros with two of the leagues top pass rushers coming into town. Shawn Lemon was tied for second in the league in sacks with 13 and last years sack leader Charleston Hughes, would have likely hit thirteen at least if not for missing six games in the regular season. A year after compiling 18 quarterback sacks, Hughes amassed eight in just 12 regular season games played. Brandon Banks vs Rob Maver This matchup could become Brandon Banks vs the Stampeders punt coverage team, but if Maver does his job well, Banks wont be given the opportunity to take on the rest of Calgarys special teams. Theres no question Banks, winner of two Special Teams Player of the Week awards, is the top returner in the league and has game breaking ability. He showed just how big of an impact he, and the rest of Hamiltons superb special teams, can have on a game in the Eastern Final. While its unrealistic to think Banks will have a repeat performance on Grey Cup Sunday, his return skills will go a long way in helping the Ticats win the field position battle. The Stamps best strategy may be to keep the ball out of Banks hands, and with a punter like Maver they may prove very successful at it. A West Division All-Star, and the teams nominee for Most Outstanding Special Teams Player, Maver was second in the league in punting average at 45.4, second only to Torontos Swayze Waters. Trebuie să fii logat sau înregistrat pentru a vedea acest link. Trebuie să fii logat sau înregistrat pentru a vedea acest link. Trebuie să fii logat sau înregistrat pentru a vedea acest link. Trebuie să fii logat sau înregistrat pentru a vedea acest link. Trebuie să fii logat sau înregistrat pentru a vedea acest link. Trebuie să fii logat sau înregistrat pentru a vedea acest link. Trebuie să fii logat sau înregistrat pentru a vedea acest link. Trebuie să fii logat sau înregistrat pentru a vedea acest link. Trebuie să fii logat sau înregistrat pentru a vedea acest link. Trebuie să fii logat sau înregistrat pentru a vedea acest link. Trebuie să fii logat sau înregistrat pentru a vedea acest link. Trebuie să fii logat sau înregistrat pentru a vedea acest link. 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