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Devils' Clarkson blossoms into a scorer

by John Kreiser

David Clarkson is proving that his 30-goal season in 2011-12 was no accident.

Clarkson made the NHL as a scrapper, an energy player who could skate, would stand up for his teammates and could score the occasional goal. But he turned into a 30-goal scorer last season -- more than he had scored in any two previous NHL seasons combined -- and he's picked up right where he left off last spring, when he helped the Devils make the Stanley Cup Final.

Clarkson had a pair of two-goal games last week, and they came in wins against two of the Devils' biggest rivals, the New York Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. He added two assists for six points in four games.

With nine goals in 12 games, he's tied for second in the League and on pace to score more in 48 games that he did in last season's 82-game schedule.

Five up -- Five other players who had a good week:

Patrick Kane
Patrick Kane
Right Wing - CHI
GOALS: 9 | ASST: 10 | PTS: 19
SOG: 33 | +/-: 7
Patrick Kane -- The Chicago Blackhawks have yet to lose in regulation through 12 games, and Kane's scoring is a big reason for their early success. The first player taken in the 2007 NHL Draft scored five goals in three games last week as the Blackhawks swept the back end of a six-game trip. His 19 points are second in the NHL, and his nine goals have him in a three-way tie for second.

Martin Brodeur -- The winningest goaltender in NHL history continues to pile up the W's. Brodeur went 3-0-0 and allowed just four goals as New Jersey swept four games last week. He's already 6-1-2, tying him for second in the League in victories.

Henrik Zetterberg -- Detroit's captain is the NHL leader in tied for the League lead in assists with 13, including six in the Red Wings' four games last week. He's climbed into third in the League scoring race with 18 points.

James Reimer -- No one felt better about Toronto's 6-0 win at Toronto on Saturday than Reimer, who stopped 37 shots for his second win of the week. In his previous start at the Bell Centre, in October 2011, Reimer was injured in a collision with Montreal's Brian Gionta and never found his game again. He allowed two goals in his two victories last week, both on the road.

Jamie Benn -- It took Benn a couple of games to find his legs after the restricted free agent re-signed with Dallas a few days into the season. But he found his scoring touch last week, scoring four goals (including two game-winners), and adding two assists as the Stars swept three games.

Five down -- Five players who didn't fare so well last week:

Brian Elliott
Brian Elliott
Goalie - STL
RECORD: 3-4-1
GAA: 3.51 | SVP: 0.853
Brian Elliott -- It was a nightmarish week for Elliott, a 2012 All-Star who has struggled this season. With Jaroslav Halak injured, Elliott started all three games for St. Louis last week and went 0-2-1 with 14 goals allowed on just 63 shots.

Evgeni Nabokov -- Nabokov had a tough week, as he was in goal for all three of the New York Islanders' defeats, capped by Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres in which he allowed three goals on just 15 shots.

Patrick Marleau -- Remember Marleau’s record-tying start, when he began his season with four straight two-goal games and nine goals in his first five? He had another assist in his sixth game, but has gone without a point in the last five.

Evander Kane -- The fourth player taken in the 2009 NHL Draft had three goals and eight points in January has yet to hit the score sheet this month and is minus-4 in the Winnipeg Jets' four February games.

Milan Michalek -- After a 35-goal season for the Ottawa Senators in 2011-12, Michalek opened the season with points in six straight games. But he's had just one assist in six games since then and his slump is a key reason the Senators have been struggling to score.

The week ahead -- It's another busy week, with only the Edmonton Oilers playing fewer than three games, and is capped by Hockey Day in America on Sunday. Five teams have four games, with the Philadelphia Flyers playing all of them on the road. The Anaheim Ducks and San Jose also are on the road all week, as are the Washington Capitals. Chicago begins a seven-game homestand on Tuesday; the Blackhawks, Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators also are home for the week.

Games to watch:

New York Rangers at Boston (Feb. 12, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) -- The Rangers will be looking to avenge an opening-night loss to the Bruins at TD Garden, where the Bruins have been almost unbeatable.

St. Louis at Detroit (Feb. 13, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2) -- This week's Rivalry Night is a matchup of two Central Division teams that are well-acquainted -- this is their fourth meeting in less than four weeks. The Blues won 6-0 on opening night, but the Red Wings won the next two.

Washington at Tampa Bay (Feb. 14, 7:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) -- It's Valentine's Day, but there's not much love between these two Southeast Division rivals as the Capitals try to dig out of their early-season hole.

Anaheim at Detroit (Feb. 15, 7:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) -- The surprising Ducks continue their road trip with a stop at Joe Louis Arena, where they've dropped eight in a row since their last victory five years ago.

Tampa Bay at Florida (Feb. 16, 3 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, NHLN-CA) -- The Lightning and Panthers renew their in-state rivalry in the afternoon as part of an NHL Network doubleheader that also includes Philadelphia's first visit of the season to Montreal.

Pittsburgh at Buffalo and Los Angeles at Chicago (Feb. 17, NBC/TSN2) -- NBC's coverage of Hockey Day in America brings Sidney Crosby and the Penguins to Buffalo (12:30 p.m. ET), followed by a rematch of the opening-day contest in which the Blackhawks spoiled the Kings' banner-raising party (3 p.m. ET).

Washington at New York Rangers (Feb. 17, 6 p.m. ET, NBCSN, RDS) -- The Capitals come to Madison Square Garden for the first time since losing Game 7 of the teams' second-round playoff series to the Rangers last spring.

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