TORONTO – Clarke MacArthur
can only shake his head in frustration.
"If I weigh on it it's going to get worse," he said.
MacArthur is in the midst of his worst slump as a Leaf, a seven-game skid without a single point. The empty stretch oddly comes right on the heels of a seven-game point streak (three goals, five assists), his longest as a Leaf.
"I've had two or three golden chances every game and it's just like 'come on all really'," MacArthur said, exasperation evident in his voice. "I want to chip in, score some goals and help out. We really need that right now. For whatever reason, just snake-bit.
"It's something I've got to figure out."
The chances were there on Saturday in a 3-1 loss to Montreal, the fourth in five games for the Leafs. A point-blank opportunity in the slot was followed later in the game by a partial breakaway, neither finding twine past Carey Price
"The breakaway I think I clipped his glove," MacArthur explained. "That slot one, I cut to the middle and the puck just rolls on me. I've got blocker-side wide-open. I wish I had some answers."
A lengthy on-ice meeting with assistant coach Scott Gordon concluded Sunday's practice at Mastercard Centre for the Lloydminster, Alberta native. A follow up session with Ron Wilson is likely at some point before Monday's game against the Islanders.
Wilson's advice will likely start with some version of the following.
"With Clarke the whole thing is about moving his feet," Wilson said when asked about MacArthur on Sunday. "He's got to get his feet going and simplify his game."
Maybe most confounding for MacArthur is the lack of production he's had with Mikhail Grabovski
and Nikolai Kulemin
, a funk that's really been evident from the get-go.
A consistent force from start to finish last season – especially at even-strength – the trio has been strangely silent when linked together so far this year. The desire to succeed as a unit is evident, but for whatever reason MacArthur, Grabovski and Kulemin just can't seem to find any consistent rhythm.
Never going more than four games without a point last season, MacArthur is now pointless in his last 10 games when paired with Grabovski and Kulemin, briefly replaced by Joey Crabb
"It's a frustrating thing," he said. "You come into the season excited about building from last year and I don't know what to say, that combination, I don't know how can it not work.
"It's like a car that goes a hundred miles an hour one year, it's the same car you pull out of the garage the next year and it goes eighty miles an hour. There's no reason for it."
MacArthur had 12 goals and 21 assists at this point last year and while he's matched the goal total (12) thus far, he's fallen well short in the assist department (only nine in 40 games), very likely coinciding with Kulemin's goal-scoring struggles (stuck on five).
The line hasn't been a real negative in terms of goals against, but they've not produced together to expectation.
"We're not hurting the team," MacArthur noted, "but at the same time we're not producing and it's frustrating."