TORONTO - This isn’t what Clarke MacArthur had in mind as the Maple Leafs fight to stay in the playoff race.
In the Leafs’ paramount stretch of the regular season, MacArthur’s offence has checked out, as the winger has scored one goal in 13 games since the NHL trade deadline came and went.
“I’m probably not shooting the puck enough,” MacArthur said after practice on Monday. “That’s the direct reason, I would say. I have passed off a lot of opportunities, and I have had some good chances where I have not put them in and I usually do.
“It’s frustrating, especially now at this time of year.”
MacArthur has been contributing in other departments and has seven assists in the same time period. Though the Leafs have won seven of those games — including the one MacArthur scored in, on March 12 versus Buffalo — the 25-year-old isn’t thrilled.
“If I could have scored a couple of more, we could be sitting a lot better (in the standings),” MacArthur said. “It’s just how the game is. Sometimes they go in and sometimes they don’t.”
MacArthur is not the only Leafs veteran who struggled to put the puck in the net. Phil Kessel has just three goals since the deadline.
But the Leafs have been buoyed in other areas. Darryl Boyce is plus-9 overall, and other youngsters such as Nazem Kadri have been solid.
“The environment has been positive, and a lot of these guys at the beginning of the year did not think they would be in the NHL, let alone be in a playoff race,” coach Ron Wilson said.
MacArthur does not have a contract for next season and his agent, Don Meehan, negotiated with Leafs general manager Brian Burke until the trade deadline. Once it passed, talks were put on the backburner, and will resume at some point after the Leafs’ season is finished.
Though there’s no pressure contract-wise — MacArthur has 56 points (20 goals and 36 assists) and long ago set a personal best in that category — Wilson figured MacArthur can’t help but wonder about next season and beyond.
“I think Clarke is worried about next year, but he shouldn’t be,” Wilson said. “He does because he is human. I think Clarke will be fine.”