Seriously. The two have basically spent the entire season together regardless of what's been going on around them. According to Behind The Net, Clarkson has been Elias' linemate for 80.7 percent of the time when Clarkson has been on the ice at even strength. Even more startling, the two have been linemates 87 percent of the time Elias has been on the ice during 5-on-5 play.
No matter who has been the second-line center, those two players have been on the wing. And for a long portion of this season, it was working. From the beginning of the season until Feb. 16 (when the current skid began), the two scored a combined 14 goals and notched a combined 34 points in 14 games. That's pretty freakin' impressive. So impressive, in fact, that I commissioned a friend of mine to make the photo above on Feb. 13. They were one team-up effort away from me posting the photo, but ever since then, the two have cooled off considerably. Consider that since a Feb. 16 loss to the Islanders, the two have combined for one goal and five points with Clarkson contributing only one assist to that total.
It's no coincidence that the Devils started sliding when their secondary scoring went away, but it was also ridiculous to expect them to keep up their early-season pace. At one point, David Clarkson was on track to score somewhere between 40 and 50 goals in a 48-game season, while Elias was on more than a point-per-game run. So what to do with the Devils' dynamic duo? Break them up? Keep them together and weather the storm? I have to say I'm a little surprised DeBoer hasn't broken them up before now. I understand they've played well together and their skills complement each other so very well, but it bears mentioning that DeBoer has spent the entire season searching for a left wing on the top line. Why not try Elias there, alongside Loktionov and Kovy? In fact -- here's my suggestions:
I think DeBoer is a big fan of what Loktionov has been doing with Kovy -- and for good reason. Yes, there is a fear that there's too much scoring on the top line and dumping your highest-paid center to the third line, but the Devils aren't looking for long-term answers here. They're looking for a combination over a brief stretch that will get them back on track and there's nothing that gets a slumping team back on track like being able to roll a red-hot forward line. Plus, you sub Elias' playmaking abilities for Henrique's and perhaps jump-start Clarkson, who has gone as ice cold as can be.
My general point is that DeBoer can always go back to the Elias-Clarkson combo. It's always going to be there. But right now, the Devils need a spark. They need to really change things up and the only way to do that is by changing the one thing they've left untouched up to this point. Try Elias with Kovy. Try Clarkson with anyone else -- maybe the combo of Henrique and Clarkson will get both of them going. At this point, it's time to try something nuts -- including splitting up Batman and Robin.