PHT Morning Skate: Pens fans name newborn baby after Phil Kessel

–These two Penguins fans had a baby on Mother’s Day and they decided to name their child after Phil Kessel. True Story. Kessel Ryan Hillman was born in Pennsylvania last weekend. “Sure enough they put me in bed no. 81.” (Yahoo)

–Ville Leino, who might just be one of the worst free-agent signings ever, came out with his own clothing line. One of his t-shirts is called “jail”. It’s in reference to his final season in Buffalo that saw him score zero goals in 58 games. I felt trapped and down. All I could do was get up every morning and go to work and try to make it work. This painting reflects those feelings that I was going through on that period of time.” (Buffalo News)

–Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli is one of the finalists for the GM of the Year Award because of his ability to make key deals for his team. The Edmonton Journal breaks down the six major transactions that helped Chiarelli earn the nomination. (Edmonton Journal)

–The Ottawa Senators lit up the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final (who saw that coming?). You can check out the highlights by clicking the video at the top of the page.

Yannick Weber sat down for an interesting Q&A for the NHLPA’s website. During this fun chat, Weber admits to having some Nickleback music on his playlist. On an unrelated note, he’s also a huge fan of Roger Federer. (NHLPA)

–There’s always some debate as to which sport has the toughest athletes. Well, former NFL offensive lineman Willie Colon believes hockey players are clearly tougher than football players. (NBC Sports)

–The New Jersey Devils own the number one pick in this June’s NHL Entry Draft, which means they’ll have to decide between selecting Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier. The Devils director of amateur scouting Paul Castron spoke to beat reporter Chris Ryan about how he evaluates the two prospects. “Both those kids, they’ve the go-to guys on their teams. They both get a lot of attention, but they don’t back down or shy away to make plays at crucial times in games.” (NJ.com)

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    Video: Phil Kessel channels anger into 1-0 goal for Penguins

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    Much was made of Phil Kessel‘s unfiltered rage during the second period of Game 2, and how it might have been directed at Evgeni Malkin.

    For a while, it felt like his anger was symbolic of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ greater feelings, as they couldn’t seem to break through against the Ottawa Senators despite controlling virtually every aspect of about 20 minutes of game time.

    Kessel might bark a lot, but he showed some bite in scoring the 1-0 goal. Check out that precious, rare tally in the video above.

    Video: Phil Kessel opens scoring against his old team, as Maple Leafs look to clinch playoff spot

    AP

    How is this for a potential angle — Phil Kessel coming back to haunt the Toronto Maple Leafs, his former team, as they look to clinch a playoff spot in the final weekend of the regular season?

    With a win versus the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight, the Maple Leafs are in. They would lock up a post-season berth with a young and talented core led up front by Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander.

    Of course, the Penguins and Kessel have a chance to spoil the party.

    Kessel, who played 446 regular season games for Toronto before being traded to Pittsburgh in a blockbuster — and ripped in the media — and was part of the Maple Leafs’ shocking playoff collapse in 2013, opened the scoring just 6:11 into the first period.

    He deployed that terrific wrist shot past the blocker of Frederik Andersen, giving Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead.

    Anxious Maple Leafs fans quickly rejoiced 29 seconds later, though, as James van Riemsdyk scored to tie the game, showing tremendous hand-eye coordination and a pretty good wrist shot of his own.

    The play was reviewed for a possible offside, but the goal stood.

    VIDEO: Phil Kessel sets up Hornqvist with clever lob pass from behind net

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    Phil Kessel has been one of the NHL’s best goal scorers for the majority of his career, but he doesn’t always get a lot of attention for his playmaking ability.

    That was on display on display on Sunday afternoon against the Florida Panthers, and he needed to get a little creative to set up Patric Hornqvist for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ first goal of the game.

    With Kessel positioned behind the net, he quickly flipped the puck over the net to Hornqvist who was able to use his hand-eye coordination to bat the puck out of mid-air, beating James Reimer to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

    It’s the type of play you can try a hundred times and are able to perfectly pull it off maybe once. This is about as perfect as it can get.

    That assist for Kessel is his 41st of the season, giving him the team lead.

     

    Phil Kessel, David Backes involved in Penguins – Bruins violence

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    During these polarized political times, many look to role models for inspiration to get along. That, uh … probably wouldn’t work out so well if you were trying to follow the lead of Phil Kessel and David Backes on Thursday.

    OK, they probably didn’t get into a scuffle because of America – even Kessel needling the U.S. during the World Cup of Hockey, though there’s debate in that regard – but admit it; it’s fun to frame it that way.

    Regardless, Thursday’s Boston Bruins – Pittsburgh Penguins game has been pretty dramatic, with Pittsburgh taking a 2-0 lead and then Boston charging back to go up 3-2 (at least temporarily).

    With all apologies to the amusing lack of defense on Kessel’s goal, the violence brewing between the teams takes the cake, though.

    You don’t get to see big names like Backes and Kessel go at it very often, even if this doesn’t really qualify as “fighting.”

    So far, video isn’t available of their scuffle/roughing/etc., but there are GIFs. And they’re pretty entertaining.

    It sure looks like Kessel started it, or at least was caught retaliating for something:

    That GIF captured some of the violence, but here’s this piece of it, anyway:

    As a reminder, Kessel sent out this sardonic tweet as the United States floundered at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey:

    Sheesh, you’d think that Backes and Kessel could at least find common ground over dogs being cool, but apparently not.

    The second period also ended with a fight between Colin Miller and Scott Wilson, with Wilson receiving misconduct and instigator penalties, so it’s been pretty heated between these two teams.

    Again, video will be added when available. Here’s a clip of Miller vs. Wilson, at least: