Toronto Maple Leafs v Atlanta Thrashers

Goal of the Night – Phil Kessel (February 27)

Aside from the occasional night off – or the even less common instance when a save or goal isn’t deemed worthy – the gang at PHT will decide which tally or stop is the best of any given night. Once those two winners are determined, we’ll share our reasoning (and most importantly, the video clip for each) in posts for your viewing pleasure.

People love to beat up on Phil Kessel, as he’s taken the torch from Dustin Penner as the go-to guy for restricted free agent negotiations gone wrong (in the form of lost draft picks). It doesn’t help that he’s reluctant to play defense, either.

But let’s not forget the fact that he’s a legitimate goal scoring talent, though. He showed that on this play, as he took an ill-fated Evander Kane drop pass all the way down the ice, lobotomized the Atlanta Thrashers defense and then scored on his own rebound for the February 27th Goal of the Night.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Phil Kessel sounds off on Leafs coach Ron Wilson

Honda NHL SuperSkills

With how the Toronto Maple Leafs season has gone, you’d think a backlash of opinion from the players would’ve started a lot sooner than today. Instead, Leafs All-Star forward Phil Kessel is sounding off after being fed up with how things are going with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Kessel sounded off to the media as the Leafs continue to struggle in the Northeast Division and his opinions on coach Ron Wilson, and Wilson’s on Kessel, were not very pleasant as Globe & Mail reporter James Mirtle shared today.

Asked Sunday whether Wilson has offered any advice given his struggles, Kessel offered some troubling insight into how the dynamic with his coach works.

“No, me and Ron don’t really talk,” Kessel told a group of reporters after practice. “So that’s all I’ve got to say about that.”

Wilson was only slightly more enlightening on the subject.

“Phil doesn’t really want to talk much about goal scoring or even work on it that much in practice,” Wilson said. “It’s kind of a ‘touch’ thing. So he comes and goes into these hot streaks, cold streaks.”

Having frustrating words coming out of a star player on a bad team is nothing new, but when it happens in Toronto it is a big deal and for Kessel to sound off makes matters a bit worse. Is it a coaches quarrel gone wrong or a player just sounding off on how bad the team has been all season long? Your guess is as good as ours in respect to that but with how the Leafs season has gone and how Kessel has struggled to get goals, the likely choice is “all of the above.”

Kessel has 19 goals and 15 assists this season and a -22 rating. For all the good he’s been able to do for the Leafs it’s been compounded by the amount of goals scored against the team when Kessel is out there. It’s just a factor of how things have gone in Toronto this season and a sign that things could be ready to bubble over there this year. With trade rumors swirling around the rest of the team, Kessel isn’t going anywhere as his trade from Boston created a huge price to pay for the Leafs. Still, it’s a bad sign for a Toronto team that’s lingering on to hope that they can rally at all to sneak into the playoffs.

Save of the night: Scott Clemmensen stuns Phil Kessel in overtime

Florida Panthers v Toronto Maple Leafs

Aside from the occasional night off – or the even less common instance when a save or goal isn’t deemed worthy – the gang at PHT will decide which tally or stop is the best of any given night. Once those two winners are determined, we’ll share our reasoning (and most importantly, the video clip for each) in posts for your viewing pleasure.

Phil Kessel was coming off one of the more bummed out All-Star weekends a guy can have. He was the last pick in the All-Star Fantasy Draft, he wasn’t able to dazzle us with anything in the skills competition, and he was the only forward to not end up with a point in the game itself. Getting back to normal life in the regular season seemed like a good idea.

Scott Clemmensen decided to make life a little harder for a moment on Kessel with his tremendous stop on Kessel as he broke in on him  in overtime. Kessel made a beautiful move to slip past the defense but Clemmensen robbed him with a huge pad save. Clemmensen’s save was able to help the game move on to the shootout where the Leafs snatched victory away after blowing a 3-1 lead in the third period.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

All-Star flubs: Phil Kessel’s irrelevance, Tim Thomas falls and broken sticks for Alex Ovechkin

Honda NHL SuperSkills

The 2011 NHL All-Star Game hasn’t begun yet, but this weekend’s buildup already created some embarrassing moments. Luckily all three All-Stars handled those moments with some good humor, whether the effects were out of their hands or self imposed.

In the first video, you’ll see the squirm-inducing moment in which Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel went last in the Friday Fantasy Draft. He actually went second to last in the PHT Mock Draft, so these results aren’t that stunning. To be fair to Kessel, Erik Karlsson may have been the last pick if there weren’t requirements for drafting goalies and defensemen earlier.

Tim Thomas is one of the best personalities of all the league’s goalies, which even is apparent in the way he plays the game. It’s good that he has a great sense of humor because he took an amusing spill during the fastest skater competition, which you can see in the second video.

The final clip captures the hockey stick difficulties faced by Alex Ovechkin, who handled it with humor and confusion.

Kessel as Mr. Irrelevant:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Thomas falls:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Ovechkin’s hardest shot problems:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Phil Kessel v. Bruins: Final Showdown

The Phil Kessel trade to the Maple Leafs from Boston has been a heated topic of debate for both teams all season long. You’ve got Bruins fans insisting they didn’t need Kessel to win games ranging to Leafs fans saying they don’t care about the first round pick the team gave up to1-kessel.jpg get him. As the teams square off tonight for the final time this season, it stands to reason that both teams could end up being big winners and losers in the end. 

For Boston, it’s clear that they miss Kessel’s offensive ability more than anything. Patrice Bergeron is the team’s leading scorer with 50 points, meanwhile Kessel is the Leafs top man with 55 points including 30 goals. The Bruins may not know that Kessel has been that good for the Leafs this year because in their five games head-to-head Kessel has been held to just one assist.

As for the first round pick, many Bruins fans have visions of a top three pick but with Toronto firmly in the role of spoiler, the Leafs have played better of late winning six of their last nine.  While their final four games come against Eastern teams looking to get in the playoffs, the Leafs are in a spot where closing out the season in a big way could conceivably put them closer to 10th in the draft rather than 2nd overall and thus making Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli a bit less excited.

Do the Bruins miss Kessel’s offense? In a huge way, yes. While Patrice Bergeron has had a bit of a resurgence this year, I’d bet the Bruins would love to have a 30 goal scorer right about now as they try to secure a spot in the playoffs. While the playoffs is the goal for the Bruins, it would look pretty awful if they missed out because they just didn’t have enough offense to get there and their top goal scorer from a year ago is playing for someone else because the team opted to not pay him while wasting money on other failed projects (hello Derek Morris).

The other side of this though is how ugly would things look in Toronto without Phil Kessel? Kessel has been their lone offensive go-to guy and one check at their current roster’s stats says that the Leafs would be Edmonton Oilers kind of bad if they didn’t get Kessel.