Toronto Maple Leafs: Phil Kessel Gets a Roughing Minor
With 13 seconds left in the game against the New York Islanders, Mike Myers and every Leaf fan that was watching recoiled in horror as P.A. Parenteau snapped home a puck that had taken a funny carom off the boards.
Mikhail Grabovski was trying to clear the puck, but it apparently hit a door in the corner and bounced right to Parenteau who was hovering in front of the net.
Three minutes prior, Grabovski had scored "top shelf" to give the Toronto Maple Leafs their first lead of the game.
Just over two minutes in overtime, Grabovski dished to Clarke MacArthur who snapped the puck into Islander goalie Al Montoya's glove for what looked like the save of the year. One problem: His glove was inside the net.
In a game filled with numerous strange happenings (where did the referees' whistles go?), arguably none were as strange as Phil Kessel getting called for a roughing penalty.
While the Leafs were doing a decent job of containing John Tavares (aside from letting him score the game's first goal), the Islanders were doing their best at shutting Kessel down with physical play.
Kessel and Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic got tangled up a couple of times. Finally, something snapped in Kessel that caused him to take a few wild, though futile swings.
For a guy who is known for avoiding physical contact like the plague, this was a step in the right direction.
Perhaps, Kessel will become more amenable to taking a few body checks instead of spinning away in anticipation of getting bumped.
It was a rare show of intensity for Kessel, and indeed a rare show of emotion for the Leafs over the past couple of weeks.
The Leafs don't have an overly big group of forwards, but a lack of size doesn't stop guys like Mike Brown, Cal Clutterbuck or heck, even Wendel Clark (all of whom are 5'11") back in the day from playing like they're big.
Nobody's asking Phil Kessel to start playing like Wendel, but he definitely needs to step up his overall game.
He is primarily a sniper and needs to stay consistent for the rest of the year in that department. But he also needs to stay sharp defensively and to not shy away from physical play.
If opposing players assume that he will back away as soon as he detects an incoming hit, getting around him will be much easier for them.
He needs to stand his ground to let everyone know he can't be pushed around as easily as he is currently known for.
After all, what good is a sniper that loses control of the puck as soon as a menacing glare is sent his way?
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