Maple Leafs' Reality Check: Phil Kessel, Clarke MacArthur Need Help on Offense

Jon Neely@@iamjonneelyAnalyst IOctober 24, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 23:  Phil Kessel #81 of the Toronto Maple Leafs shoots and is stopped by goalie Brian Boucher #33 of the Philadelphia Flyers in the third period of a hockey game at the Wells Fargo Center on October 23, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

This is a recording.

Phil Kessel can't do it alone this season for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

As the final whistle blew Saturday night in Philadelphia and the Leafs skated off the ice with a third-straight loss—a 5-2 no-doubter to the Flyers—they were undoubtedly left with an uneasy feeling regarding the state of their offense thus far in 2010-11.

Or lack thereof, as it were.

Kessel and Clarke MacArthur have been on a tear thus far through seven games, but no one else has really shown up offensively for the Leafs. And it's not just a few guys in a slump—literally no one else has done anything of significance, and it's hurting the team in a big way.

The evidence is almost scary.

The Leafs have scored 20 goals through seven games this season. Kessel and MacArthur have combined for 12 of them (six each), which means the remaining 10 forwards have put their talents together and come up with eight goals.

Kessel and MacArthur also have two game-winning goals apiece, and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to do the math on that one.

This early sign of a trend is a slight problem for a team who thought they might struggle up front this year. Not sure if they thought it would be this bad, this early.

The team has scored four goals during the three-game losing streak. That's nerd-in-college type scoring.

The combination of Kris Versteeg and Tyler Bozak have scored one goal—one measly goal all season. That's the same number as the dazzling duo of Colton Orr and Mike Brown have scored. Yeah, that's not a good thing.

Mikhail Grabovski? No goals.

Fredrick Sjostrom? Nada.

What's worse is that Bozak, who was thought perhaps to be in over his head as the first-line center, has taken just six shots all season. Mike Komisarek, who's been relegated down to the final pairing on defense, has six shots. Tim Brent plays on the third line and has six shots. Mike Zigomanis (fourth line), seven shots.

When you're playing first-line minutes, you should have six shots per game.

Bozak is making it very difficult for Ron Wilson to keep him on the first line—or on the roster. And you know there's a kid whose name rhymes with "padri" that's just itching to get another shot with the big boys...if you can call them that through the past three games.

The Leafs were out-shot 40-14 in Philadelphia. Of the 14 shots, Kessel and MacArthur had six of them. Ten players had zero. Luke Schenn and Orr weren't two of them.

The shot totals for the season: Kessel, 26; Dion Phaneuf, 24; MacArthur, 19; Schenn, 13.

Yes, you read that right. Schenn is fourth in shots on this team.

I could go all day.

And you might think that the defense (the highest paid defense in the NHL) might pick up the slack for their struggling mates up front, but no sir. Not a chance.

Francois Beauchemin and Komisarek each have a goal. Other than that, doughnuts. Not even Phaneuf (the owner of the worst plus/minus on the team at minus five) has been able to rocket one of his 24 shots through. Same goes for Tomas ("look, Ma, I can shoot!) Kaberle.

All in all, it's been a rough, yet very telling three-game losing streak for the Leafs, after their four-game honeymoon to start off the year.

It's clear Kessel is going to have a big season. MacArthur: so far so good, but his success is up in the air. It's now up to everyone else to step up their game and start shooting and then scoring. Their good start still has them at a respectable 4-2-1, which every Leaf fan would have happily taken to start the year. But we've already seen two completely different teams through seven games: one very good and one very bad.

The team needs some changes, it needs a boost; and like Don Cherry scoffed about last night, a change does not consist of swapping your fourth-liners in and out of the lineup. That changes nothing. That's like changing a headlight when your car breaks down.

Kessel has been an automatic when it comes to offense—he's far too good for any team to keep him off the score sheet for long. Now it's up to the rest of the Leafs, and coaching staff, to follow his lead, or this season could quickly be a repeat of early struggles last year.

And just in case you were wondering, while the Leafs were sputtering in Philadelphia Saturday night, that kid down in the minors had a four-point night (two goals, two assists) to bump his point total for the year up to seven (three goals, four assists) in five games.

It might not be time for that just yet, but if Bozak and friends keep up their act, I'm sure a certain someone could come up and manage a whopping six shots in seven games...if that's all it takes.

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.


    Bruins, Maple Leafs & Crucial First Goals

    Toronto Maple Leafs logo
    Toronto Maple Leafs

    Bruins, Maple Leafs & Crucial First Goals

    Drew Johnson
    via The Hockey Writers

    Wild Part Ways with GM Fletcher

    NHL logo

    Wild Part Ways with GM Fletcher

    via TSN

    MacKinnon Would Get P.K. Subban's MVP Vote

    NHL logo

    MacKinnon Would Get P.K. Subban's MVP Vote

    Joey Alfieri
    via ProHockeyTalk

    Predators vs. Jets Will Be Battle of NHL's Goliaths

    NHL logo

    Predators vs. Jets Will Be Battle of NHL's Goliaths

    NBC Sports
    via NBC Sports