Kessel saw his goalless streak extend to seven games on Thursday night, as the Maple Leafs lost at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Phil Kessel was a minus one with only 14:35 minutes of ice time. Leaf’s Bench boss Ron Wilson has been juggling the team's lines and the repercussions have been that Phil Kessel’s ice time has diminished. Ron Wilson has also made a point of benching Kessel from time to time hoping this will ignite a flame under his saddle—which it hasn’t.
Is it the coaching staff? Or is it Kessel just frustrated with his play and teams play of late?
Personally I think it’s the system that the Maple Leafs are running; in one game Kessel is a winger, the next he’s a centre. To me it looks like the Leafs are in panic mode and are trying to patch up the holes with what they have.
Phil Kessel is most effective breaking out of his own end and B lining to the net, not playing in the corners and fighting for pucks along the boards. Kessel is a player on the smaller side and lacks in the gritty aspect of play. That’s not knocking him, that’s speaking what’s already known. Kessel has always put up impressive numbers in his short NHL career, but remember he’s always had that top six forward centering him.
That’s something that is crystal clear if you watched any of his games when he was a valid member of the Boston Bruins. The Leafs need that big top six forward that we have been missing since the departure of Mats Sundin.
Phil Kessel has 3 goals in the last 19 games and hasn't’t really shown much flash or dazzle. I think calling up players like Marcel Mueller or Mike Zigomanis wouldn’t hurt, heck maybe they could even score more frequently then Kessel has been. I’m not giving Kessel low blows, but more like speaking the truth. All the NHL’s top goal scorers have line mates, top elite players making their jobs that much easier, who does Phil have?
The lines in Toronto are constantly changing from night to night with no time to work on chemistry. Bozak, Versteeg, Armstrong, Kadri and Kulemin? Come on, really? Not one of these players is a top six forward on any NHL team, never mind the Leafs. Kadri is up because of the Leafs recent struggles, and they are in desperate need of some offence and a spark, something Kadri has yet to do.
Now the question: is Phil Kessel playing with an undisclosed injury?
If so he shouldn't even be on the ice period. Kessel needs to get back to his regular self and not just going for a skate night after night. Kessel is capable of a lot more then what he’s been displaying and I think that’s what’s frustrating the fans in Toronto more then anything.
Phil Kessel just has to be better and gain his confidence back bottom line.