Toronto Maple Leafs Starring Role: Kessel Named NHL's First Star of the Week

Jon Neely@@iamjonneelyAnalyst IFebruary 28, 2011

MONTREAL, CANADA - FEBRUARY 24:  Phil Kessel #81 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his second first period goal during the NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on February 24, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

Talk about coming full circle for the Toronto Maple Leafs sniper Phil Kessel

Just over two weeks ago (Feb. 12) Kessel played his 14th-straight game without scoring a goal. It was the second-longest scoreless streak of his career, and the city was abuzz with questions pertaining to how good he really was. 

Since that game though, Kessel has not only found his scoring touch, but he's been arguably the hottest player in the NHL.

Which is why on Monday he was named the NHL's first star of the week, with four goals and eight points in four games. 

Since that Feb. 12 loss in Montreal, he has seven goals and 11 points in seven games, and the Leafs are 4-0-3 while their best player has been just that. 

Quite simply, Kessel has been on fire over the past seven games, including a four-point night against the Canadiens on Feb. 24. After nothing was going his way prior to his hot-streak, it now seems like he can't miss. The team is benefit ting greatly from it as their hunt for a playoff spot rolls on. 

His 26 goals sits him 14th in NHL scoring, and if he stays on his current pace, he could reach his career-high of 36 goals (2008-09). Kessel has recorded 47 points through 63 games this season, which is second to Clarke MacArthur (48 points) on the team.

His production is crucial to the Leafs winning, and if there's any chance of them making the postseason, they can't afford to have him cool down. 

If his career is any indication, it's only a matter of time before the 23-year-old hits yet another slump. But during his time with the club, he's never played this well. 

And that makes the Leafs offense a lot more formidable. 

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Corey Crawford was named the second star, and Columbus Blue Jackets winger Matt Calvert was the third star. 


Twitter: @therealjonneely