Thursday, March 08, 2012
Can You Phil the Love Tonight?
Fabulous plays on words aside, no, I can't. Phil Kessel is having perhaps the quietest career season a Leaf has ever had. Who's fifth in league scoring and sixth (fifth if you don't count Sidney Crosby) in points-per-game? Phil Kessel.
Who's third in goals scored (let's call it second, because Steven Stamkos is not going to be caught and has an outside chance of 60)? Phil Kessel, who should become the first Leafs 40-goal man in a decade.
Where's the "Phil Kessel for Hart" talk? Because there was plenty of "Jason Spezza for Hart" talk, and Phil the Thrill's going shot for shot with Ol' Goofy Laugh.
Now we've got punters like Glenn Healy assuring Leafs Nation that Randy Carlyle will be rather nonplussed with Kessel due to a lack of skill in all three zones. Who cares? You know what Phil Kessel does? Score, and score, more or less, at will. Yes, I'm sure every coach would love to have three lines of Pavel Datsyuk (and a fourth line consisting of Mike Brown, Colton Orr, and Jay Rosehill), but nope, not going to happen.
With Joffrey Lupul injured (which is apparently why Randy Carlyle "hates" him), Phil Kessel is firmly the backbone of this team's offensive attack (although Grabo's recent hot streak should provide some help).
The key to Phil Kessel's success in Toronto, I think, is that he does his job. He doesn't care about the media, he doesn't care about expectations, he just goes out and scores.
The last time a Leaf was in the Top-5 in scoring, he was from Sweden, Todd Bertuzzi and Markus Naslund were on the same team, and the Leafs made the playoffs.
Party on, Wayne. Score on, Phil.