I didn’t see much from the Kessel debut, however I did see this:
Don’t know about his shoulder- but welcome back buddy- better keep that head up. From all accounts it sounds like the general consensus was that he by FAR the best forward on the ice for the Maple Leafs and that Matt Stajan shouldn’t be too comfortable with his place alongside Kessel.
Lebrun has as good an overnight review of the game as anyone else I have seen:
“The 22-year-old star winger was downright dynamite Tuesday night in his Maple Leafs debut, dazzling the home fans with his speed and skill and launching 10 shots on goal at the Tampa Bay net, more shots than Lightning stars Vincent Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis combined.”
Downright dynamite. I love it. In time a percentage of those will either end up in the net or result in assists for Kessel.
“The former Bruins star did everything but score on this night, launching 19 shots in total toward the net, seven blocked by Lightning players and two missing the net. The puck was following him around all night.
I’m stunned he looked this good after missing all of training camp, preseason and the opening month of the regular season, recovering from shoulder surgery and, oh, playing his first game with a new team and new linemates.
In just one game, you see what kind of dimension Kessel brings to a Leafs lineup essentially devoid of top-six, high-end offensive talent. Tampa’s blueliners were backing up in a hurry when Kessel wheeled out of his zone with the puck. He opens that much ice around him thanks to his sizzling speed.”
Kessel is the offensive threat that the Maple Leafs haven’t had since, well, since ummmm, Doug Gilmour maybe?????
The problem facing Kessel, Brian Burke and Ron Wilson is that there is only one Phil Kessel on the Leafs. This team is now 1-12. So despite what anyone is saying with respect to positive signs, things improving, they can’t hide from that record. They are 1-12. In terms of timing, the schedule is fairly favorable to the buds. They don’t play again until Friday when they travel to Carolina to take on Paul Maurices ever struggling team before taking on the Red Wings at the unfriendly ACC. The Burke’s bunch has 7 games to play before they hit the 20 game plateau, the time when GM’s take stock in what they have and what they need. Right now it is hard to fathom how Burke sees nothing but holes in his lineup. 1-12 speaks volumes and despite what some in the MSM are saying, the Toronto Maple Leafs have a long way to go should they wish to be playing meaningful games after the holidays, let alone be anywhere near a playoff spot.
I have to believe by the way, that barring injury, the Finger experiment is going to come to an end with the Leafs pretty soon. They can’t keep a guy making that much dough with the club and in the press box. It’s too much money to be blowing under the cap to not have him in the minors. If he is not good enough to play with this group as a top performer than he should be down on the farm.
Lebrun is here