Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Shiv on 12/15/10 at 12:02 AM ET
The horse that is the comparison between Phil Kessel and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has been beaten to death. Except Tyler Seguin is the He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and he has been named constantly.
But while Tyler Seguin’s name echoes across Toronto relentlessly, Taylor Hall’s does not.
Last year, the Toronto Maple Leafs finished with 74 points in the regular season, 12 points ahead of the Edmonton Oilers who finished with 62 points.
Were it not for the Kessel trade, however, the Maple Leafs would have been the undisputed worst team in the NHL last season.
Because there is a direct and obvious correlation between the performance of a team’s best player and the team itself.
And the Leafs won many games because of Phil Kessel last season.
The most obvious statistic is the fact that in 70 games, Kessel had 5 Game-Winning Goals.
That is the equivalent of 10 points in standings math alone.
In addition, Kessel scored 7 of his 30 goals in single-goal games (including one GWG) that resulted in a W for the Leafs last season. Kessel also had 14 Multi-Point games. The Leafs record in those games? 9-4-1. Not surprisingly, 4 of Kessel’s 5 GWG came in these games. Not only that but one of the nine wins was against Edmonton in a 6-4 Win, where Kessel had 2 Goals and 1 Assist.
That is an additional 23 points in the standings due largely to Kessel’s efforts including a 4-Point game against the Oilers in a battle for last place.
Now, of-course, the Chicken and the Egg argument comes into play here. It is obvious that the Leafs would not have finished with only 39 points last season without Kessel.
But what is clear is that the Leafs would have easily made up the 12-Point spread between themselves and the Oilers for last place and that 1st Overall Pick that would have inevitably been Taylor Hall.
The Seguin vs Kessel argument gets bogged down in semantics due to different natural positions and styles of play, even though Seguin will be the better player. The fact that Seguin has 5 Goals and 10 Points compared to Kessel’s 10 Goals and 17 points only helps Kessel’s cause further.
But the Hall vs Kessel debate is more black and white and not exactly a debate. Hall is everything Kessel is, except he is better and brings even more to the table. The fact that the two-time Memorial Cup and Stafford Smythe Winner sits just 1 Goal and 1 Point behind Phil Kessel in his first NHL season makes the distinction even easier.
Obviously, the wrong name echoes across talk radio, newspapers and Internet blogs across Leaf Nation.
Or perhaps the right one is not mentioned for a reason.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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