Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Shiv on 12/30/10 at 10:35 AM ET
Phil Kessel had a few firsts Tuesday night against the Hurricanes.
He had his first multi-goal game in the last 31 games. He had only his 4th multi-point game of the season, his first in the last 6 games. He also scored his first Powerplay Goal with a one-time slap shot of the season – in fact, it is one of a handful in his entire career, though the Leafs sure wouldn’t mind him doing it more often.
So despite the fact that Toronto lost on Tuesday, Leaf Nation has taken it in stride because the game can easily be a turning point for Kessel’s season.
But before Leaf fans await Kessel’s return to consistent form or rather wait for him to reach such heights for the first time in his career, analyzing Kessel’s numbers yields a different story.
Of the 35 games the Maple Leafs have played this season, 20 have been against teams that currently hold a playoff spot. 6 of Kessel’s 14 goals have come against Playoff Teams; 8 of them against Non-Playoff teams. Since his streak in October, though, Kessel has scored only 2 goals against Playoff teams, while scoring 5 against Non-Playoff teams. Furthermore, in 8 games against Division Leaders, Kessel has only 1 goal, which came on the Poweplay.
Of course this season is a small sample size. But Kessel has maintained such numbers throughout his career.
In fact, of the 110 goals Kessel has scored in his 4 NHL Seasons, only 39 have come against playoff teams. Furthermore, in 66 games against Division Winners, Kessel found the back of the net only 16 times.
What makes these statistics all the more staggering is that post Lockout, the Stanley Cup Winning team also won its Division every year except the year Pittsburgh won it all and they finished 4th.
So Phil Kessel can score all he wants against teams like Carolina. But against the top tier teams of the league, he is neutralized more often than not. And that includes the seasons he was flanking Marc Savard.
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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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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