Where would the Leafs be without Kessel?

Forget for a moment the fresh and yet-to-be-determined injuries to forwards Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur and ask yourself this: Where would the Maple Leafs be this morning if it weren’t for the handiwork of Phil Kessel?

It may have often been ugly Tuesday night at a dead Air Canada Centre, but the Leafs still managed to salvage a shootout-loss point to the Phoenix Coyotes.

A couple of big glove saves late by Ben Scrivens roused the 19,522 in attendance from their slumber but the real signs of life were provided by Kessel. The biggest, of course, was the power-play goal 4:41 into the third to force the extra period, but as has been the case so often this season, every time No. 81 got the puck there was ample reason to pay attention.

The goal was Kessel’s 13th of the season in the team’s 18th game, a noteworthy stat when compared to last year’s 32-goal effort. Thanks to a couple of prolonged slumps, he didn’t reach that mark until Christmas was all wrapped up, in Game 35 which was played on Dec. 28.

“He’s such a gifted player, he makes things happen,” said Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf, who thought his team showed something by grinding out a point despite the stumble-start that was in part his own doing.

“When he has the puck on his stick, he’s an exciting player to watch and to play with. If he gets a step, he’s gone. I think you saw it again tonight. He’s got that extra gear. He’s a special player and he’s got that special speed.”

Yes, they call him Phil the Thrill for a reason and there is probably no need to remind Coyotes defenceman David Schlemko, who twice in the first period alone was left swatting at air three strides into another Kessel rush. Each time Kessel got in alone on Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith, but each time was denied.


148 Responses to Where would the Leafs be without Kessel?

  1. TheLeafNation91 says:

    Just trust my judgement on this one. He's still a little immature.

  2. TheLeafNation91 says:

    Like I said Mueller deserves it more because of work ethic and his stats are evidence of that.

    Why else did Joey Crabb get a promotion.

    Kadri has and always had the *****iness hat he deserves to be on the Leafs over others. He is still a whiny kid (evidence by his little tantrum going down) and until he matures to a more dedicated player he does not deserve to be their over a guy like Mueller, whose worked his ass off for two years to get better.

  3. mojo19 says:

    I know it was rhetorical, but I'll answer anyways:

    Because Joey Crabb was dominating, not just statistically, plus Joey Crabb has more NHL experience then the other guys. And Joey Crabb is American. I hope that last reason didn't play a factor but knowing Burke, it may have.

  4. mojo19 says:

    No, I miss him. He brings another element, its lacking. But whatever… I'm thinking he'll be back eventually with a new handle.

  5. hockey_lover says:

    Not really.  Theyve been using the same system since the start of last season.  They have adjusted, yes. They have learned to play more sound defensively but they are still a very aggressive team.

  6. TheLeafNation91 says:

    The element of a psychopath

  7. TheLeafNation91 says:

    I don't think it did. I think it happened because he had a good work ethic and it translated to his production the ice.

    Same with Mueller, thats why I want him up here.

  8. senators_choke says:

    Haha! You're absolutely right.

  9. senators_choke says:

    Lafleur is actually a cool guy.

  10. reinjosh says:

    The scary thing is they are so good without having their three big centers healthy. I'm sort of scared to see what they could do with all three healthy. 

  11. reinjosh says:

    That's weak and you know it. You can't tell someone's work ethic from their points. I could argue that Kadri having a better PPG pace then Mueller shows his work ethic is better since he had to battle to get his strength back after his injury. Weak argument man. 

    And he's never been a whiny kid. For whatever reason that was perpetuated. I'm not entirely sure why but he's never actually displayed that at all. He's always taken demotions in stride and let his game show why he deserves to be on the team. And saying he's disappointed he's not on the team isn't a tantrum. 
    And how is Kadri *****y? I'd like explanations and proof please. Playing the way he plays on the ice doesn't make him *****y. The Leafs could use a spitf*ck on the ice, one who displays tenacity and annoyance to opposing players but brings talent and scoring skill. 
  12. reinjosh says:

    Considering I don't trust your judgment on much these days, I'll think i'll stick with my idea 😛

  13. reinjosh says:

    I like that quote lol. 

  14. hockey_lover says:

    Dude, its never gonna happen so dont worry about it lol

    Right now, they have Sid, Michalek and Lovejoy out. When Lovejoy went down, they called up Stait. He lasted half a period then broke him arm or something. Its ridiculous.

    Like you said … Sid is gonna come back and 10 minutes in, a la Bugs Bunny, a piano is going to fall on Malkin and he's on the IR for the rest of the season.

  15. hockey_lover says:

    Nash is a great layer?   Speaking from experience or something?

    teehee .. sorry man. Had to hahah

  16. MystifoLeafs says:

    Your all forgetting the most intrical part of this website. The K man.

  17. dumbassdoorman says:

    Well seeing as he is only 20yrs old I would say it is safe to say he is still a little imature. But for reasons of the human growth process in becoming an individual. Not someones unstated trust my judgement theory, IMO.

  18. TheLeafNation91 says:

    And your ideas have been accepted by Leafs management.

    That's why they suck now.

  19. TheLeafNation91 says:

    Richard Cloutier suggested a possible Linus Omark and a second for Franson deal.

    Like I said. Poop plus second round pick for Franson.

    Better to try and make him a package for a bigger deal.

  20. TheLeafNation91 says:

    Would you do a Bobby Ryan for Shea Weber swap?

    The Anaheim Ducks have not had that superstar defencemen since Pronger left (Niedermayers final year was not exactly pretty) and lord knows the Predators need a forward.

    Also, not a bad American to place alongside young American stud in Colin Wilson.

    Also, Fowler and Weber could be the new young Pronger and Niedermayer.

    I think they could make this work. Possible more going to Nash, but would benefit both sides.

  21. TheLeafNation91 says:

    Well, if Grigorenko is the next Malkin like many (including I) predict, then Columbus finally got that first-line C they were looking for.

    Johansen is a great second-line option, also have Nash and Carter.

    And just like that, this team is fixed.


    Sell most parts Burke…I want Grigorenko

  22. TheLeafNation91 says:

    Parts I would sell:


    Parts I would keep:

    -Kulemin (shocker eh)

    Parts I would consider, but most likely 60-40 no:


    Anyone I missing?

  23. mojo19 says:

    A goal a game from your secondary scoring is pretty ideal. You're talking about a close to best case scenario. Again, you're gonna have to tone it back. But let's say they should've at least been able to score 3 goals in those games. Depending on which games they came in, it may or may not have made a difference. So let's stop dealing in meaningless hypotheticals.

  24. mojo19 says:

    I forgot that the original question was where would we be without Kessel, so you're saying no Kessel and no Reimer…. ya that would suck.

  25. mojo19 says:

    I don't think Kadri is whiney at all, but he is definitely way too co c k y. He hasn't proven anything yet to warrant his demeaner. I think this was best exemplified after he scored his first NHL goal, after having to wait a long time to get it, and he threw a puck towards the net that hit like 3 pairs of legs and pinballed into the net, very lucky. When he was asked about it, he should have responded with something like "ya I just threw it on goal and sometimes you need to get a bit lucky, but I'll take it…" or something to that effect. Instead he said "Ya I earned that goal, I had a feeling I'd score tonight and I just put it inside the post….blah blah blah, bullshit". Kid's a flake, but I love his hands.

  26. TheLeafNation91 says:

    I always believed in hard work and you getting promoted for that bullcrap nonsense.

    I think Mueller deserves it…However, I think Kadri will get called up. I don;t think its a great message to your prospects, but whatever, he has more high end skill so he gets the promotion.

    I hate that…Frattin has less high end skill, however, I love the fact he comes out every night and his lack of production does not phase him in his play. Like Boewen suggested, if he scores 1, he might score 15.

  27. mojo19 says:

    I will agree with LeafsNation on this one, Kadri is a huge flake. I made another comment about this up there ^ somewhere. Having said that, when he was called up earlier this season he played way more tenacious then he did anytime last year. We started to see glimpses of the aggressive, hard hitting Kadri that was so dominant in Junior. I'm not sure he'll ever become a star in the NHL but I do think he'll be a regular NHL'er, maybe a 1st/2nd line, effective winger. He still needs to put a bit more weight on, and figure out his positional play, as evidenced in the loss to Philly in October.

    LeafsNation, don't say that "the Leafs suck" ever again. You call yourself a fan, act like one. You can be concerned about certain aspects of the team, but don't act like a baby, you're being a real hab right now.
    Sincerely, Leafs Police.

  28. mojo19 says:

    Don't worry guys, Price got a shutout last night, Lafleur and the rest of his butt buddies are just 2 or 3 Habs wins away from coming back. Notice how we (Leafs fans) stick by our team through thick and thin, but the habs fans only come around when they're doing well…. just sayin.

  29. TheLeafNation91 says:


    The team does suck, we just put a product to make the police and community think its good when in reality, does not compare to most and its usually full of lies. But at the end of teh day, you need us.


    The Leafs government

  30. mojo19 says:

    I agree with that list, but I would put Grabovski in the consider list, Schenn in the keeper list, Frattin in the consider list, Lupul in the consider list, MacArthur in the consider list.

    Also, I've been through the "sell it all" phase before too. The truth is, we're too far away from that right now, and Burke has not been building that way, so he's closer to looking for a quick fix.

    Granted, I've always believed the best way to build is through the draft. Depending on where we are towards the deadline, I think the Leafs should consider being sellers and maybe sinking late in the year. But we're not there yet, so don't get a hard on for Grigorenko or Yakupov, because you're setting yourself up for some dissapointment. #Truth

  31. mojo19 says:

    Does not compare to most what? Other NHL teams? We're better off then Montreal right now, way better off. Ducks fans (humour me and pretend there are some) should be way more worried about how their team is performing right now. Ottawa has Karlsson, and Spezza, couple other decent young guys, and Michalek playing well but there's not much there either. New Jersey is full of holes and their goalies are both set to retire, the Jets and Hurricanes are a mess…. etc.

    Now let's consider some positives – Burke has made great trades to bring in what I consider to be potentially key pieces with Lupul, Phaneuf, Gardiner, Colborne, he inherited Kulemin, Schenn, and Gunnarsson (and Reimer) who could all be part of a winner at some point. So I don't know how you can say all hope is lost. Is the team ready to compete for a cup right now? No, but there are some pieces in place which is more than can be said about any other Leafs team of the past 6 years.

    If we could slip down to the bottom of the standings and grab one of the potential phenom's that would be sick, but more likely we'll be somewhere in the middle of the pack, so what I'm hoping/waiting for is the next big Burke trade. He's really done a great job of picking up good players and if he can stay the course we could be contenders within a couple years. You can either agree, or agree to disagree.

    And don't rip off my jokes anymore. j/k 😉

  32. mojo19 says:

    Ya I watched that one on ESPN Classic, epic battle. Heavyweight bouts today don't look anything like that. They're just those two Russian brothers, fighting very defensively, not many punches thrown on either side, and just counting points. That's why the main events are all the smaller guys in today's boxing.

    I would love to see a Mike Tyson type come along with an aggressive style, knock out one of those Russians and rejuvenate the heavyweight division.

  33. mojo19 says:

    Ya Frattin has been buzzing around that net, just can't find the back. He and Kulemin's missed oppurtunities so far this season would make for a depressing highlight reel. (lowlight reel?)

    But I think Kadri has been working really hard down there. I don't think Kadri's problem is a lack of effort. He came up earlier this season quicker and more tenacious then we've ever seen him play at an NHL level. Kadri's problem is in his positional play, and awareness on the ice. I mean, he's just started playing wing for the first time this year, but you still have to know to that the winger's job is to cover for the d-man who pinches…. oops Jagr breakaway #3…. So its really just fundamental problems with his game, once that comes around (if it does) I think his skillset speaks for itself.

  34. leafmeister says:

    If the Leafs hit a rough patch, I may be down for 1 year tear down project like Philly in 07. The Leafs have some movable assets that could really bring in some talent and depth for the future.

    Maybe something like this:

    To Edmonton: Franson, Blacker
    To Toronto: MSP

    Edmonton acquires a solid young d-man who can step in right away, and an up and coming puck mover. Toronto adds potentially elite forward depth. Addresses team needs perfectly.

    To PHX: MacArthur
    To TOR: Mikkel Boedker

    Phoenix adds some scoring depth, and Toronto adds another young speedster.

    To WSH: Grabovski, Kadri
    To TOR: COL 1st 2012, whatever salary we need to take back.

    Washington adds a hard working, talented, gritty, Russian speaking center to play with Ovechkin. They also add a prospect who should be ready next year. The Leafs add a top 10 pick; we are gonna call it 9th overall.

    This is of course assuming that the Leafs really take a turn for the worse, and end up in the top 10 pick area. For this purpose, we will say 7th overall. (The season turns out REALLY bad)

    Then at the draft:

    7th overall: Alex Galchenyuk
    9th overall: Brendan Gaunce

    Resign: Joffery Lupul, 5 years, 4.2 per.
    Liles – 2 years, 3.5 per

    Place Tim Connolly on LITR

    Next year:

    Lupul – Colborne – Kessel
    MSP – Galchenyuk – Kulemin
    Frattin/Boedker – Lombardi  Armstrong
    Brown – Steckel – Orr

    Phaneuf – Gunnarsson
    Schenn – Gardiner
    Komisarek – Liles


    It is tough to think about another year of sucking, but that roster, when developed could be a dynasty. If Galchenyuk turns out to be something special, and Kessel continues to prove that he is a changed, more complete player, then there could be two offensive stars on different lines, ala Pittsburgh. The offensive depth is outstanding, and the offensive core of that roster is all drafted between 2006 – 2012, so they would have many good years playing together.

    IMO, that is the surest way to win a cup, although certainly not the only way.

  35. mojo19 says:

    Didn't Colorado's 1st in 2012 go to Washington in the Varlamov deal?

  36. dumbassdoorman says:

    It did go to Wash. but his trade is with Wash. he is just taking the better 1st back in the trade. though I think those two should fetch slightly more.

  37. dumbassdoorman says:

    Ana. would want to sign him before giving up Bobby Ryan, which means, the Preds would be getting more than just him back. I could see Ryan, Schultz and and 1st for Weber, maybe even more?

  38. dumbassdoorman says:

    I would do MSP for Franson

  39. TheLeafNation91 says:

    No way. It would most likely cost Bobby Ryan and Schultz for Weber

    It will be contingent on Weber signing.

    Let's not forget Ryan is a very very very good player.

  40. TheLeafNation91 says:

    I would to…MSP has not looked good at all in the NHL but he atleast was a high pick.

    I would trade Blacker and Franson for MSP.

  41. dumbassdoorman says:

    Yes Ryan is a very good player, but Weber is the best dman in the league, PERIOD!

  42. hockey_lover says:

    No such thing as dynasties anymore man. Detroit was the last one to pull it off and it started well before the cap. With the cap in place, dynasties are a thing of the past.

  43. leafmeister says:

    Fair enough. I guess a modern take on a dynasty is what I meant. Like Pittsburgh and Chicago; not going to win every year, but have enough core pieces locked up to contend for their division and make a run every 3 or so years.

  44. hockey_lover says:

    That Id agree with for sure. There are a few teams that fall into that.

  45. reinjosh says:

    Keep taking shit out your assing and not backing it up. You haven't provided one, not ONE, piece of evidence suggesting Kadri deserves it any less. Weak my friend. Weak. 

  46. Boston_Bruins says:

    You mean until Boston starts one now? 😉

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