Kessel 'couldn't care less' about Seguin

Toronto Maple Leafs Phil Kessel during practice at the MasterCard Centre in Toronto, Ont., Friday...

Toronto Maple Leafs Phil Kessel during practice at the MasterCard Centre in Toronto, Ont., Friday December 3, 2010. (ERNEST DOROSZUK / QMI AGENCY)

DAVE HILSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:25 PM ET

TORONTO -- Everybody in Leafs Nation might be focused on the Tyler Seguin saga, but Phil Kessel says he “couldn’t care less.”

Seguin (five goals, four assists) and the Boston Bruins (14-8-2) will be making their first trip of the season to the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night, and fans here will get an opportunity to see firsthand what might have been.

Seguin was selected second overall in the 2010 draft by the Bruins — and there was a lot of speculation he could go No. 1 — using a first-round pick acquired from the Leafs in the deal that brought Kessel to Toronto.

That on its own might not have been so terrible but general manager Brian Burke also gave up the Leafs first-round pick in the next draft, and, if the season continues to go the way it has, that is shaping up to be another top five selection.

“It doesn’t bother me. I couldn’t care less, to tell you the truth,” Kessel said when asked after the Leafs morning skate if he thought about the inevitable comparisons between himself and Seguin.

“We’re just going to go out there and play the game. To tell you the truth I never think about it one bit.”

Kessel (10 goals, four assists) and the Leafs are going to have their work cut out against the Bruins, the league’s stingiest team, which has allowed only 47 goals.

Toronto (8-12-4), meanwhile, has been shut out in two of its past three games, and Kessel, who the Leafs were counting on to be an elite scorer, has notched only three goals and two assists in the 15 games heading into tonight’s contest. And he has yet to score in the seven previous meetings against the Bruins since being traded.

To get Kessel going — and hopefully the rest of the team — the Leafs are moving him into the middle to centre Kris Versteeg and Colby Armstrong, back for the first time since being injured on Oct. 26.

“I grew up a centreman and played one year pro centre, and I moved to the wing in Boston after that,” Kessel said of the switch from the wing. “I’m not going to change (my game), I guess I’ll distribute the puck a little more — I’m fine playing centre, I’ve played it my whole life.”

J-S Giguere will get his first start in net for the Leafs since injuring his groin in a game against Nashville on Nov. 16. He came in for Jonas Gustavsson on Thursday night after the big Swede was pulled in a 5-0 loss to the Oilers.

Marlies call-up Jay Rosehill will be in the lineup for the first time this season. He played 15 games with the Leafs last year, amassing 67 minutes in penalties to go along with one goal and one assist.

Quick Hits:

Leafs sniper Phil Kessel on his scoring slump: “It’s frustrating. I was brought here to score goals and be an offensive player. Right now, we’re not scoring enough, and I’m not doing enough, so I have to pick it up.”

Leafs coach Ron Wilson on injured captain Dion Phaneuf, who skated on his own Saturday morning: “He’s a week to 10 days away (from returning). He’s not comfortable to skate with us yet, there’s still some things he feels.”

Leafs goalie J-S Giguere on how he felt going in on Thursday night for the pulled Jonas Gustavsson after not having played since Nov. 16: “I felt great. I didn’t notice anything and it was actually good confidence-wise to go in there and knowing that my leg is good.”

dave.hilson@sunmedia.ca


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