April 3, 2011
Tight-lipped Kessel does his scoring on the ice
By LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - He’s no poster boy for post-game mirth with the media, but Phil Kessel is doing his talking on the ice.
A lightning rod for fan criticism of Brian Burke’s game plan much of the past two years, Kessel reached 30 goals for the third straight and second straight in Toronto. His most recent 30th on Saturday in Ottawa, starting the Leafs to another season-saving win, put him in a group of just six NHLers to string three 30s together since ’08-09. Kessel had 36 with Boston that season, convincing GM Burke he was worth a package of three high draft picks.
Kessel’s output can fluctuate wildly, going days wearing a cloak of invisibility, then quietly emerging with a seven-game points streak such as the one he takes into Tuesday’s game against the Washington Capitals.
“I knew when we got Phil that he was going to score for us,” Burke said. “I’m more impressed now with his overall game. He’s playing on all 200 feet of the ice, he’s battling for pucks, forechecking and he’s getting pucks out. Thirty is a significant milestone and I’m happy for him.”
Where other Leafs are getting a charge out of the attention their streak has warranted, Kessel remains reserved as this unlikely chapter heads into the final week of the season. But he’s not paid to entertain off the ice.
“Hopefully we can keep it rolling here,” Kessel said. “You always want more (than 30) and this year, I’ve had a lot of chances to score.”
He had four shots on goal Saturday, keeping him fourth in the league with 313 ,behind Alex Ovechkin, Dustin Byfuglien and Jeff Carter.