Five key players in potential Leafs turnaround

The chemistry has been lacking between Leafs forwards Nazem Kadri (pictured) and Phil Kessel. (DAVE...

The chemistry has been lacking between Leafs forwards Nazem Kadri (pictured) and Phil Kessel. (DAVE ABEL/QMI Agency/Files)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:28 PM ET

TORONTO - Five Key Players To Watch In A Potential Maple Leafs Turnaround:

1. F Phil Kessel

Yes, we know there is speculation that Phil The Thrill is nursing an ailing wrist. But if he is healthy enough to be penned into the lineup every night, he needs to score. And right now, that is not happening. Sure, Kessel is a streaky offensive producer whose game can go from fizzling to sizzling on any given night. Fair enough. Still, with just two goals in his past 11 games, Kessel's production must improve if the Leafs hope to avoid falling out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

2. F Nazem Kadri

The upside of this kid remains limitless, as he has shown at times in his young career. Having said that, the reviews have been lukewarm concerning his audition on the first line between Kessel and James van Riemsdyk. However much -- or little -- he is responsible for Kessel's recent slump, the chemistry has been lacking between the two of late. Admittedly, he scored a huge goal against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Monday to tie the game 1-1 with just 1:24 remaining in the third period, forcing overtime. Leafs management just wants to see more "Kadri moments" like that one simply because they know he's capable of it.


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