Kessel sputtered along with Leafs playoff hopes

Maple Leafs sniper Phil Kessel talks to the media during the Leafs' locker clean out Monday....

Maple Leafs sniper Phil Kessel talks to the media during the Leafs' locker clean out Monday. (ERNEST DODROSZUK/QMI Agency)

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:02 AM ET

Just as making the playoffs seemed a stone-cold lock for the Maple Leafs as recently as a month ago, so did the prospect of the team’s leading scorer Phil Kessel reaching 40 goals for the first time in his career.

The fact that the second didn’t happen was directly related to the first.

Kessel was one of several Leafs to struggle down the stretch of the disappointing 2013-14 campaign, finishing with 37 goals to match a career high. But with just six goals in the 22 games since the Olympic break (and just two in the team’s final 11 contests) Kessel was mired in one of the more frustrating funks of his career.

“Obviously I was disappointed,” Kessel said during the Leafs locker clean out session Monday morning at the Air Canada Centre. “I had a bunch of chances and I was doing the same things (as earlier in the season) but it just wasn’t clicking.


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