The Bruins have done a great job making Phil Kessel’s life miserable since the Bruins sent him to Toronto in September of 2009, we know that, Toronto knows that, and Kessel himself certainly knows that. When the Bruins failed to beat the Senators on the National Hockey League’s final day of the regular season, the Bruins fell to the fourth seed and set up a first round date with Kessel and the Leafs.
With just three goals against the Bruins in 22 games entering the playoffs, Kessel—the Maple Leafs regular season leading scorer—knew he had to shake the issues against the Bruins and get the monkey off his back.
With two goals in three games so far this series, Kessel has done that, unfortunately for Kessel and the Maple Leafs he hasn’t done enough as the Maple Leafs trail the Bruins in the series 2-1 with a huge Game 4 set for tonight in Toronto.
Kessel is a very talented player, there is no questioning that. The Madison, Wisconsin native has been a prime time player in the playoffs throughout his career; the Bruins know that from firsthand experience. With his two points this series Kessel now has 17 points in 18 games, a pretty good playoff resume if you ask me.
With the Bruins looking to put the Leafs in a huge series hole, containing Kessel like they did in Game 1, and have done throughout his tenure in Toronto, could be the key to a Game 4 victory.
Allowing Kessel to light the lamp for the third straight contest will only boost his confidence and that is something the Bruins without a doubt would like to avoid.
Throughout Game 3, the Maple Leafs fans were mocking the Bruins fans with chants of “Thank You Kessel” a chant made famous by Bruins fans in regards to the Kessel trade that eventually landed the Bruins Tyler Seguin, Dougie Hamilton and top prospect Jared Knight.
“That was pretty cool, a lot of what he’s done since he’s been here gets overlooked” said Kessel’s linemate James van Riemsdyk. “He’s been at the top of the league in points. That’s what he was brought here to do. It was a good move on the fans’ part.”
But at the end of the day it was Bruins’ fans who once again should have been chanting “Thank You Kessel” as Kessel’s turnover led to the Daniel Paille shorthanded goal which put the Leafs in a 4-1 hole.
Then again to Kessel’s credit, he did make up for it shortly after with a power play goal to begin the third period..
It’s expected the Leafs will come out buzzing tonight as they surely want to even the series at two games apiece, and avoid possible elimination Friday night in Boston. Shutting Phil Kessel down could be the recipe to the Bruins heading home with their second straight win north of the border and a three to one series lead in this might entertaining best-of-seven series.