I was hoping to have already turned the page on Phil Kessel, but one comment by Toronto general manager Brian Burke in today’s Toronto Sun inspired me to write just a little more on the speedy winger who forced his way to Leafs Land whether he really asked out of Boston or not.
“He scored 36 goals with a trapping team,” Burke said of his new winger in the Sun. “I’m interested to see how well he does with a team that doesn’t play the trap.”
Again Toronto is accusing the Bruins of trapping. Back when Paul Maurice was their bench boss and Burke was still in Anaheim that was Toronto’s excuse for not being able to score against Boston. Now the trap talk continues.
I’m not saying that what the Bruins do defensively isn’t a trap. What I’m saying is that every team that wants to be successful has to limit their goals against and in today’s NHL some form of the trap is going to be part of that process. By the way, the “trapping” Bruins were No. 2 in goals scored last season.
So while Burke might be interested to see how Kessel does in a non-trapping system, I’m more curious to see how Kessel does without a Marc Savard to dish him the puck. I’m pretty sure Ron Wilson is going to want Kessel to play some semblance of defense. How will Kessel respond to that? And when coach and player disagree, what’s Kessel going to think of Wilson’s sometimes gruff demeanor? The first time Kessel goes a week without a goal, how’s he going to handle the Toronto media? Is he going to refuse to talk after losses like he often did during his three years in Boston?
When he’s healthy, the Kessel-Toronto mix will be interesting, no matter your reason for keeping an eye on it.
Elsewhere in the division:
Montreal and goaltender Carey Price still have lots of room for improvement.
•The buzz word at Buffalo’s camp is accountability.
•The Leafs made their first cuts and first-round pick Nazem Kadri has stuck around.
•A lower-body injury is going to keep Ottawa’s Jesse Winchester out around three weeks.