Kessel's return brings spark to Maple Leafs, more notes
The Toronto Maple Leafs scored five power play goals last week in Anaheim and part of the credit, according to coach
No, not Wilson himself.
The coach credits
With his surgically repaired left shoulder, Kesselv made his eagerly-awaited debut with the Maple Leafs on Tuesday against stumbling Tampa Bay -- Godot with a wrist shot. Toronto general manager
Kessel can fill a void of, in baseball parlance, the home run hitter. He can be a one-man rally, taking the puck and creating something dangerous. "That's what we're hoping we're going to get out of Kessel: an unbelievable amount of talent, speed, the ability to beat people one on one," Wilson said. "You can mark those kinds of players all night long, but then they see a little opening and they take advantage of it. They can bury the puck. They can have a tremendous impact on a game."
Kessel did everything but bury the puck in his season debut, taking a career-high 10 shots on net in 23:50
Of course, the Leafs best passer right now is on the blue line:
The Leafs had been working overtime to stay afloat while awaiting Kessel's debut. In one of those freaky only-in-the-NHL stats, Toronto has accumulated twice the number of points in losses than it has in victories. The three-point games are an absurd construct, skewing the hockey landscape and producing a standings table that is practically indecipherable -- W, L, OTL, SL, Pts ... please -- but the NHL won't be going to wins-losses-games behind any time soon. The three-point games artificially create races, keeping teams closer to a playoff spot than they merit. Although the Maple Leafs entered the week last in the Eastern Conference, they were just seven points out of the last playoff spot. Their four "loser points" make their plight modestly more palatable to their fans.
Red Wings general manager
Holland said he hadn't heard the comment, which is surprising because the GM hears everything.
"If you judged (St. Louis' Ty) Conklin or (Colorado's Craig) Anderson at 25 (Howard's age), I'm not sure you'd have seen what you're getting now from them," Holland said of the two Western Conference goalies.
Conklin, now 5-0, won 25 games last season as
That's part of the problem. The other problem is Osgood, who was one or two Game 7 saves shy of winning the Conn Smythe Trophy in the last Stanley Cup playoffs. He has numbers that eerily mirror the lost (regular) season of 2008-09. Then: 3.09 goals-against average and .887 save percentage. Now: 3.10 and .890. Before rallying with 20 saves in a 3-1 win over sluggish Calgary last Saturday, Osgood had been yanked after allowing two goals on four shots against Vancouver.
"Actually Ozzie's been much better," Holland says. "His attitude, his work habits, his conditioning. He's challenging shooters more. Really he's in a different place than he was at the same time a year ago."
Bottom line: Holland, who spends on skaters and not goalies, has no plans (or cap space) to tweak his goaltending.
On the subject of goaltending, consider the Atlanta Thrashers, who have been getting outstanding work from 22-year-old