Phil Kessel did everything he could to try and pass off his four-point performance as no big deal.
Toronto’s star forward knew he had to talk to the media, a part of the job he despises. But it wasn’t until his line mate and roommate chirped at him that Kessel cracked a smile over his big game.
“Wow, four points and he talks!” Tyler Bozak shouted which was greeted with immediate laughter.
Kessel’s main focus has been helping the Leafs win, something which Toronto has managed to do quite successfully over the past 11 games. With just two losses in that span, Toronto has regained the confidence that hasn’t been present since they were flying high in the month of October.
With a four-point performance, Kessel is second in the NHL with 30 goals and fourth in points with 61, surpassing Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks. But Kessel isn’t planning any large celebration over his individual performance.
“I don’t know, go home and hang out,” Kessel said when asked how he would celebrate his big performance.
On the ice, it was a little clearer to Bozak that Kessel was enjoying the moment as hats rained down onto the Air Canada Centre ice.
“I looked over at him and he was trying to keep his smile in but he was pretty excited” Bozak said. “He was trying to act all serious so I gave him a little grief for that.”
Kessel’s three goals against the Ottawa Senators gives him 30 for the season. It’s the fifth time in his career he’s managed to hit that mark. And while there were always questions whether the Olympic bound Kessel could hit 40, it’s looking inevitable at this point.
“It’s really hard to put a limit on him he can get so streaky,” said Bozak. “Three goals tonight, who knows next game. I definitely wouldn’t doubt him getting 40 goals by any means.”
Kessel’s hot play has been a major reason for the team’s recent run of success. So long as he stays healthy, which he has been able to do since being a member of the Leafs, the sky is the limit.
There is a lot of debate over Nazem Kadri’s hit on Cody Ceci. In full speed, it looked like one of those hits that would draw the ire of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. While in full speed that appears to be the case, when you slow it down to the principle point of contact, it looks like Kadri gets him on the side.